The Many Flavors of Puerto Rico

The Many Flavors of Puerto Rico

There are 11 comments on the EDGE story from Apr 23, 2013, titled The Many Flavors of Puerto Rico. In it, EDGE reports that:

There may be no better way to understand a region's history than through its food.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at EDGE.

Since: Sep 12

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#1 Apr 26, 2013
Although Puerto Rican cooking is somewhat similar to both Spanish, Cuban and Mexican cuisine, it is a unique tasty blend of Spanish, African, Taíno, and American influences, using such indigenous seasonings and ingredients as coriander, papaya, cacao, nispero, apio, plantains, and yampee.
Locals call their cuisine "cocinacriolla".

Since: Sep 12

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#2 Apr 26, 2013
Cocina criolla (Créole cooking) can be traced back to the Arawaks and Tainos, the original inhabitants of the island, who thrived on a diet of corn, tropical fruit, and seafood. When Ponce de León arrived with Columbus in 1493, the Spanish added beef, pork, rice, wheat, and olive oil to the island's foodstuffs. Soon after, the Spanish began planting sugarcane and importing slaves from Africa, who brought with them okra and taro (known in Puerto Rico as yautia). The mingling of flavors and ingredients passed from generation to generation among the different ethnic groups that settled on the island, resulting in the exotic blend of today's Puerto Rican cuisine.

Since: Sep 12

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#3 Apr 26, 2013
A festive island dish is lechón asado, or barbecued pig, which is usually cooked for a party of 12 or 15. It is traditional for picnics and al fresco parties; one can sometimes catch the aroma of this dish wafting through the palm trees, a smell that must have been familiar to the Taino peoples. The pig is basted with jugo de naranjas agría (sour orange juice) and achiote coloring. Green plantains are peeled and roasted over hot stones, then served with the barbecued pig as a side dish. The traditional dressing served with the pig is ali-li-monjili, a sour garlic sauce. The sauce combines garlic, whole black peppercorns, and sweet seeded chile peppers, flavored further with vinegar, lime juice, and olive oil.

Since: Sep 12

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#4 Apr 26, 2013
Other typical main dishes include fried beefsteak with onions (carne frita con cebolla), veal (ternera) a la parmesana, and roast leg of pork, fresh ham, lamb, or veal, a la criolla. These roasted meats are cooked in the Créole style, flavored with adobo.

Puerto Ricans adore chicken, which they flower various spices and seasoning. Arroz con pollo (chicken with rice) is the most popular chicken dish on the island, and it was brought long ago to the U.S mainland. Other favorite preparations include chicken in sherry (pollo al jerez), pollo agridulce (sweet and sour chicken), and pollitos asados a la parrilla (broiled chickens).

Most visitors to the island seem to like the fish and shellfish. A popular fried fish with Puerto Rican sauce (mojo isleño). The sauce is made with olives and olive oil, onions, pimientos, capers, tomato sauce, vinegar, and a flavoring of garlic and bay leaves. Fresh fish is often grilled, and perhaps flavored with garlic and an overlay of freshly squeezed lime juice -a very tasty dinner indeed. Caribbean lobster is usually the most expensive item on any menu, followed by shrimp. Puerto Ricans often cook shrimp in beer (camarones en cerveza). Another delectable shellfish dish is boiled crab (jueyes hervidos).

Since: Sep 12

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#5 Apr 26, 2013
The rich and fertile fields of Puerto Rico produce a wide variety of vegetables. A favorite is the chayote, a pear-shaped vegetable called christophone throughout most of the English-speaking Caribbean. Its delicately flavored flesh is often compared to that of summer squash. Breadfruit, prepared in a number of ways, frequently accompanies main dishes. This large, round fruit from a tropical tree has a thick green rind covering its starchy, sweet flesh. The flavor is evocative of a sweet potato. Tostones -fried green breadfruit slices- accompany most meat, fish, or poultry dishes served on the island.

Tostones may also be made with plantains. In fact, the plantains seems to be the single most popular side dish served on the island. Plantains are a variety of banana that cannot be eaten raw. They are much coarser in texture that ordinary bananas and are harvested while green, then baked, fried, or boiled. When made into tostones, they are usually served as a appetizer with before-dinner drinks. Fried to a deep golden-yellow, plantains may accompany fish, meat, or poultry dishes

Since: Sep 12

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#6 Apr 26, 2013
Desserts usually include some form of flan (custard) or perhaps nisperos de batata (sweet-potato balls with coconut, cloves and cinnamon). Equally traditional would be a portion of guava jelly with queso blanco (white cheese). Chefs take the bountiful harvest of Puerto Rican fruits and create any number of desserts, including orange layer cake, banana cupcakes, and guava cake. The most delicious dessert may be a freshly prepared fruit cocktail. the pumpkin, which grows in abundance on Puerto Rico, is used not only to flavor soups and as a side vegetable, but also to make the succulent base of a traditional Puerto Rican cake. Similarly, the sweet potato is used both as a side vegetable and in making a regional sweet-potato cake.

Coconut is probably the most common dessert ingredient. Many delectable desserts are made with its milk (leche de coco), including coconut flan, coconut cream desserts, crunchy coconut squares, coconut with meringue, and candied coconut rice. Another classic preparation is coconut bread pudding (boudin de pasas con coco). Polvo de amor ("love powder") is prepared with grated coconut meat after the milk has been extracted. The coconut is mixed with a lot of sugar and placed in a kettle to cook rapidly, then served crisp and golden brown.

Puerto Ricans make a number of preserves and jellies. Both sweet and sour guavas are used for various concoctions -not only guava jelly, but guava shells in syrup, guava paste, and guava pudding. Papayas are made into preserved or desserts with sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. A mango dessert is made with virtually the same ingredients. Mangoes may be used for mamey preserve (dulce de mamey) or may be consumed raw.

Since: Sep 12

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#7 Apr 26, 2013
Finish your meal with strong, black, aromatic Puerto Rican coffee, which has been produced in the island's high-altitude interior for more than 300 years. Originally imported from the nearby Dominican Republic, coffee is still among the island's exports and is a suitable ending for any well-presented meal.

Because the island does not produce wine, it is entirely proper to order a cold beer before even looking at the menu. Beer, of course, is called cerveza throughout the Spanish-speaking world, the most popular brand on Puerto Rico is Medalla.

Since: Sep 12

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#8 Apr 26, 2013
Rum is the national drink, and you can buy it in almost any shade. Puerto Rico is the world's leading rum producer; 80% of the rum consumed in the United States hails from the island.

Today's rum bears little resemblance to the raw and grainy beverage consumed by the renegades and pirates of the Spanish Main. Christopher Columbus brought sugarcane, from which rum is distilled, to the Caribbean on his second voyage to the New World, and in virtually no time it became the regional drink.

It is believed that Ponce de León introduced rum to Puerto Rico during his governorship, which began in 1508. In time, there emerged large sugarcane plantations. From Puerto Rico and other West Indian islands, rum was shipped to colonial America, where it lent itself to such popular and hair-raising 18th-century drinks as Kill-Divil and Whistle-Belly Bengance. After America became a nation, rum was largely displaced as the drink of choice by whiskey, distilled from grain grown on the American plains.

It took almost a century before the rum industry regained its former vigor. This occurred during a severe whiskey shortage at the end of the World War II. By the 1950s, sales of rum had fallen off again, as more and different kinds of liquor became available on the U.S. market. Rum had been a questionable drink because of inferior distillation methods and quality. Recognizing this problem, the Puerto Rican government drew up rigid standards for producing, blending, and aging rum. Rum factories were outfitted with the most modern and sanitary equipments, and sales figures (encouraged by aggressive marketing campaign) began to climb.

The color of rum is usually gold, amber, or white. The lightest, driest rum is white. It can easily replace gin or vodka in dozens of mixed drinks that are eminently suited for consumption in the tropics. Many Puerto Ricans make Bloody Marys with rum instead of gin or vodka. The robust flavors of the gold or amber rums make them an effective substitute for whiskey. Whit white (clear) rum, orange juice and tonic water are the most popular mixers; amber rum is often served on the rocks. Puerto Ricans are fond of mixing it with various cola drinks. Gold rums, aged between four and six years (sometimes longer) in wooden casks are called ánejos. They are considered the most flavorful and distinctive on the island rums. They are smooth; drink them straight or on the rocks.

Bacardi is the Puerto Rican rum most widely consumed in the United States. It is followed by other popular brands, including, Ronrico, Castillo, and Don Q. The ánejos rums carry such labels as Bacardi Gold Reserve, Ron del Barrilito, and Seralles' El Dorado.

Since: Sep 12

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#9 Apr 26, 2013
Every resort offers the piña colada, which is made with cream of coconut, white Puerto Rican rum, and canned pineapple juice. the ingredients are thoroughly blended and served frappé-style in a tall cool glass, usually garnished with a maraschino cherry and a small paper parasol. But you may want to be more adventurous and sample some of the island's other cocktails, many of which are made with fresh fruit juices. Planter's punch, served over cracked ice, is the second most popular mixed rum drink for tourists.

Since: Sep 12

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#10 Apr 26, 2013
Piraguas:A shaved ice cone covered with syrup of fruity flavors such as passion fruit,coconut,guava tamarido or pineapple among others.

Those who sell "piraguas" are known as piragueros

you can find them near plazas in small carts creatively painted with bright colors.
Jorge

San Juan, Puerto Rico

#11 Apr 26, 2013
Nubeluz wrote:
Piraguas:A shaved ice cone covered with syrup of fruity flavors such as passion fruit,coconut,guava tamarido or pineapple among others.
Those who sell "piraguas" are known as piragueros
you can find them near plazas in small carts creatively painted with bright colors.
Puerto Rican piraguas:

www.youtube.com/watch... - Cached

My personal piragua is a blend or combination of 2 flavors: melao (sugar cane syrop) and lemon juice.

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