This specific post may serve two purposes. First, if you enjoyed the adventure trip to Puerto Rico and are looking for something criollo (native to the Island and our people) to eat, this will help. And second, if you don’t know where to travel when time and money allow you to, the food issue will have you flying to Borinquen. Our food, as every place on this planet, is unique. The way it’s cooked, the taste, the look and the taste (yes, I said it already, but you have to understand it tastes great) makes our food one of a kind. There’s food that we eat all year ‘round, and there’s other that we eat more during the holidays.
The seasoning is one important part of our cooking. We don’t just add a little of salt and a little of pepper. We have specific seasoning or adobo (this is when I start with names of stuff in Spanish, so be ready for more) for every food. And what makes anything great? Sofrito, a mixture of herbs and stuff… (bottom line, sofrito is great, Google it if you need more info). That’s one of our secrets that every one knows about. Rice with beans, add some sofrito. Rice with chicken (arroz con pollo, my moms best dish), of course there is sofrito in it. And so on with many of our dishes (now I’m craving arroz con pollo).
Let’s pretend for a second you arrived to Puerto Rico and are hungry. You could eat some BK, or Mickie D’s, or the red-haired girl with pony tail (and YES, we have those “restaurants” here too) but you want to taste some awesome food. “Where should we go?”, you ask your friend. The answer, Piñones! A place in Carolina really close to the beach, near the Aiport, where greasy, tasty food is served. Seafood, land food, pinchos (Shish Kabob, but tastier) and mofongo (fried plantain) is in every menu. Let’s take a minute and explain mofongo to you. One of my friends from Washington, DC tasted mofongo once and said it tasted like potato. We did not like that comparison (really, potato?), but we understood that we have to compare new food to the one we already know. Some mofongo with chicken or shrimp, served in a pilón (once again, Google it) or served plain with some steak and mayo-ketchup (that’s an easy one, c’mon). Mofongo was made on the third day when God wanted some great food, really (it’s a joke. I hope no one gets offended)! We can spend this whole post in Piñones, but we have some other places to go.
Enough mofongo for now, lets move a little bit to the center of the Island (I will only read this post once since is making me hungry), Cayey. There is a part of the town of Cayey known as Guavate where the main attraction is rotisserie pork (lechón asao’). It’s a pork, a full grown pork… here’s the picture, it’s easier that way. And it’s served in many different ways: with some tostones, guineos, or some rice with pigeon peas (arroz con gandules) and morcillas (this is one you have to Google because I refuse to explain how it’s done). And make sure to get that down with some beer, juice or water (even the bottled water is great). That’s not even where the fun is. Guavate, other than the food, has a great atmosphere. There is always music everywhere, people are always happy and there is someone weird enough to make you have a good time. You will see people in Jeeps, some will arrive in horses (a lot of people will arrive in horses), but what is sure is that you will have a great time on a great weather.
I can go on, and on, and on (you get the point) about the food of Puerto Rico. But this blog will not be enough to cover it all. Just remember to ask the locals when you travel to the Island or your Boricua friends to cook something for you. You can ask for alcapurrias, bacalaitos, mondongo… If you what to eat some Christmas specials (other than arroz con gandules), ask for some pasteles (that is not cake in Spanish), tembleque, arroz con dulce, and a whole lot of stuff that we eat and prepare fried and with love (no other combination is better).
Feel free to share with us some other food that I know I missed in this post, or foods that you cook in your culture or family. Remember to share this post and, if this is the first one you are reading, check my first two posts and share them too. I have no idea what I will write about next time. But knowing us Boricuas, there is a lot to tell. Until then, cójanlo suave (you should know what this means)!