Puerto Rican Food and Culture

Puerto Rican Culture and Food

Puerto Rican food is the essence of my memories growing up en la isla, and with every bite  I reminiscence on a not too long ago period in my childhood. Yes, I’m still young so it wasn’t too long ago. {Huge smile!}

Every time we visit Puerto Rico I indulge in its food.  I wholeheartedly want our child to have his own unique memories of foods when we visit Puerto Rico. It’s part of his culture. One that I want to indulge in when we’re visiting, and keep cultivating even if we’re far away from our isla bonita.

I remember my Abuela’s cooking in el fogón (cooking in iron cast pots over open fire). The best tasting arroz con gandules was cooked over a fogón.

Puerto Rican food Via Mercedes Dayanara Flickr Creative Commons
Via Mercedes Dayanara Flickr Creative Commons
Puerto Rican food: Arroz con gandules (Rice with pigeon peas)
Arroz con gandules (Rice with pigeon peas)

Of course, my version of arroz con gandules will never be like my Abuela’s. At 94 yrs. old I could never expect her to make it for us while we visit Puerto Rico.  So when in Puerto Rico I take advantage of every single opportunity to eat from manos Boricuas (Puerto Rican hands) especially my mother’s; and we occasionally eat out so our child can have his own taste of Puerto Rico.

If you ever travel to Puerto Rico here are my must try foods while visiting this beautiful Caribbean island with your family!

One of the dishes that I absolutely drool over is mofongo!   However, if you can’t visit Puerto Rico you can get a taste of it by trying out Diana’s yummy Mofongo with Spanish Olives recipe right here on Multicultural Kids Blog!

Mofongo is such a popular staple in Puerto Rican cuisine that you will also find it in Indian and Chinese restaurants across the island. I was surprised to see it on the menu in the Indian restaurant that we visited in Old San Juan.  In the picture below you can see we had chicken curry, naan, roti, a shrimp dish, and a yuca mofongo.

Yuca mofongo served with chicken curry
Yuca mofongo served with chicken curry.
Mofongo with chicken in a tomato based sauce.  Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Maldonado
Mofongo with chicken in a tomato based sauce. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Maldonado

Puerto Rico is also well known for its frituras (deep fried fritters).  This is just simply good eats, but not so healthy! But, I’m sure you can indulge once in a while can you?  You will find kiosks along the coast line selling frituras especially in Loíza. You can also find them during the festival celebrations and in any food vendor establishment around the island. Here’s a good variety of frituras to pick from!

  • bacalaítos:  a seasoned flour mixture with pieces of cod fish.
  • alcapurrias:  a seasoned meat filled dough “masa” made out of yuca or green bananas.
  • rellenos de papa:  a seasoned meat filled dough of mashed cooked potato.
  • sorullos:  a dough mixture made out of corn flour that is filled with cheese or guayaba. Sometimes it is fried into small oval shaped balls without filling.  Growing up I had these often for breakfast!
  • piononos:  sweet plantain slices filled with seasoned meat.

During our visit to Puerto Rico we stopped at a place called La Granja in Barrio Guajataca in Quebradillas.  It’s a small shop that sells Puerto Rico souvenirs, specialty treats, and of course, frituras!  I bought the most delicious mouth watering alcapurria in the world and chugged it down with some chilled Coco Rico soda. Nothing like having a cold coconut drink on a hot, sunny day in Puerto Rico.

Alcapurria with a Coco Rico soda.

Plátanos are a staple in Puerto Rican food.  You can see it in the mofongo, and tostones (twice fried green plantains)  but what about a plantain soup?! Yes, plantain soup is creamy, hearty, and down right delicious island comfort food. Did you know that the demand for plátanos is so high that they are often imported from neighboring countries?

Creamy, hearty plantain soup.
Creamy, hearty plantain soup.

Puerto Rican food has influences from Africa, Spain and its native Taíno Indians thus creating unique aromatic flavors and tasty ingredients.  Although I do recreate these flavors with recipes passed down from my Abuela to my Mamá there is nothing quite like eating in Puerto Rico.


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Frances Díaz Evans is a Latina Author, Educator, Multicultural and Language Advocate. She holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of the East in Puerto Rico and a master's degree in Spanish education from the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina. She is the founder and writer of the multicultural, bilingual parenting website, Discovering the World Through My Son's Eyes and Discovering Español (Discovering Spanish), a business dedicated to teaching Spanish online. She can be found musing on her blog, Facebook and her favorite social media platform Instagram.

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2 thoughts on “Puerto Rican Food and Culture”

  1. Wow, this all looks so delicious! I love what a mix of cultures Puerto Rican food represents! Just curious, how did your son like the food in Puerto Rico?

  2. Ahhhhhh Leanna he loves arroz con gandules, but everything else that he’s tried he doesn’t like…. he’s a Southern boy at heart! I’ll keep offering and having him taste it, hopefully one day he’ll love it as much as I do!!!

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