ALANA’s Cooking Around the World: Dominican Style

The first event in the Africana, Latin, Asian and Native American (ALANA) Cultural Center’s Cooking Around the World series took place Tuesday and featured cuisine from the Dominican Republic. The event was coordinated by Colgate Mental Health Counselor and first-generation Dominican-American Stacy Araujo. 

First-year Mia Toribio-Lantigua is an international student who is native to the Dominican Republic. She describes Dominican food as a vibrant, multi-faceted art.

“It is very colorful,” said Toribio-Lantigua. “There are many seasonings [in the food], but it’s not spicy. It’s like an explosion of different seasonings. The Dominican Republic is very colorful, not just because of the beaches and the nature, but also because the people have colorful souls.” 

The food selection, carefully curated by Araujo, was certainly both colorful and flavorful. 

The meal prominently featured a Latin American staple: plantains. Plantains are starchy, yellow fruit that belongs to the banana family. While they look almost identical to bananas, they taste much more like potatoes unless they are ripened, in which case they acquire a sweeter taste as they age. The plantains used for the meal were chopped into slices, fried, flattened and fried again. The frying process transformed the plantains from unassuming banana-like slices into delicious, crispy chips known as tostones, which retained the starchier flavor of unripened plantains. Other components of the meal included fried sausages and cheese, which students could place on top of the tostones to create a bite-sized sandwich. 

The final dish prepared for the event was mangú, which also utilizes plantains, but the plantains are boiled and then mashed, in a process similar to making mashed potatoes. Students assisted in mashing the plantains, which were combined with salt, butter and onions. To complement the array of foods, students also helped prepare a sauce composed of equal parts mayonnaise and ketchup. 

The dinner as a whole received rave reviews from attendees, such as sophomore Jackson Moran. 

The food was amazing,” said Moran. “It had a truly great consistency and flavor. The sauce on top was my favorite part – compliments to the chefs.” 

The event also served as an educational experience, as freshman attendee Maya Khadem remarked. 

“I loved learning a bit about Dominican culture through its food,” said Khadem. “I had a great time socializing while cooking; it was really great to do an activity that I haven’t been able to take part in since I’ve been home.”

The Cooking Around the World series will continue to provide opportunities for students to eat, socialize, learn and discover new cultures. ALANA invites students to explore Ethiopian, Indian and Navajo cuisine and culture throughout the remainder of the series, which hosts its next event on Oct. 24, featuring Ethiopian dishes.