Tostones y Salami

Fried plantains and salami is a staple dish of the Dominican Republic cuisine. The versatility of the plantain has fed generations of Caribbeans in completely new and interesting ways, and you’d be hard pressed to find a meal without some iteration of plantain in the Caribbean cuisine. While sausage had existed in the Dominican Republic before World War Two, Dominican cooked salami, as it is known today, came to be with the arrival of Jewish refugees. The infamous Dominican dictator, Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, desperate for a boost in public opinion, stood as one of the only world leaders to accept people seeking asylum from the Nazis. Only a fraction of the Jewish people ever made it onto the island, but with them, they brought their European expertise of cooking processed meat. Thus, the modern Dominican salami was born. It continues to thrive not only because it’s surprisingly delicious and addictive, but because of the socio-economic conditions in the Dominican Republic that make it such a cheap and reliable source of food. Even here in the United States, that’s how I’ve always known the meal—a delicious, filling meal during good times and bad times. It’s a dish I’d never say no to, even though I probably should. I already consider myself to be pretty American, but this meal will serve as an anchor to my family and my heritage. The prospect of future generations tasting the satisfying crunch of a plantain alongside the juicy saltiness of a salami makes this dish a tradition I have to continue to pass down.

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