“PECAO FRITO” in the Dominican Republic is a must!

When visiting the Dominican Republic, a piece of paradise in the Caribbean, eating fresh fried fish at the beach is a must, it’s part of our folclor; you will get in contact with our way of enjoying life in a healthy way!!!!!

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From the Tainos we have inherited our love for fish, we have good fishermen, specially for fried fish or “pecao frito” (pescado frito) as pronounced by most Dominicans. Although we are an island, fish is much more expensive than meat. Dominican household does not often cook fish as they do with chicken, the number one meat; depending of the region, fish is prepared in different ways. However there is a way fish is prepared we all love and that is fried fish at the beach!!

Practically on all the coast of the Dominican Republic, along the beach and seaside towns, you will find fresh fish, that is, the catch of the day! There are the typical small places, made of four strong wooden posts and a zinc or palm tree roof, along the beach with a few chairs and a small table! Originally all these chairs were made of “Guano”, but during the past few years, plastic chairs and tables are substituting these chairs.

Close to the beach you will normally find rows of food stands, with a large metal “basin” , locally made, with coal used as fuel, and a large frying pan, where different kind of whole fishes are fried after being rubbed with salt, oregano, coated in flour and then deep fried until crispy!  Most of the time, the frying oil is reused, which many natives believe gives the fish a special tasty touch!

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When you are at all these stands you get the feeling of a Fried Fish Fair, here you are being offered delicious whole fried fish in different sizes/weight, by some guys whose job is to bring customers to the stand they work for! The price of the whole fish is between US$ 8.00 and US$ 10.00, but it will be determined by its size/weight and type! The most popular fishes are the Loro (Parrotfish) and the Chillo (Red Snapper).

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You can buy already fried fish or you can ask for the type of fish you want them to fry for you from the fresh variety they have available! The fish will be always served with lemon slices; to eat with the fish you have a variety of fried food such as plantain(tostones), sweet potato (batata), cassava rolls (bollo de yuca) and Johnny cake (Yaniqueque), introduced by Afro-descendants coming from other Caribbean islands!

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You can also go to a restaurant in town or close to the beach, for a more refined ambience, but you will miss the typical Dominican atmosphere! A beer, normally Presidente, is ordered, as well as, soft drinks for the children and at the rythm of a Bachata or a Merengue, which are the loudly played, you will eat your fried fish! Dominicans will prefer to eat their fish with the fingers; knives and forks (plastic ones) will be ignored, to fully enjoy every bit of their fish!

Dominican Republic has it all, awesome tropical sceneries, beautiful beaches, mountains, rivers, our unique Larimar stone and friendly people who enjoy life in a simple way!!

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FUNERALS IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Native Dominicans are a true mixture of African, European and Indian origin. Due to this, as you may understand, we are heirs of their customs and culture, making of us real special creatures!!

This heritage is present in our daily behaviour, attitude, beliefs, feelings, etc. and this is remarkable, for example, we are very noisy, the average Dominican, speak loudly, we are very outgoing, you ask a question no matter where you are to one person and you’ll have answers from all those who heard the question and feel the need to reply too!! Dominicans are always ready to celebrate whatever occasion with a party or a get together and everybody will happily cooperate with drinks, snacks, ice, music, etc.!

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In the Dominican Republic most people are catholics, followed by Christian evangelists and many other believers of other religions! There is also the Dominican voodoo, introduced by the African slaves, and some influence of the Taino religion! All this mix of races and religions can be observed in different religious celebrations!

For example, in the rural area, when somebody dies, he will be buried in one of his favorite or best clothes, the family will hire women, who will be in charge of crying during the funeral to give the impression that the deceased was a good person! A delicious cup of hot coffee, food and soft drinks will be served to visitors, who will be talking and telling stories, of the person who has passed away, remembering of course only the good side of his life.

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There will be nine days of prayers in the house of the departed soul; a table with a white cloth, with pictures of some saints and flowers, is placed in a room, where family and friends will gather to pray and enjoy some snacks, coffee and beverage. This ritual is meant to help the soul leave the house where he lived forever and on the ninth day, the altar is removed from the room. This ritual is also made in towns and cities.

Normally, in the cities, a funeral house is used, where families and friends will come to give their condolences to the mourners and it will be a come and go of people; a religious service will be held and thereafter the burial.

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But lately, in the suburbs a new way to bury the dead person, has been introduced. If the deceased was a drug dealer, lived a criminal lifestyle or died by any kind of accident, rum and beer will be served or bought, loud music of songs (merengue, bachata, Dominican reggaeton and dembow), loved by the deceased will be played and danced, the cufin will be kept open so that the dead person can be touched by the mourners, family and friends attending the funeral and maybe to have the feeling that he is participating of his farewell party!! Of course there will be crying, shouts, and other sorrow manifestations among the loud music, all of which will accompany the funeral to the cemetery.

 

Pictures by Listin Diario and sobradeflow.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holy Week in the Dominican Republic

From the earliest times, in Christianity, Holy week starts with Palm Sunday, with the celebration of the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. The Holy week is the last week of the 40 days season of Lent and the week preceding Easter, it is the last week of Christ’s life, remembering especially His passion and resurrection. Easter is the celebration of Christ’s resurrection, the victory over sin, death and the devil, as well as, the promise of our justification and everlasting life….

In the New World, Christianity started in the Dominican Republic, introduced by the Spanish conquerors, however with the mixture of Spaniards and African slaves, some changes in costumes and beliefs occurred. Most of our ancestors were Catholics, lead by the Roman Catholic Church.

Still in the sixties in the Dominican Republic, every catholic family would stay true to the religious traditions of that time to be observed during the Holy week!

In that time for our catholic families, going to the beach or to the rivers during the Holy week was unthinkable, inconceivable. Nobody dared going to swim on Holy Friday, for you would turn into a mermaid or something unpredictable!!

On Holy Friday, the children were ordered to stay in their bedrooms, without making any noise; food (no meat permitted) would be served in the room! The special treat would be the traditional sweet red beans! No cleaning or household job was allowed, no music could be heard but the religious or classic music! All the stores, restaurants, supermarkets, etc. were closed, everybody stayed home, watching a movie of the bible, it was like a national curfew!!

But this tradition started to change with the new generations, growing population, foreign influences and the Dominicans slowly started going to the beach, to the rivers, spending the whole Holy week at a resort or just visiting families of the countryside, the main purpose is to have a good time!

Nowadays, the supermarkets have special offers for the Holy Week, they make huge sales, and since schools are closed during the whole Holy Week, many families start leaving the city, traffic jams start slowing down and by Holy Thursday afternoon, it’s a completely different ambience! Those who stay in the city of Santo Domingo take it easy, with no traffic jam, they have the streets for themselves and driving becomes enjoyable.

But at the end one can start thinking: Was the Holy Week established as an excuse for us to have vacation or was it to meditate on the suffering and sacrifice for humanity of the man called Jesus Christ, as appearing in the bible?

 “To be or not to be, that’s the question” (Williams Shakespeare’s play Hamlet)