Indhira Suero Acosta wandered the aisles of Orlando Latin Market on a recent Monday evening. The sky outside was darkening.
She needed just a handful of items: some frying cheese, Dominican longaniza sausage, and a purple onion. In the produce display case, she found the meal’s anchor: platanos.
“I’m going to make a dinner for a friend from New Zealand and a friend from Brazil. They want me to show them how to prepare Dominican food — particularly tostones,” Indhira, 31, said with a hint of a smile.
Indhira, who is from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, was visiting friends in Florida. She graduated a few years ago with a master’s degree in journalism and media from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. She lived in St. Pete for two years as part of the Fulbright Program.
Indhira recalled how a friend, sensing her homesickness for the Dominican Republic, suggested they check out Orlando Latin Market.
“It felt so good to come here just to see other people, to hear the Spanish language being spoken, to see familiar products and to see the camaraderie and support people have for one another,” she said. “It felt like returning to something I knew well, even though it was in a place I didn’t know well.”
Indhira described Dominican food as diverse. “Una comida alegre,” she said. “A food that brings a sense of community, where people gather and spend time together. Like Dominicans do.”
Back to the meal Indhira would soon prepare for her friends: tostones with sauteed onions, fried cheese and longaniza.
“I hope they like it,” she said with a smile. “At least I know I will.”