Richard, and all you other culinary anthropologists that make this the best food reading out there, what should I know that I am missing about Dominican food? I'll be there later this week. I have been to the DR before, and know several people who are from or have spent extensive time in the DR. Nonetheless, I can't get a handle on the food. (It doesn't help that there are few Dominicans in Chicago and no restaurants that I know of.)
Is there just no "there there" when it comes to cooking? I know about sancocho and chicarones de pollo, but in my limited experience, the local food was kind of simple and bland, especially when one considers the food of other countries in the same neighborhood -- e.g., Haiti, Cuba, PR, Jamaica. The influences would seem to be there.
I will digress and note that I was similarly perplexed by the incredibly bland home cooking I had all over Costa Rica -- a verdant country surrounded by other nations with great food. (BTW, don't tell me about Irazu. In my experience, the owners there had the good sense to add spice and flavor for Americans who, ironically perhaps, expect something intersting from that part of the world.) Gallo pinto is the worst thing anyone has ever done with leftover beans and rice; it is not nearly the same as congri (aka moros).
Please correct me and enlighten me about what I should look for in Dominican food. Otherwise, I shall have to subsist on Presidente pilsner, Brugal rum, and the local cigars (usually dominican filler with cuban wrapper), which won't be all bad.