La marchanta selling cassava bread. biteslife.com

La marchanta dominicana selling Casabe (cassava bread). biteslife.com

Every week, she shows up at my mother’s kitchen door with a big bag of Casabe and a wide smile. A flat, mildly tasty and rare bread, Cassava bread is one of the few truly authentic meals Dominicans inherited from our long extinguished native ancestors, the Taino Indians.

Dulce, who is as sweet as her name, travels over 20 km on foot every day, selling Casabe around my hometown. She is happy and plump like an Italian mama, except she’s not Italian and her life is far from happy. But who can really tell when you look at her picture? What are the troubles of life to a contented soul? These “marchantes”, named so because they “march” around in order to sell their products, are up with the sun and just like it, bring smiles to us all. The blessings of simple life, in a place where things are not so simple.