If you’re like me, you probably first pronounced the name of this next country with the stress on the second syllable, like “Dominican Republic,” minus the final “n” in the first word and “Republic”. But that’s not correct. The correct pronunciation is more like the girl’s name Dominique, with an added “uh” sound at the end.
Dominica is a tiny island nation in the Caribbean, and a former French-then British colony. It isn’t related to the larger, Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic. Both people from Dominica and the Dominican Republic identify as Dominicans, but again, there’s the difference in pronunciation and stress.
Compared to other islands in the Caribbean, Dominica isn’t as big a tourist destination, which probably explains why it’s not as well known. But even though Dominica may be a bit more obscure, Derek and I were determined to give this globetrot our best efforts.
To start Saturday, we had cornmeal porridge sweetened with sugar and condensed milk, and hibiscus tea. This hot meal seemed more fitting for a December morning in Buffalo, where the temperature was in the thirties, than in Dominica’s capital, Roseau, where it was over eighty degrees.
After breakfast, we turned to Barby and Geography Now for an overview of the country.
For lunch, we had been eyeing a Caribbean restaurant not too far from our apartment, since it served food from Trinidad, which shares some similarities with Dominican food. But when we arrived, the storefront for Michelle’s Caribbean Cuisine was dark, even though we arrived after their posted opening hours, and there was no indication that they would be opening anytime soon. The silver lining was that we were near another eatery we’d heard about but hadn’t gotten around to trying yet, so we ended up enjoying some tasty but non-Caribbean sandwiches there.
Back at the apartment, we watched an episode from a short docuseries called 180 Days in Dominica. The series is about a young Canadian woman’s experience visiting family in Dominica, and the episode we watched focused on island food.
Later in the afternoon, we both prepared dishes for dinner, which were hopefully closer to actual Dominican cuisine. Derek made rice and peas with coconut milk, and also boiled sweet plantains. I made a casserole from the Dominican section of The World Cookbook, which calls for carrot and christophene (a kind of gourd that’s also known as chayote). I couldn’t find christophene, so I used zucchini, an alternative suggested by the recipe. Here’s one of our plates (even though its peel, brown from boiling, might look unattractive, the plantain was delicious):
The national dish of Dominica is mountain chicken, which made from the legs of a frog found only in Dominica and Montserrat, another Caribbean island. Other blogs have made adaptations of this dish with frog that can be purchased for consumption in the United States, or just with chicken, but I don’t think anyone has figured out a way to make the dish vegetarian-friendly. But our dinner was still satisfying without it.
The only feature films I could find that were filmed in Dominica were the second and third movies in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End. We didn’t feel that watching either film would really teach us anything about Dominica or its culture or history, though, so we passed on the idea of getting copies to watch. But, Derek did find a short twelve-minute film called “This is Dominica,” which shows the natural beauty of Dominica, and how its nickname, “Nature Island,” is well-deserved.
On Sunday morning, we had some more cornmeal porridge and hibiscus tea, before we both did chores for the work week ahead.
For lunch, I made us a pumpkin ginger soup, and Derek prepared dumplings (recipe from The World Cookbook) to accompany it. Like the porridge, the soup and dumplings seemed to go better with our chilly Buffalo weather than with Dominica’s balmy weather, though after eating the soup, we may have felt as warm as we would have if we had been in Dominica!
In the afternoon, we watched a British tourist’s video of his trip to Dominica (coincidentally, we also watched a video of his trip to Djibouti during our Djiboutian weekend), and then a second video about Dominica, the “Nature Island,” though by that point, we already knew a lot of things the video had to say from videos we had watched earlier.
We enjoyed more rice and peas, boiled sweet plantain, and casserole for dinner.
Even though the weekend didn’t go quite as planned, as we didn’t get to try the food at Michelle’s Caribbean, I think our Dominican globetrot was still successful overall. We brought Caribbean warmth and flavor to our Buffalo apartment, and now know a lot more about this island nation than we did at the start of the weekend. Thank you, Dominica!