Finding Familiarity in the Food by Glorietta Benigno.
I find that when you travel, although you may be excited to try new things and explore, you’re always looking to find something recognizable. It’s a way to cope with new surroundings. It helps you feel more comfortable and at ease. Throughout the trip, I found many things that felt familiar to me, but the one that got me the most excited was the food.
Wonder, Julisa, and Isabelle, the talented chefs in the team, made everyone fresh, hand prepared meals everyday. I found myself looking forward to their food and thinking “what are we going to try?”. They had served everything from simple and plain, sliced avocados to bowls of a belly warming, plantain dumpling soup called sancocho. I grew up eating traditional Filipino food all the time, and it kind of surprised me how similar the food was in Dominican. Then again, both places have similar environments and vegetation as they are both tropical islands.
Two foods that were served a lot were guineo (banana or plantain) and yucca or cassava. The chefs prepared and presented these two foods in a variety of ways. For the guineo, it was usually fried in small slices but in different ways, for example: one day they served it banana Q style, a classic Filipino snack where it’s coated in caramelized sugar, then another day the guineo was served as a fritter, shaped in little nuggets. As for the cassava, I was intrigued for the dishes were rather more savory than sweet like I was expecting. It was a fun surprise because the dishes tasted glorious every single time. The cassava was served in small chunks and were topped with either simple salt or peppers, olives, and onions.
If I were to try and recreate any of the foods I tried during the trip, I’d choose the squash cake. When I tasted it I thought it was maybe pumpkin or something, but I was surprised to find out it was squash. The cake was marvelous! It was shaped like an angel cake and topped with a delicious sauce, raisins, and little purple flowers from the front of the church’s plant box.
It was such a fun time trying and tasting all these foods. You could really tell that each dish was given time and thought. Every meal had this sort of balance of comfort and adventure that I enjoyed. When traveling, food is always a big part that could make or break a trip. You could go out for fast food all you want, but the homemade meals are the ones that you remember. There really is nothing more heartwarming and belly filling than a home prepared meal made with love.