The Dominican passion for sharing food extends to more than just hospitality; even the poorest Dominicans are able to sacrifice what little they have in order to feed a stranger. One family with whom I have grown close lives in a small tin hut in a crowded community. When I asked the mother if I could buy some of the peanuts she sells, she immediately stated rummaging around her large basket to find the perfect ones for me. She handed me two bags of peanuts, two pieces of peanut brittle, and one coconut treat I have decided to name “I died and went to coconut heaven” (I didn’t tell her that; my attempts to make jokes in Spanish have been largely unsuccessful). When I tried to pay her, I was met by a stern look and a shaking head. I persisted but in the end she would not allow me to pay. She might be 80 pounds and 4’8’’, but that woman was strong. In hopes I too would gain superhuman strength, I devoured her gifts. The tastes of roasted peanuts, caramelized coconut, and pure sugar, as well as the taste of the pure desire to do something sweet for a fellow human, still linger on my tongue and in my heart.
Sarah, via her blog post about her experience doing hypertension research in the Dominican Republic this summer through Health Horizons International.