It’s time to go further south, and take our tastebuds with us, to Puerto Rico! Puerto Rico is located in the Caribbean Sea, just east of the Dominican Republic.
It’s a group of islands that were originally inhabited by indigenous people, and then they were settled by Amerindians. In 1493, Christopher Columbus arrived and the Spanish later began to colonize the island. The indigenous population depleted shortly afterward, and African slaves were brought to the islands to work. The country had several ports built to thwart off invasion, and it worked against the several Nations that tried. But in 1898, the US invaded Puerto Rico during the Spanish-American War, and as a result, Spain surrendered the country (along with a few others in the area). Puerto Rico is currently an unincorporated territory of America.
Now Puerto Rico has a cuisine created by its mixture of cultures that have occupied the country over the years; a combination of indigenous Taíno Amerindian, African, Spanish (and other European) cultures fashion the unique Puerto Rican flavour.
Puerto Rico, like its neighbouring countries, relies on the incredible assortment of fruits and vegetables that grow on the islands. Some of these ingredients include: potatoes, yuca, chayote, ajicitos (peppers similar to habañeros), avocados, jackfruit, coconut, bananas, guava, key limes, papaya, soursop, tamarind, okra, coffee, corn, rice, and beans. Meat and seafood-wise, the people of Puerto Rico use a wide variety in their cooking, including (but certainly not limited to): beef, goat, chicken, pork, lamb, oxtail, conch, octopus, tuna, shrimp, crab, and lobster.
Puerto Rican food is known to be rich, flavourful, and exotic. With their vast array of ingredients, they create beautiful dishes. Cocina criolla is the typical way of cooking in Puerto Rico, and it’s essentially a spinoff of Créole cooking. Examples of typical Puerto Rican dishes include: asopao (gumbo), jueyes hervidos (boiled crab), sopón de pescado (fish soup), empanadas, almojábanas (cheese rice fritters), salmorejo (crab stew), and boudin de pasas con coco (coconut bread pudding). Puerto Rico is also the world’s leading producer of rum, so rum-based drinks are very common.
Just in time for the weekend, here is a recipe for the Piña Colada, Puerto Rico’s national drink.
Traditional Piña Colada
3 ounces coconut milk
6 ounces pineapple juice
1 ½ ounces white rum
For the blended variation, place all of the ingredients in the blender with 2 cups crushed ice. Otherwise, place ingredients in a shaker half filled with ice, then pour into a large glass and garnish with pineapple.
Stay tuned, because on Wednesday here at Food Freeway, there will be an authentic Puerto Rican recipe for you to try out. Have you ever tried Puerto Rican food? If so, what’s your favourite dish?