Paloma of the Dominican Republic
By Tim Hazell
Salomé Ureña de Henríquez (1850-1897) is the Dominican Republic’s most important female poet and educator. Her father, Nicolás Ureña de Mendoza, was a renowned lawyer, senator, and essayist. Salomé’s progressive mother, Gregoria Díaz y León, was responsible for her precocious daughter’s early student years.
Nineteenth-century Dominican women could attend classes only at the elementary school level. Undaunted, Salomé’s family opened the doors to literature, science, and art. Salomé published at 17 and became the protégée of writer and politician Dr. Francisco Henríquez y Caravajal. They married in 1880. Their children, Pedro, Camila, and Maximiliano, would later become highly respected 20th century figures as writers, philosophers, poets, and critics.
Salomé’s friendship with pedagogue Eugenio María de Hostos gave her the leverage to found the country’s first institution for women’s higher learning, the Instituto de Señoritas, in 1881.
The island’s political storms surface in her unique and distinctly multiracial Caribbean style of verse:
The tempest passes … birds of the area
Take flight as spirits of love and consolation!
A firmament of peace numbs the sea and winds are silent.
1 cup bulgur wheat (available at Bonanza)
1 1/4 lb. ground beef
1/4 cup raisins, chopped
1 small red onion
A few sprigs parsley
1/2 cup mint leaves
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups oil
Soak the bulgur in water overnight. Drain and scoop up small amounts with your hands, squeezing out as much water as possible. Place half the bulgur in a bowl. Grind the other half in a food processor until a paste has formed. Combine the paste with the unblended wheat in a bowl. Process or finely chop the red onion, parsley, and mint. Add to the bulgur. Season 1/4 pound of the meat with garlic and onion powder, black pepper, cumin, coriander, oregano, and salt and add to the bowl. Mix all ingredients together very well with your fingers or a spatula.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan. Add the rest of the ground beef and raisins. Season with salt and pepper, and brown uniformly. Turn off the heat and allow to cool. Scoop about two tablespoons of the wheat mixture into the palm of your hand. Flatten it out and place a spoonful of cooked meat in the center. Carefully fold the wheat mixture over the filling, forming small cylinders. Seal the ends. Refrigerate for a minimum of one hour to solidify. Heat two cups of oil over medium-high heat. Test for a sizzle with a small piece of wheat mixture. Deep-fry the quipes in batches. Serve immediately with a favorite salsa.
In Dominican folklore, Taíno Indian spirits, the burning of herbs and flowers, small bracelets given to the newborn, and ax heads incorporated into house structures for protection are part of native traditions. Dominican cuisine is truly multicultural! These fritters reflect influences of settlers from the Middle East in the southern portion of the island.