Food

Cocina Criolla

Literally translating as "Creole cooking," it is the name that is used when referring to traditional Puerto Rican food. Just like the music of Puerto Rico, the food is also an evolution of different influences that reached the island. The food staples such as yuca, peppers and corn were used by the Taínos long before any European step foot on the island. Also adopted from the Taínos is an important piece of kitchen hardware, the pilon, which is a piece of wood formed into a deep bowl with a base, that is used to mash ingredients together.

The Spanish culinary tradition also plays a huge role in the food of Puerto Rico. Some of the ingredients the Spanish introduced that are considered synonymous with Puerto Rican cooking are: garlic, cilantro, olive oil, and rice. African slaves also made a significant contribution with the wide use of plantains and they are responsible for introducing frying as a cooking method.

Dishes

While there are many traditional dishes on the island, I will only touch on a few that are the most popular.

Mofongo

This dish can be seen all over the island. It consists of fried plaintains which are mashed in a pilon with garlic, olive oil and chicarrones, which is pork skin. It can be served as a side accompanied by chicken broth but it is often seen as an entree in which a pilon is lined with the mofongo and it is stuffed with either seafood or meat that has been stewed in a tomato based sauce. This dish is called mofongo relleno, "stuffed mofongo". This recipe is definately worth trying.

mofongo served in a pilon - from flickr.com - author: El Confeti

from flickr.com by El Confeti

Asopao

On an island where soup and rice are both very popular, the two meet for this dish. A gumbo-like dish, it is most often made with seafood or chicken. Although there are many different recipes, the main ingredients include: oregano, garlic, peppers, onion, cilantro, olives and tomato. Here is a recipe to give a better idea of what Asopao is.