Pasteles en hoja. Worst food ever.
Those were two lines that I wrote in my notebook after consuming a meal in the Dominican Republic that I felt needed some further investigation.
It is a very rare occurrence in my travels when I come upon a piece of food that I cannot finish on the attributes of taste. Only once every two years, perhaps, will I find a food that can defeat me.
Pasteles en hoja cleanly won this prize in the Dominican Republic. I generally show suspicion to any food that comes wrapped in palm leaves, as I am generally not going to see what I am actually going to eat after I purchase it. But I gave in at a supermarket cafeteria in Puerto Plata. I bought something called pasteles en hoja as the main course of a meal for my wife and I.
I expected pasteles en hoja to be some sort of rice dish, but when I unwrapped the tamale I found something that resembled a wet turd. I tried it, it tasted like a wet turd. My wife was pissed that I would bring such crappy food to our dinner table. Without guilt, we both chucked our scantly nibbled portions of pasteles in hoja into the trash — something that very rarely happens to food that lands on our dinner table.
This stuck in my craw — Why did I not like the taste of this food when I have eaten boiled testicles, roadkill, trash, Tibetan blood jello, baked grasshoppers, insects, dog, cat, guts without hesitation.
The last time a dish of food defeated me was in Guatemala in 2008: I tried to eat pig skin soup and failed.
Pasteles de hojas called in the Dominican Republic. Dominican pasteles are prepared with a masa of plantains and two tubers or a masa of three tubers. The masa is filled with ground meat sauteed with annatto powder, garlic, red onions, bell peppers, and tomato paste. Many Dominicans also add grapefruit or sour orange and basil. The masa is then placed in the middle of a banana leaf, folded, tied, and then boiled. Puerto Rican pasteles are also very popular on the island.
Editors note: I know this entry is going to provoke some bonehead to leave a comment that amounts to, “If you don’t like Dominican cooking then you should leave the country you ignorant baffoon!” I get these comments on each rare occassion that I try to work out the parameters on a food dish that I did not find tasty, but a difference of opinion is not acceptable to most people on the planet. If I do not like one dish of food in a country, I receive insults. For the sake of presenting an honest view of travel, I say when I like something as when I don’t.
I don’t like pasteles in hoja, worst food in the Dominican Republic.