For this project, I utilized many resources. I had much to learn about Western African cooking and about the journeys that some of these ingredients took over history. Below, I’ve made a list of some resources used with a summary for each. I didn’t include every single one (but they are referenced in the post, via hyperlink or footnote); the ones I’ve chosen for this post are the ones that were the most helpful, resources I returned to multiple times while writing these entries. If you haven’t read my project, you can access entry #1 here, #2 here, #3 here, #4 here, #5 here, #6 here and #7 here!
Dominican Cooking– a food blog started in 2001 by a Dominican woman, Clara, and her friend Ilana. These women have an extensive list of recipes, both Dominican and other, as well as entries about Dominican culture and even a post on how to cook traditional dishes if you have diabetes (common in the DR). I also appreciated their comprehensive posts on viveres, and typical herbs and spices used in Dominican cooking. This is a great blog with well-written posts and vibrant pictures.
“Tribulations of Dominican Racial Identity” by Silvio Torres-Saillant – This essay by Torres-Saillant, an English Professor at Syracuse University, comes from The Dominican Republic Reader, another great resource for all research Dominican. This article specifically looks at the country’s history and the population’s relationship with their African heritage. Torres-Saillant provides strong arguments supporting the idea that the Dominican racial identity must include African roots, despite what most wish to admit. The essay is extremely well-written, and does a great job of going over the racial history and evolution of the Dominican Republic.
“History of the Dominican Republic” edited by Lynne Guitar – Lynne Guitar is one of the foremost scholars on the Dominican Republic history and culture. Her piece on Hispaniola.com is a fantastic, extremely comprehensive history of the island. Reading this text gave me a much better idea of the conditions that permitted the African slaves to be brought over in the 16th and 17th centuries. It also helps show the influence that they had as time went on. Additionally, if you’re interested in more recent DR history, Guitar has a pretty full explanation of the political unrest that has existed in the country since Trujillo’s assassination in 1961.
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. “Black in Latin America: Episode 1, Haiti and the Dominican Republic” – “Black in Latin America” is a PBS series, hosted by Gates, who travels to many Hispanic countries and explores what it means to be black there, both currently as well as in the past. The first episode focuses on the tenuous relationship between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Watching this video before heading on my study abroad experience really helped me be more aware of how the racial tensions. It helped me notice elements like the artwork from the Trujillo era, an example of which I posted in my first entry; the subjects are supposed to be Dominican but look extremely European compared to what the population actually looks like. I highly recommend this video for anyone interested in the DR or Haiti.
“What about your saucepans?” by Lindsay De Feliz – De Feliz is a British ex-pat living with her Dominican husband in the DR and her blog is a great resource for anyone wondering what day-to-day life in the DR is like. Her blog was even turned into a book, with the same name, in 2013. While I have read most of her posts, the one that helped me the most with this research was “Diabetes in the Dominican Republic”. She interviews a Dominican couple she knows, both suffering from complications of Diabetes Type 2. De Feliz starts with a broad overview of the impact of the disease and then focuses on the story of her two neighbors, bringing to light many of the issues that Dominicans with Diabetes face, especially if they are in the working-class economically. If anyone is interested in nutrition studies, or the impact of diabetes in the DR specifically, this is a great resource.
“The Dominican Kitchen, Annex” by José E. Marcano – First of all, this site is in Spanish (which was not a problem for me, but could be difficult to access if you don’t know Spanish). Marcano provides an extensive list of the key ingredients in Dominican cooking, divided into categories such as viveres, grains, and spices. When possible, Marcano provides a history of the food, including whether it was brought over from Africa. This site proved to be a very good starting point for my research.
The Congo Cookbook: Western Africa – This website has a detailed list of many traditional African recipes, sorted by region, which was very helpful for my research. They have been collected and curated by a Peace Corps member who lived in Gabon and traveled extensively across Africa. Each recipe page includes a description of the dish, as well as a brief history. I found it very helpful when tracing and comparing Dominican recipes to West African ones.
This concludes my project! I hope I’ve been able to give you some insight on the culinary traditions and culture of the Dominican Republic. I also hope I’ve been able to give you a better idea some of the racial tensions alive in the country, which trace back to the 15th century. If you have any further questions or comments, feel free to leave them below. And if you’re new to Dominican food, go try some tostones or sancocho – you won’t be disappointed!
Until my next travel adventure,
-The Americana Atipica