In my life, I have eaten many delicious and not so delicious foods. I have savored foods that are fattening, foods that are healthy, foods that are savory, and foods that are sweet. Living in Miami I have had the chance to taste dishes from many different parts of the world, my scale can attest to that. With all that I’ve tasted on my culinary adventures, I did not think it would be possible to blow my mind or rather my taste buds. However, I stood corrected on a fantastic trip to the Dominican Republic (where my family is from). On this trip I was introduced to the most mouth watering, insanely satisfying dish imaginable called Yaroa. I never thought a combination like this was possible but now that I have tasted it, I ask myself where has this dish been all my life and how didn’t I come up with it myself.
It is a very distinct name for a very distinct dish. Hearing it for the first time, it is hard to even imagine what it can be. Yaroa can be categorized as a casserole of sorts, being served mainly by food trucks in the Dominican Republic and usually enjoyed after midnight by club-goers and famished night-owls. The dish is amazing as is, however what makes it more appealing is the experience. The first time my senses relished in Yaroas gratifying flavors, I was amongst great friends in the Dominican Republic. When my friends mentioned the name of the entree, I was very confused and even a little worried. This mouth watering dish originates from a city in Dominican Republic named Santiago. Santiago is lovingly referred to as “ciudad Corazon” or heart city, as it is found in the heart of the country. It is clear these folks have a lot of heart, to come up with such a taste bud enticing meal like this. Though when I feasted upon this dish for the first time, I was in the capitol city (Santo Domingo) that; however, did not take away from the experience.
This platter can be related to the American “chili cheese fries” or the Canadian “poutine”. Many tasty ingredients are added to this heart stopping dish and it can vary depending on which region of the country you are in. The delectable ingredients are layered lasagna style and placed into a Styrofoam to go box. Opening the box, you’ll feast your eyes on a wide range of colorful and tasteful elements. The most commonly used ingredients are: French fries (of course), sweet plantains, chicken, beef, pork, lots of cheese, and condiments like ketchup, mayo, and mustard. It’s safe to say that Yaroa is an array of fun flavors coming together to make a harmonious fare that anyone will enjoy.
Especially amongst the country’s youth Yaroa has become very popular. Its tantalizing flavors have not only helped the dish reach different high end restaurants in the country, but Yaroa’s popularity has also been enjoyed by city slickers as far as New York City. Yaroa’s gratifying flavors has made it a staple and if you ever find yourself roaming around the Dominican Republic with nothing to do and more importantly nothing to eat, make sure to stop by your nearest food truck (found in every corner), ask for a menu and if Yaroa is on the menu you’re in luck. It is like having your own little cheesy piece of heaven and once you sink your teeth into the first bite, you will never want it to end.
By Brenda Santana