My early investigations into yaroa, three years ago, revealed very little. Empanadas Monumental, which by all accounts brought this heavily layered Dominican dish to Upper Manhattan, has roots in the provincial capital of Santiago de los Caballeros — Santiago, in common speech. There, I've since discovered, yaroa became a beloved nighttime street food at the turn of the last century.
Caridad offers a domesticated rendition, a casserole, albeit one topped with mayoketchup. (I haven't partaken.) Though "Santiaguera" identifies it with the D.R.'s second city, the original dish may be named for an outlying town where a home cook first prepared it for family and friends: Gurabito de Yaroa. The word "yaroa" itself is in Taíno, a language spoken by some of the indigenous inhabitants of the region; its meaning is a mystery, to me.
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