In the world, there are few things that unites us in the way that food does. The tradition of sharing and consuming food has been around since the beginning of time and with it a variety of diverse yet delicious types of cuisine have developed. Take the United States for example, the United States is already a melting pot of individuals with different backgrounds but even the states have their own signature dishes as well. For example, the infamous Philly cheese steak, New York’s pizza, and Maryland’s crabs. No matter where you go, food is vital part of everyday living. Even when you look outside mainland America, Puerto Rico for example, this idea still rings true.

History of Puerto Rican Food

Puerto Rico was colonized in 1493 by the Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus. The name Puerto Rico, which translates into “Rich Port”, was given to the area because of the gold found in one of its rivers. Soon because of its rich land and resources, Puerto Rico became a top exporter of goods such as cattle, sugar cane, coffee,and tobacco which led to the an increased need for workers. This led to the importation of slaves from Africa. As a result, Puerto Rico became a mixing pot of different ethnic backgrounds such as the indigenous Taino, Carribean, African, and Spanish people which ultimately led to a diverse cuisine to form.

Puerto Rican Food

Puerto Rican food is known for it’s bold flavors and savory dishes. It’s often noted as being flavorful, salty, meaty, and crunch. Some of the staple ingredients used in a majority of it’s dishes are plantains, adobo, sofritas, beef, pork, and rice. Common Puerto Rican dishes include bacalaítos (codfish fritters), Empandillas (meat/fish turnovers), Tostones, soup, and Flan. The national drink of Puerto Rico is rum and they account for 2/3 of rum purchases in the US. The sharing of food is very big in Puerto Rican culture and when it comes to the holidays the more food the better. Big holidays such as Christmas, New Year’s eve, and Three king’s day call for bigger dishes. One common dish that you’ll see is called lechon asado which is a barbecued pig. However, this is not your typical barbecue, lechon asado is often prepared outside on a spit over multiple hours for full flavor.

As a testimony to the power of food and its contribution to Puerto Rican culture we have a video interview with three Puerto Rican students here at SJU (Mariana Ruiz, Valentina Cacciamani, and Laura Fuentes) that discuss the history of Puerto Rican food and what it means to them.

In conclusion, the amount of warmth and joy food brings to people is priceless. Food not only builds community but it also plays a big part in the culture of an area. As our gift to you we’ve included the family recipe to a delicious dessert from one of our students here at SJU.

“Dad’s favorite dessert”- Laura fUENTES

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup of bisquick
  • 1 egg
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 cup of dates
  • 1 cup of nuts
  • *optional*-powdered sugar on top

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter and put into bowl.
  2. Crack egg and pour it’s contents in bowl.
  3. Add milk.
  4. Mix all together.
  5. Gradually add bisquick while continuing to mix.
  6. Pour dates and nuts into the mix.
  7. Roll mix into a dough.
  8. Oil baking dish, then layer dough into the dish. Make sure it’s an even layer.
  9. Put into oven for 15-20 minutes, longer for a firmer crust.
  10. Take out and let settle for 10 minutes.
  11. Section into bar size pieces and add confectioner’s sugar on top.
  12. Enjoy 🙂 !

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