Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay – Puerto Rico. An excellent way to start. I’d rather leave the emotion marinating somewhere around the chest/soul area. But I can’t; I’m here to tell you all about this magnificent country. Oh. Wait. Puerto Rico is not a country. It’s not a country?! No, sir/madam. Extraordinary, isn’t it? Puerto Rico is actually governed by the U.S. It’s what we call “commonwealth .”But nothing about it is common (unless we categorize exceptionality as something fairly ordinary). Dating all the way back to 1493. and Christopher Columbus, this Caribbean paradise is considered the world’s oldest colony. “Land of the Valiant and Noble Lord” or – Borikén was Puerto Rico’s initial identity in the Taino language (Indians). Another fun fact – Puerto Rico is an archipelago with two additional main islands: Culebra and Vieques (+ numerous uninhabited cays and islands). Paradise? Undoubtedly. And the food? Heavenly. These are our six foods you must try in Puerto Rico. Eat like a Boricua.
Welcome to Creole food paradise. Disclaimer: not your standard American version. This authentic Creole cuisine is an entirely different animal. Although the United States has immensely influenced Puerto Rico’s food scene, its authenticity still prevails. So, what’s the difference, and what is cocina Criolla (creole cooking)? Any American will immediately (and involuntarily) associate it with the state of Louisiana. – It’s everything but. Spanish-speaking islands drew their inspiration and culinary identity exclusively from Spanish Americans of European descent. So, whenever you’re eating an authentic Puerto Rican dish, remember its well-kept secret: Caribbean food + traditional European recipes – equals 100% ecstasy.
Narrowing down the list of awesomeness
It’s hard. It’s almost impossible. If you don’t speak Spanish, I recommend the following game: Be it a restaurant or just a random food joint; walk-in, close your eyes and play the good old darts with your index finger; wherever you land on the menu – order it. You can thank me later. Now, on to our six must-tries. (One of the most romantic things to do in Puerto Rico is dining with your darling. In the Caribbean, love goes through the stomach. Painfully accurate.)
This beachside heavenly appetizer, this little deep-fried fritter, is everything when you’re out exploring the beautiful coastal line of Puerto Rico. It’s your favorite meat-packed fuel. The dough (or “masa”) is made from grated green bananas, and taro root called yautia. It is then stuffed with meat and a whole lot of love, then placed in a sea grape leaf to form the desired shape before deep-fried until golden-brown. The best-known version of alcapurria is with ground beef, but you can opt for a second favorite – crab meat. Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, alcapurrias are grab-to-go Caribbean gold.
Ask any Boricua how they feel about Mofongo. Taíno and African influences are prevalent. Deep-fried plantain (picked green) is mashed with olive oil, garlic, and spices in a wooden pilon. The paste is then formed into a shape of an edible plate (clever design!) and served with meat. Various meat. This side dish can be served with chicken, octopus, crab meat, vegetables, or other seafood. It can also be served as a main dish, depending on how hungry you are. Our experts from DubaiIPT praise this Puerto Rican delight, as plantains contain above-average amounts of vitamin C.
Codfish fritters. God. Heaven is a place on Earth with these babies sunbathing in your hand. So simple yet magical beyond comprehension. Beach kiosks flaunt bacalaitos alongside alcapurrias. They know what they’re doing. Salted codfish is shredded and mixed with all-purpose flour and milk or water. Pretty straightforward dough stuff. But then, there’s adobo seasoning. And parsley. Mhm. Mouthwatering goodness takes a form of a delicate pancake. Their shape is flat and circular, but they can range in size. Many places sell Alcapurrias, but not all sell bacalaitos. Why? Because it takes skills to make these cloud nine babies.
4. Arroz con Gandules
Hey, these are six foods you must try in Puerto Rico. We cannot NOT talk about one of the most important national dishes of Puerto Rico, their pride and joy. It’s rice, right? How intricate can it be? – Hold my fork. This is no ordinary rice, it’s rice with pigeon peas, and there isn’t a family table in Puerto Rico without “pernil” (roasted pork) and arroz con gandules come Christmas. Turkey-gravy analogy. It’s that important. It’s a hearty meal; it’s grandmother’s love, it’s comfort food. It’s a support system. Rice is smothered in delicious sofrito sauce (Puerto Rican sofrito), olives, and red peppers.
Do we have any Italian cuisine lovers here? Prepare your world for a savory earthquake. This is Caribbean lasagna reaching new gastronomic heights. Care to guess the main ingredient? Plantain, correct! 10 points. Ground beef seasoned with oregano, olives, cumin, tomato sauce, and sofrito. This perfect mixture is then placed between heavenly layers of thinly sliced plantains, and to the oven it goes. Oh, and it’s topped with grated cheese. Really good cheese. Good people of Italy, it looks like you’ve got yourself a nemesis. So, if you’re visiting Puerto Rico, heads up: exercise when traveling to this country is mandatory. To be fit during your stay, one HIIT session a day will keep you in shape.
Sweet tooth hour. Coconut everything. We’ve all been acquainted with the notorious, the one and only – Piña colada. (or should I use the plural?) Anyhow, it’s Christmas time again. And it’s coconut milk pudding time. So, what is Tembleque? It’s simply one of the most important sugar pillars of Puerto Rico. If we were to translate its name, it would mean: Tremble. Or jitter. How exciting. And how tasty. And simple: fresh coconut milk, sugar, cornstarch, and just a tad bit of salt and cinnamon. It doesn’t take much to make pure magic. Pair it with one of the world’s finest coffee beans.
Once you go Creole, you never go back. If there’s any advice I can give you about the foods you must try in Puerto Rico, it’s this: Try everything, try it everywhere. From kiosks to fine dining, I promise you; it will be impossible to tell the difference. It’s Puerto Rico.