The vendors of Caña and Auga de Caña usually ride around the streets on tricycles carrying what look like large sticks. These sticks are sugar cane in its natural state. On the cart is a grinder / squeezer where the vendor can express the juice from the cane.
They also sell cane in bags. The outside brown skin is expertly sliced off exposing the cane inside. They sell the sticky, yellow cane in plastic bags. There are usually 3 to 4 pieces of sweetness to a bag. If the vendor does not give you a second bag ask for one. The empty bag is to spit the pulp waste after eating the cane.
I love eating these, even though sometimes they make my jaws hurt from biting into the cane. There is a true technique that needs to be acquired when eating the cane. My technique is to bite off a small piece and chew until the juice is out. Then spit the pulp into your second bag. It is best to spit it into the bag instead of into the street, its cane chewing etiquette. It can be difficult trying to get all the little pieces of pulp out of the mouth, but with practice it can be done.
The bread man usually walks carrying a large basket, pushes a cart, rides a bike or motorized vehicle. He has fresh baked bread and at times pastries from a local panadería / bakery. He is heard yelling out “Pan, panadero” (Bread, Bread Man).
Normally el Panadero is out very early in the morning providing the fresh baked goods for breakfast and making deliveries to the local stores and shops. Normally the evening Panadería has a large basket with a variety of breads for dinner or a snack.
This type of vendor sells pan de agua / water bread, both hard and soft. There is sweet bread that is a wonderful with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. My favorite is the garlic bread. It is covered with garlic, salt and oil. Fattening but so wonderful.
Some of the new-fangled bread vendors now have a motorized cart – motorbike with a nice variety of breads, sweets and even cold sandwiches. One of our local Panaderos has a large display case on the back of a motorbike with all sorts of goodies.
Panaderos in Colonial Zone:
*There is usually on that passes by the park San Jose (in front of the statue Montecino) around 6PM. You can get some great garlic bread or a little ham sandwich from him.
Street Vendors sell from carts or little permanent spots in the streets, beaches and doorways in all parts of the Dominican Republic. These street vendors are usually out no matter the weather. These sales people work from their little carts of varying types. Motorized, peddle carts, under an umbrella, push carts or horse drawn carts. Some carry a tray of food atop their heads even using a discarded fan cover as a basket.
These vendors can be seen everywhere bringing products to the people. Some of these vendors walk with the items they are selling dangling from every available place. They can be seen on foot in the streets. You can see them hanging out at an intersection or weaving in and out of traffic. They can be any place the cars are known to slow down (watch out at stops, you may get your windshield washed even if you do not want it). Some of these street vendors have permanent spots. Some are roamers. They are walking up and down the beaches. They can be seen almost anyplace in the country. Many times these vendors can be a nuisance and need to be chased away.
Some of these persistent sales people will take no for an answer while others see a potential “victim” and will be very persistent. All one needs to do is walk away if they can, wind up the window or don’t look at them. If they get aggressive call for the police, but most will not bother you. They see no need wasting their time with you when there are other potential buyers for whatever product they are selling.
You can buy almost any type of food from these vendors. There is such a great variety of food I cannot hope to list them all here. There are restaurants on wheels. You can buy a little bag of nuts, a pack of gum, a piece of fruit, or a few little coconut sweets. There are people selling meats, and the small filled pastries to a complete meal be it breakfast or pork with veggies.
Fruit and Juice
Buy a piece of fruit (to learn some of the names of foods) while walking around the city. A pealed and halved orange can be very refreshing to enjoy. There are many vendors all over selling fresh, and I mean fresh, fruit. Most of the fruits are picked that same day. Since it is fresh picked and locally grown the flavor is so much better. A mango, papaya, coconut or orange eaten here has so much more flavor. Please give some of the native fruit a try and see for yourself the difference.
You can purchase fresh squeezed juice, shaved ice (frio -frio), ice cream, corn on the cob, hard boiled eggs and a cup of coffee or bottle of beer. There are hamburgers (called Chimi Churris here), hot-dog and sandwich vendors. They sell fresh fruits and vegetables. Some sell the fruits already cut and plated which can be a very refreshing and healthy treat. Get a coconut and drink the fresh water right there in the street.
Important: While in Dominican Republic you must try some of these foods sold buy a street vendor. Be careful of anything served using ice. Make sure it is bag ice. Observe their serving and food storage practices also. Your stomach may not be quite as tough as the locals.
Buy some snacks or a hard boiled egg from a small plate carried by a vendor. You can buy fresh fish or even a live chicken murdered and cut up as you wait. One cannot get much fresher meat than this.
The non-food substances are plentiful also. There are people selling anything they can carry, push in a cart, or set up on a street. You can get paintings and souvenirs of any type and variety. Some made in Dominican Republic but most are made elsewhere. Get your shoes shined, buy calling cards, cell phone parts, watches, jewelry (including rosaries), greeting cards, lottery tickets, CD and cassette tapes with typical Dominican music, and newspapers. They sell things for the home, mops (a story “I Bought A Suape” on the Dominican Gringas Blog) , brooms, shelves, mirrors, cane mats and junk that they picked up in the street. There is even a knife sharpener with an electric grinder on his cart.
After a night out it is quite normal for the locals to stop and get a late night bite from a street vendor selling hamburgers, hot-dogs or a pork sandwich. It is always fun to get something to eat on the way to the next destination. You know how a late night snack, or any snack for that matter, always hits the spot.
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