Puerto Rican cuisine may share some similarities with Cuban and Spanish cooking, but it still carries a great deal of flavor from other cultures as well. A lot of Puerto Rican cooking blends African, Taino, and even some American flavors to get its own unique taste. Some common ingredients typically found in Puerto Rican food are, papaya, cacao, nispero, plaitains, and yampee.
Referred to by the locals as cocina criolla, or Créole cooking, this cooking style goes back to the Arawaks and Tainos who originally inhabited the Islands. The culture relied on tropical fruit, corn, and seafood as part of their regular diet. After Ponce de León arrived with Christopher Columbus in 1943, beef, pork, rice, wheat and olive oil were added to the island’s inventory. In addition to importing slaves from Africa, they also brought okra and taro over and began planting sugarcane. Ultimately all of the different flavors and ingredients passed down the line of generations and the mingling of different ethnic groups resulted in the unique blend that Puerto Rican cuisine is known for.
Popular Dishes to Try In Puerto Rico
Asopao is one of the most traditional dishes in Puerto Rico. It can be considered as a soup, a gumbo, and a stew all at once. Asopao can contain rice, chicken, pork, beef, seafood, and vegetables in any combination along with the wonderful seasonings and flavors that make Puerto Rican food so tasty. It is an incredibly hearty and filling dish that is served at most restaurants in Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico is also filled with many tasty fried snacks. The amount of fritters that you will find will easily make your mouth water. Some popular ones are cuchifritos, alcapurrias, frituras, and almojábanas. The best thing about these treats is that they are very affordable and can be eaten in good quantities. So if you are a traveler on a budget, these fried snacks are for you.
Another popular dish to send your taste buds for a ride is Arroz con Gandules. This is sometimes referred to as the Puerto Rican’s national dish. It takes rice, pigeon peas, pork, chorizo (a Spanish sausage), red peppers, and olives and seasons them with a unique sauce made from sofrito. The finished dish becomes like a Spanish paella and ends up tasting amazing.
Wherever you travel, you should always make it a priority to sample all of the local cuisine. However, if you are traveling to Puerto Rico you simply cannot leave without experiencing the food that makes the culture so well known throughout the world.