Kitchen Chat and more…
Kitchen Chat and more…
Salsa music originated in Cuba but gained world wide popularity in the 1970’s. It became popular through a group of Puerto Rican musicians in New York who were playing afro-cuban music which developed into what is now known as salsa. Salsa is a dance music with its most defining characteristic being the use of a clave. Typically other Cuban instruments are used as well like bongos and congas. The use of these instruments is what gives Salsa its signature sound. Due to its origins Salsa is very tied to Latin American culture in both its main audience as well as its lyrical content.
History of Salsa Music in Puerto Rico
There is some dispute as to whether or not Salsa music originated in Cuba or Puerto Rico. Most of the world recognizes Cuba as the originator of salsa music, but Puerto Ricans tell a different story. According to some salsa can be traced to the 1930’s and 1940’s in Puerto Rico when mamba and son music was first brought there. Then in the 1960’s it was brought to New York through the mass migration of Puerto Ricans and given its final influences of big band music to become Salsa.
Whether or not Salsa was invented in Puerto Rico or New York, Puerto Ricans have still had a large impact on the development of Salsa music. Puerto Rico was instrumental in the creation of Salsa Romantica. This genre of Salsa music is characterized by the blending of different musical styles with Salsa. Typically, Salsa Romantica would start with a slower style of music like a rumba then build into a salsa, finishing with a mambo. Salsa Romantica is also known for having more romantic lyrics than previous the form of Salsa know as Salsa Caliente which focused on barrio life in its lyrical content. Salsa Romantica first began to gain popularity in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s and is still quite popular to this day.
Contemporary Puerto Rican Salsa
Salsa is still very popular to this day in Puerto Rico. In fact it is generally agreed upon that Puerto Rico has replaced New York as the capitol of Salsa music. Modern Puerto Rican music makes use of some indigenous instruments such as güiros which are made out of gourds and used as a rhythm accompaniment. Another modern development in Puerto Rican salsa is the use of a cow-bell along with the traditional clave to keep rhythm. Some of the more well known artists in the Puerto Rican Salsa scene today are Willie Colón, El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, and Hector Lavoe. They are also popular on an international scale as well. There are also numerous Salsa clubs in Puerto Rico where Salsa aficionados go to dance and enjoy top quality salsa music.
The future of Salsa
It is easy to see that Salsa shares a rich cultural and historical background and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It is a comfort to the older crowd of Salsa lover’s in Puerto Rico that the youth seem to have the same passion for Salsa as their parents did. It will be exciting to see what new innovations and changes this new generation of Salsa fans will bring to the genre.
Puerto Rican music is the most well-known Caribbean sound heard throughout the United States. Many people associate the unique beats and rhythms as part of the passionate Latin American dance numbers commonly seen in dance competitions and many dance clubs throughout America. Puerto Rican music is always a sure way to get you tapping your feet and moving your hips.
The Sounds of Puerto Rico
The music of Puerto Rico is closely associated with the African and Spanish traditions that inspired it. Four known Puerto Rican instruments were adapted from the Spanish six string guitar; the cuatro, the requinto, the bordonu, and the triple. They all produce their own unique pitch and sound. The cuatro is the most popular of these instruments and is revered as the national instrument of Puerto Rico. It is typically carved from solid blocks of laurel wood and is known for creating pitches that are different from the typical Spanish sounds.
The island is also known for its prevalence of percussion instruments. Tambours (hollowed tree trunks covered with stretched-out animal skin) and maracas (gourds filled with pebbles or dried beans and mounted on handles) are some of the most common percussion instruments heard in Puerto Rico and are known throughout the world. These are some of the variety of drums that were brought to Puerto Rico by African slaves. They widely contribute to the island’s unique folk music sound and really integrate the sounds of both Spanish and African music.
A Puerto Rican Dance to Move Your Feet
The most well-known dance that Puerto Rican’s have shared with the world is the salsa. Known as the rhythm of the islands, the name salsa literally means “the sauce that makes parties happen.” Unbeknownst to many, the salsa actually originates from the Puerto Rican community in New York. It draws inspiration from the musical roots of the Cuban and the African Caribbean experience.
Salsa has made Puerto Rican’s internationally famous in the music scene. The music for salsa requires a wide variety of percussion instruments that include the güiros, maracas, bongos, timbales, conga drums, and claves, and to add the jíbaro (hillbilly) touch, a clanging cow bell. Traditionally, it also takes a bass, a horn section, a chorus and, a lead vocalist to get the combination right.
Even though the Puerto Rican music can be experienced in many places around the world, any traveler who has the opportunity to hear the unique sounds of the best music in the Caribbean in its original environment is in for a truly special experience.
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.
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Old San Juan, Puerto Rico 00901
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