Why all the Salt, Sopita, Sugar, dyes, & big veg

DrChrisHE

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Jul 23, 2006
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OK--Can someone PLEASE tell me what the deal is in this country with the obsessional use of salt, "sopita" or Maggi (pre-packaged super concentrated salty flavoring cubes) and sugar? I have had two housekeepers go into total tizzy fits when we run out of "Sopita" because they have NO idea how to flavor food without it. I've tried so hard to be patient and explain that herbs, limones, things like Rum, beer, etc. can be used to flavor foods without the negative consequences of so much salt (the alcohol burns off on the rum and beer, btw.) I think it stems from the salt obsession (which may be the cause of the rampant hypertension I see). Our current housekeeper takes a heaping spoon of salt and puts it on ONE egg (Gag). Dh went on an eating strike until I took away the salt from her to make the point NOT to put salt in our food (so she made up for it with the sopita/Maggi. Is it the advertising, lack of education on cooking and the health effects of certain things?

Then there's the sugar obsession but the US has that too.

While I'm at it...artificial dyes are a really big thing here. Even the cleaning supplies have to be dayglo. Maybe someone can clue me in on that one too especially since I've noticed on the S side of the island there is a distinct preference for all things WHITE when compared with anything avialable tan or darker. For example, it is impossible to find Brown Rice (arroz integral) in large bags and virtually none of the locals know how to cook it (they even call it arroz malo. The same is true for bread. Pan integral is seen as inferior. I've been trying to increase fiber in the orphanage staff diet).

One more thing...why do vendors always want to sell me the LARGEST vegetables (and even in the prepackaged stores this is all that is available)? I really find zanahorias/carrots the size of my femur to be tough and tasteless so I used them as dog bones (our golden retriever loves them and sits down holding one between his paws and chomps right on thru). Pepinos/Cucumbers are the same--the large ones are pithy and not nearly as flavorful, plus they are bitter.

Thanks for any and all insight on these...humor invited.:p
Paz y salud,
DrChrisHe
 
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fightfish

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I think much of the cooking and spicing of the local dishes can explained by two things: economics, and maybe more influential, that?s what they have seen before.

I remember my girlfriend cooking rice in my house and putting a plastic bag on top of the rice in the pot. I explained that because I actually had a lid for the pot that the bag wasn?t neccessary, and she retorted that her mother always put the bag there because it helps cook the rice more quickly.!!
 

PICHARDO

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May 15, 2003
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I think much of the cooking and spicing of the local dishes can explained by two things: economics, and maybe more influential, that?s what they have seen before.

I remember my girlfriend cooking rice in my house and putting a plastic bag on top of the rice in the pot. I explained that because I actually had a lid for the pot that the bag wasn?t neccessary, and she retorted that her mother always put the bag there because it helps cook the rice more quickly.!!
She's right! The use of a plastic to cover the rice under the lid, will in turn provide a rudimentary "expansion chamber" where the extra vapor will collect and using the plastic "properties" as it expands to hold the build up of vapors without letting it escape as the lid is built for, would in turn have made the time shorter to cook the rice...

Lids will keep popping allowing the extra vapor to escape and never forms a seal around the lip of the pot; whereareas the plastic does the trick best!

Think of it like a rudimentary pressure cooker, where you want to use vapor pressure to cook meals faster and tender as possible.

The same goes for boiling corn in pots, you can use the left over wraps from the corn to cover the pot and use the natural properties of the covers to elevate the temperature much more efficient than using the lid alone...
 

Janin

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Jul 31, 2007
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365 Days......

Saz?n L?quido Ranchero rulezzzzzzz....

If you go to a 'comedor' normally there's the 'bandera' choice of 'res, pollo, cerdo', sometimes 'chivo'.
The taste of the meat part is almost always the same...... :p plus a lot of cooking oil on it.
Real cooking is 'muy inc?modo'....

Janin
 

fightfish

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Another thing that plays a major part in the cooking and purchasing habits of Dominicans is lack of consitant refridgeration. Mayonaise, for instance, or mayonaise based salads are not encountered often because they cant keep for more than one meal. Same goes for meats. This might explain the daily or hourly trek to the colmado for many folks. I used to buy live chickens just so they would keep until we were ready to 'use them'.
 

M.A.R.

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Feb 18, 2006
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mas es mejor...

I know how you fell Dr.
when i go to the market I try to pick the smallest vegetables even here in teh US, because to me those huge vegetable don't look normal, too much growth chemicals or whatever it is.

There is a sugar obsession, Dominicans use heaps of sugar for anything they need to sweeten, they think the more the better.

It all boils down to education, this is how people have learned to prepare their foods and they don't give it a second thought, people need to be educated.
 

bob saunders

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Jan 1, 2002
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Well, my mother in law does most of the cooking in our house, and she used to make liberal with the salt, but now, she looks with less salt and sugar, but still adds it to her own dish after. She has always used plenty of fresh garlic, italian herbs, peppers, black pepper, hot sauce...etc. She often bakes chicken in the oven which is incredible and always skins the chicken if she frys it, so I guess she with her grade six education is more educated than the average. If your cook doesn't cook the way you want, get rid of them.
 

Berzin

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Nov 17, 2004
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Yes, education is important, but people are usually reluctant to change. They just say "that's the way I've always done it, that's the way my mother did it", etc.

Ever try talking a latino into steaming rice as opposed to cooking it in oil?

Or baking/roasting meat instead of frying it?

Or serving portions of rice as a side instead of as a main course?

Or explaining that a "portion" should be no bigger than the palm of your hand?

Or that fruits/veggies should not be stored in tightly sealed plastic bags in the refrigerator for weeks on end?

Ay, mi madre...:rambo:
 

El sabelot?

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Jan 7, 2008
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(our golden retriever loves them and sits down holding one between his paws and chomps right on thru). DrChrisHe
Unrelated, I know, but if and when I move back, this is the breed of dog I'm taking with me. Now I know what other type of dog food I could buy.
 

Funnyyale26

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Dec 15, 2006
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Not all dominicans cook the same, that is why my mom says ''nadie vaya a casa e nadie"...In my family, yes we use adobo and sopita but only as accents, not so much that the food comes our artificial and salty and always use olive or canola oil...also, we make our own sazon with oregano, aji gustoso, ajo, etc... When we make Sancocho, we even remove all the grease that goes all the way to the top.
 

Dolores1

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May 3, 2000
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When I was first pregnant, the first thing my obstetrician asked me to make sure I was not using was "sopita." Since then, it is rare that we use it in my house. Our parents didn't use it. It is a modern day invention -- probably dating to the early 70s, but before it was unheard of.
 

Chirimoya

Moderator - East Coast Forum
Dec 9, 2002
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Not all dominicans cook the same, that is why my mom says ''nadie vaya a casa e nadie"...In my family, yes we use adobo and sopita but only as accents, not so much that the food comes our artificial and salty and always use olive or canola oil...also, we make our own sazon with oregano, aji gustoso, ajo, etc... When we make Sancocho, we even remove all the grease that goes all the way to the top.
Exactly - its a good cook vs bad cook thing, not a Dominican thing. You could make the same observation about cooking in any country.
Look at the recipes in our site and cookbook: most if not all flavourings are natural. I think some recipes call for stock - but people can choose whether to use commercial cubes or make their own home made meat, chicken, fish or veg stock.
 

Dolores1

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Interesting... the bouillon cube was introduced in 1912 by Knorr. Would have to check when Knorr began marketing this in the DR. And Maggi (Nestle) is the competition. I don't know who was first. I figure about in the early 70s they started penetrating the local market. But between the marketing efforts of both, and lack of true culinary education of the population, they did get a hold of local cooks. Hard to beat the convenience. Drop a cube versus make true chicken stock...
 

DrChrisHE

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Jul 23, 2006
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WOW--thanks for the replies! That's quite an array of opinions and I'm sure there are more out there.

My opinion on the matter with the sopita is that I learned to cook from my mom--in a very Italian family where "cooking from scratch" (how does one say that in Spanish?) was considered a marketable skill. The only thing we bought in a can was tomato paste and olive oil (a big tin).

Some of the local docs DO warn their pregnant patients about the Maggi obsession being bad but they tend not to explain why. There is also a theory that MSG is actually a much more harmful product that we've been led to believe (and it's ubiquitous in the US too). Several studies show that MSG is actually both addictive and leads to obesity (probably due to the addictive quality creating cravings for the food).

Dolores--Do you know if the cubes here have the same levels of salt and MSG as the US or are they higher? In the US, Campbells (as in SOUP) started gradually lowering the levels of salt in their REGULAR canned soups back in the 1970s (in response to the link between hypertension and salt) PLUS they started a reduced salt line.

?Gracias!
DrChrisHE
 

DrChrisHE

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Jul 23, 2006
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I thought while we are on the topic...
FYI--ALLERGY ALERT ON KNORR...
Unilever Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Cod Fish in a Limited Number of Cartons of "Knorr ? Chicken Flavor Bouillon" Cubes

Contact:
Jennifer Stalzer
201-894-7760

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- Englewood Cliffs, NJ -- February 1, 2007 -- Unilever of Englewood Cliffs, NJ, in cooperation with the FDA, is voluntarily recalling "Knorr? Chicken flavor Bouillon" Cubes, UPC # 4800171162, Best if Used by MAR 17 2007, because it contains fish flavored bouillon cubes and therefore the presence of fish is undeclared. The affected product is packaged in 2.5 oz (72g) cartons (6 cubes in each carton) marked with UPC # 4800171162 located on the end flap of the carton and Best If Used By Date of MAR 17 2007 located on the end flap of the carton.

People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to fish run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume this product. The recall relates to one production code of "Knorr? Chicken flavor Bouillon" cubes and is limited to 400 cartons produced. No other Knorr? bouillon product (including powders, packets or cubes of any other product code) is being recalled. The company is working in cooperation with the FDA and is also issuing an alert through the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network.

The affected "Knorr? Chicken flavor Bouillon" cubes were distributed to a limited number of customers located in Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. Products may have reached consumers through retail stores in these states and adjoining areas. The affected product is being recalled from consumers and retailer store shelves, back rooms and warehouses.

No adverse reactions have been reported to date.

The recall was initiated after the company received a complaint from a retail store about the incorrect label and it was determined that product containing fish was distributed in packaging that did not reveal the presence of fish in the ingredient list on the label.

Consumers who have purchased "Knorr? Chicken flavor Bouillon" cubes, UPC # 4800171162, Best If Used By MAR 17 2007 are urged to discard it immediately and contact the company at 1-866-829-9455 for a full refund.
 

dv8

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Sep 27, 2006
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when i do the cooking there is little flavouring. those fancy cudes and sauces mess up the real lavour of food so i normally go for salt (in moderation), pepper, reb paprica powder and garlic. on occasions ron, wine, honey, spring onions, parsley.
minovios first rice-less meal was met with tears (literally) and accusations i want to starve him (long way to go, baby). he has high cholesterol (genetics) so i really have to look after his diet.
in my one and a half year here we used one pound of sugar (for homemade cheesackes, mostly) and i find it hard to explain i do not sugar my coffee...
speaking of sugar consumpion: in my office 4 pounds of sugar dissapeared in a week!
 

Chirimoya

Moderator - East Coast Forum
Dec 9, 2002
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I do use cubes for some things - but I try and get low-salt, MSG free ones which means getting them at the health food shop (Organica) where they are not always available and when they are, they cost more than gold nuggets, or bring them with me from overseas.

Yes, a pound of sugar lasts for months here too - and I'll never forget my sister-in-law's weekly shop where she loaded several 5lb bags onto her cart.