The Dominican Republic is a small, Spanish-speaking nation in the Caribbean situated on the eastern part of the island of Hispaniola, with Haiti in the west. Dominicans are a typically Caribbean Creole mix of native Taino, European, African and even Middle Eastern peoples. This fascinating diversity is reflected in an surprisingly distinctive cuisine.
Plantains and a variety of tropical root vegetables provide the base for most Dominican meals. Chicken, beef and pork are all popular meats, finding their way into full-flavored soups and stews. Pernil, or pork marinated in garlic and roasted until meltingly tender, is a particular favorite. Fish and seafood is more prevalent along the coast. Popular fruits include mangos, pineapple and oranges.
While the food of la republica dominicana is similar to that of its nearby Latin island neighbors, Puerto Rico and Cuba, Dominican cooking has many unique aspects and dishes that set it apart. Unlike other Caribbean cuisines, Dominican food is generally not spicy. A mix of bell peppers, onions, tomatoes and herbs called sofrito is sauteed and used as a flavoring base for many dishes. For breakfast, a big plate of mashed plantains (mangú), sausage and cheese, called los tres golpes, provides a hearty start to the day. Lunch is the main meal for most Dominicans, and la bandera — a simple yet nourishing meal of stewed chicken rice and beans — is the standard lunch.