La Bandera of the Dominican Republic

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How do you spend your lunchtime?

If you’re like me, your lunch hour is different every day. I work out of my car, driving to several patients’ homes a day. You can find me nibbling at a homemade lunch in my car with the A/C blasting the desert heat away, parked strategically under one of the few shady trees you’ll find in any given area. Sometimes I work through the typical lunch hour to be able to enjoy a quiet & cool meal in my apartment. The underlying theme of all of these experiences is this: lunch is always a loose structure that I do not really honor or know how to enjoy. I hate this. And I think my work suffers for it.

I do not think I am alone in this lack of ritual. In fact, I think it’s not only common, but it is sometimes valued, like a secret badge of honor, when breaks are missed or shortened. Furthermore, it’s hard to feel motivated to create an enjoyable dinner experience every night. Maybe we do make the nice dinner, but begrudgingly and mindlessly, another chore to be done.

All of this surfaced for me while making La Bandera. In the Dominican Republic, lunch is the big meal of the day, and this is often made and eaten everyday. This particular recipe is three separate stews (I’ve seen recipes that include just two), rice, and some other side ingredients and toppings. As I worked several hours in the kitchen to prepare this meal, I kept thinking to myself, in much disbelief, mostly, “Can I eat this for lunch everyday, too?”

Maybe what I am saying about the afternoon meal doesn’t apply to you at all, but these ideas – my personal lunch problems, alongside our cultural ‘norms’ of work and careers – happen to be things on my mind lately, long before I made this dish.

The dish itself, grand and delicious, is an incredible feast. The three stews are highlighted by their primary ingredient – beef, chicken, and vegetarian. On the side, you’ll find fresh, sliced vegetables, rice, plantains, & avocados. Don’t forget fresh lime and cilantro to top it off. You should really check out the link for this recipe to get a better idea of what I am talking about. I’ll even include the ingredients – note for note – to show you the scale of this recipe.

Of course you don’t have to make all three stews. Try the one that interests you. I made all three for one evening, and invited friends to enjoy it with us.

The Dominican Republic has a lot of pride for their food and the daily rituals of it. Food becomes a literal extension of pride in this dish: La Bandera translates as “the flag,” with different ingredients representing different colors of the flag. Red is represented by the beans, white by rice, and blue… well, meat is not technically blue, but just roll with it. It reminds me of the Fourth of July celebrations, when we make cakes with blueberry stars, strawberry stripes, and a white frosting backdrop.

Speaking of flags, I have been recently studying the flags of the world. One by one, I hope to be able to name them all and relay their symbolism. To help with this, I’ll be adding a new portion to each post: Ensigns Explained. I hope you find it as fascinating as I do: how each country chooses to represent itself can be quite revealing.

Ingredient List

Arroz Blanco
  • 5 tablespoons of vegetable oil (soy, peanut or corn)
  • teaspoon of salt
  • 6 cups water
  • 4 cups of rice
Habichuelas Guisadas
  • 2 cups of dry pinto , cranberry, or red kidney beans
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 pinch of oregano
  • 1 bell pepper , chopped
  • 1 small red onion cut into four quarters
  • 2 cloves of garlic , crushed
  • 1 cup of diced auyama (West Indies pumpkin)
  • 1 cup of tomato sauce
  • Leaves from a celery stalk , chopped (optional)
  • 4 sprigs of thyme (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon of chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (or more, to taste)
Pollo Guisado
  • 2 lbs [0.9 kg] of chicken cut into small pieces
  • 2 limes cut into halves
  • A pinch of oregano
  • 1 small red onion chopped into fine strips or eighths
  • ½ cup of chopped celery (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (more may be necessary)
  • ½ teaspoon of mashed garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of oil (corn, canola or peanut)
  • 1 teaspoon of regular white sugar
  • 2 cups of water
  • 4 plum tomatoes cut into quarters
  • 2 green bell or cubanela (cubanelle) peppers
  • ¼ cup of seedless olives cut into halves (optional)
  • 1 cup of tomato sauce
  • A small bunch of fresh coriander leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon of pepper
Res Guisada
  • 2 lb [0.91 kg] of beef (round or skirt) cut into small pieces
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • A pinch of sun-dried oregano
  • A pinch of pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (or more, to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil (corn, canola or peanut)
  • 3 cups of water (may need more)
  • 1 red onion cut into slices
  • 2 tomatoes cut into quarters
  • 2 bell peppers , cut into small pieces
  • 3 cloves of garlic , mashed
  • 1 cup of tomato sauce
  • 1 sprig of cilantro , chopped
Ensalada Verde
  • 2 tomatoes , diced or sliced
  • ½ lettuce (or ¼ cabbage chopped finely)
  • 1 cucumber , sliced or diced
  • 1 bell pepper cut into thin strips
  • 1 small onion , cut into thin slices (optional)
  • 1 beetroot, boiled and sliced (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons of fruit vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (or more, to taste)

Quick Quotes

Teresa: “A feast! So many components, and all were delicious. I think my favorite part was the whole cloves of garlic.”

Spencer: “Great job by Teresa, averaging one stew every two people.”

Miguel: “I loved the meat and the nice people I got to meet.”

Juan: “Arroz, Cilantro y Limón me endulzan el Corazón.”

Hoshin: “Food to quiet the mind!”

Anna: “Incredible food, like traveling with my taste buds.”

Trivial Trifles

  • The capital of the Dominican Republic is Santo Domingo
  • The official language is Spanish
  • The Dominican Republic is part of the island Hispaniola, shared with Haiti, and is part of the Caribbean group of islands, the Greater Antilles
  • Christopher Columbus landed on Hispaniola back in December of 1492, marking the beginning of Spanish colonialism
  • For most of its history, and until its independence, the Dominican Republic was known as Santo Domingo
  • The Dominican Republic is known for their genre of music called Merengue 
  • Fashion designer Oscar de la Renta was born in the Dominican Republic in 1932

Ensigns Explained

 

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  • The flag was designed by one of the founding fathers of the country – Juan Pablo Duarte – and was adopted in 1863
  • Blue – liberty; Red – the blood of heroes; White – Salvation
  • It features of the coat of arms of the Dominican Republic, including a bay laurel branch, a palm frond, the national motto: Dios, Patria, Libertad (God, Homeland, Liberty), and a Bible opened to John 8:32, which reads “conocerán la verdad, y la verdad los hará libres”, literal translation: “know the truth and the truth will set you free”

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6 thoughts on “La Bandera of the Dominican Republic

  1. Your Grandpa Skip would totally agree with lunch, (although he calls it “dinner”), being the main meal of the day. I remember it always being that way growing up; it is definitely a farm life tradition. Your dad prefers the noon meal also and we are able to do that with me being at home and him so close to his work. Unfortunately, most people don’t have that option, and lunch is packed, on the run, and quickly devoured. I found the new feature “Ensigns Explained”, very interesting! One more thing- the ingredient list for these three stews is a bit overwhelming! Sure sounds tasty, but I may need to attempt one at a time.

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    1. I forgot that Grandpa says that! Yes, the meal was overwhelming to me. It quite literally took over my kitchen! I recommend starting with the beef. I think that was my favorite.

      Like

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