As most of you know, I am currently living (and was actually born and raised) on the Caribbean island of the Dominican Republic. An island mainly know for its baseball players, when it actually is so much more than that. Sure, even my little brother wants to be a pitcher for a major league team. But to really know Dominican Republic, to really feel its sazón, you have to sit down and eat with us.
I’m not talking about eating a light lunch or a sandwich, I mean really sitting down and eat your way through our culture. If you were to come over to any Dominican family house, you’d be served a never-ending meal. You think those food-critics for the Times are lucky eating 37-courses at El Bulli? Think again! They’ve probably never had a true Dominican meal. You’d sit down and snack on a toston (fried green plantain), drink some Merengue (a dance, but also a soda drink), and thank the gods. Braised Chicken; white, fluffy rice; red beans to pour over the rice; potato salad (my mother’s simple recipe: potatoes, carrots, eggs, mayo, and vinegar); sweet plantain casserole stuffed with ground beef and cheese; salad of cabbage and carrots, shaved. Honestly, I could go for days and make you wish you were here. Don’t forget dessert! A rich, juicy Tres Leches cake to go with your coffee. Nothing better!
|Pictured: Ilana (Aunt Clara’s Partner in Crime!)|
In comes Aunt Clara, the creator behind Dominican Cooking, a site that embraces our culture and gives the world a taste of Dominican Republic through her recipes. She will get you cooking Dominican food in no time! Her amazing recipes are detailed, explain a little history behind the food item and have delicious photographs to accompany them! She is kind of like a Dominican Rock Star actually, with her Dominican Cooking (for the gringos) and Cocina Dominicana (for the Spanish-speaking folks). Both sites are treasure chests filled to the brim with so much information, recipes, giveaways and an interactive forum to voice opinions (or just say how great the food was!).
I’ve been lucky enough to have her in my Twitterverse (as should you all @aunt_clara) and asked her a few questions to learn more about the creator behind the site. Without further ado, I give you Clara Gonzalez!
How long have you been blogging?About a year and a half.Now, let me clarify that, because the story is more complicated than that. My first website was not on a blog format, in fact it was a Geocities site (anyone remember those?) but even if that one had some recipes I shared, it was more of a personal website. Then came the cooking sites nearly 10 years ago, but blogging had not even been invented then. More specifically the type of format and platform we now call blogging did not exist (although I used to update a “thread” about my travels, much like bloggers would do now.About a year and a half ago I started blogging about my crafts, home improvement and my life in PuntaCana (where I now live) in a new blog I created, it proved an awesome experience, I loved it so much, and learned so much that I decided to change our two cooking sites into blogs mainly.
What inspires your cooking?
Dominican cooking tradition and our culture. I love food (perhaps too much), I love trying new foods, I love traveling, but I believe one’s present must at least be informed by the past. I also try to cook healthy, wholesome foods, even if sometimes I have to turn my back on tradition. Gastronomy – like everything – has to evolve, adapt.
I also believe that cooking is something tremendously personal and, unlike many bloggers and food writers, I do not mind at all that people adapt my recipes, sometimes changing them beyond recognition. I am here to inspire, not to dictate.
Do you have any blogger pet peeves?Not really. Some blogs fit my taste, the rest I don’t read and leave them to people with similar tastes.
Last Meal Menu, what would you have?
I would absolutely forget about eating healthy and go for all the things that I crave but of which cannot have as much as I’d like, specifically desserts, as I come from a long line of diabetics and am trying to prolong my state as a non-diabetic. I will stuff myself with all kinds of unhealthy desserts and die a happy person.
Thanks to Aunt Clara for her time and for developing such amazing recipes and sharing them with the world. But it does not stop there! Aunt Clara has a Dominican Cooking Cookbook available here through Amazon, a great gift for any lover of Dominican cuisine and a portion of the sales go to charity! Follow her on Twitter @aunt_clara and don’t forget to visit Dominican Cooking. You won’t regret it!