Bollitos de Yuca (Cheese-Filled Cassava Balls) are one of those no-frills dishes that we love with a passion that we prepare with all-local ingredients and can be found anywhere in our country, even the most remote campo. Locavores would be pleased.
Locavores? What’s that? Locavores are those who are part of a global movement that proposes the consumption of locally-grown food. It’s a movement fueled by concerns about the environment and the nutritional quality of food that has travelled from afar, and subjected to diverse methods of preservation.
As with anything, there are several sides to this argument.
As with any non-centralized movement, there is no “official” definition of what makes a person a locavore, or what “local” means. A common definition is that local food is produced within 100 miles of the consumer. How feasible following this rules is depends on where the consumer is. It is much easier to eat local when one lives in an area with a mild climate, as opposed to a region with a more unforgiving climate.
So, why eat local?
Reason no. 1 is, as I mentioned above, because eating local reduces the stress on the environment by eliminating or reducing the need for transportation, refrigeration and preservation, which means a much smaller carbon footprint. Another advantage is that fresh food is almost always more nutritious and better-tasting than refrigerated, or preserved food. A third reason why eating local is a good idea, although not the main reason for which many do it, is that local food is generally more inexpensive than “exotic” foods.
So, is there any downside to this?
There is (some claim), like the fact that in some places it’s hard to impossible to access local foods during some part of the year, but for me the advantages of a largely local diet outweigh the disadvantages. I think we should strive to eat as much as possible from local sources. This is possible in the DR, as our traditional diet largely consists of foods grown locally, and we even grow foods that do not normally grow in the tropics. I am also a huge fan of homemade options for industrial foods and ingredients (see our growing collection of recipes for seasonings and condiments), and growing at least some of my own food.
I must admit to consuming foods that travel from afar from time to time, but the vast majority of our food comes from our own country (although not necessarily from within the 100 mile radius).
How about you start choosing as much of your food grown locally as you can? It’s good for you, it’s good for your pocket, it’s good for the environment.
- 1 lb [0.48 kg] of cassava (yuca)
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 1 teaspoon of curly parsley, finely chopped
- ¼ cup of milk
- 1½ teaspoon of salt (or more, to taste)
- ½ lb [0.24 kg] of cheddar, cubed
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup of flour
- Sufficient vegetable (corn or peanut) oil for deep frying (at least 3 cups)
- Peel and boil the cassava until it is tender, adding a tablespoon of salt to the water.
- Take out of the water and puree.
- Add the butter, parsley and milk and mix well.
- Season with salt to taste and let cool down to room temperature.
- Put two tablespoonfuls of the mixture in the palm of your hand. Flatten it, put a cheese cube in the center and roll around it into a ball.
- Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
- Whisk the egg. Dipp the balls into the egg, then into the flour. Coat it with flour and shake off the excess.
- Chill uncovered for 2-4 hours (you can keep them frozen in a lidded container for a couple of days).
- Fry in very hot oil over medium heat until they are golden brown.
- Place on a paper towel to drain excess oil.
- Serve immediately.