Man…That is Good!…
This was the reaction of an American soldier when he tried the popular Dominican mashed plantain dish for the first time in the US-occupied Dominican Republic (between 1916 and 1924) and from that point on the expression “Man, (that is) Good!” was uttered so many times by so many other soldiers that the locals started saying the same thing, except that in their broken English, instead of saying “Man..Good” they said “Mangú”. Ok, you’ll have to admit, that story is kind of cute but the fact is that it’s just one of many versions in Dominican folklore of where the name for the hearty dish came from. I tend to believe that Dominicans had a name for it way before the “visitors” arrived. No one really knows how the name originated, but the dish itself has African roots.
Traditionally served at breakfast and sometimes for dinner, mangú is a Dominican staple enjoyed by people of all socio-economic levels. Farmers, particularly, prefer this hearty dish for breakfast to be well prepared for the rigors of the day, not to mention that boiled plantains, which are the main ingredient, pack a nutritional punch to make mangú not only delicious but also nutritious.
For restaurants such as Mecho’s Dominican Kitchen in Washington, DC, having this emblematic Dominican dish on their menu is a must. Dominican restaurants like Mecho’s are usually a quasi-buffet style, where you can walk in and find prepared foods ready for you to choose and enjoy instantly, so it’s very likely that you will see mangú the next time you visit your local Dominican restaurant. Look for the tray with the layer of sautéed onions on top of a bed of delicious mashed plantains.
There may be variations on the way the mangú is prepared as each restaurant or individual may personalize the dish to their own taste. Some people may mash the plantains to a very smooth texture while others prefer a more, lumpy and chewy result. Mangú is tipically served with a fried item on the side, such as Queso Frito (fried cheese), Salami (Dominican sausage) or fried eggs besides the sautéed onions. But if you really want to indulge yourself and have the true Dominican experience, be sure to order mangú with “Los Tres Golpes” (the three strikes) which is a combination of Salami, Queso Frito, and Fried Eggs. Add a slice of avocado to that and you will travel, vicariously to your favorite Dominican town.
Mangú is served daily at Mecho’s Dominican Kitchen. If you’re very hungry and don’t want to wait much, be sure to arrive early as this popular item runs out quickly or call ahead of time to have the flavorful dish prepared for you a la carte. Visit Mecho’s Dominican Kitchen in Wahington, DC or visit us online at www.mechoskitchen.com