In my last post, A Preview of Puerto Rico, I left out all of the delectable details regarding the Puerto Rican cuisine we sampled while we were on the island. It wasn't because I forgot, it was because I thought the food deserved a post all its own! We tried so many wonderful things that I am very excited to finally tell you all about.
This fluffy, sweet pastry that's buttered, grilled and sprinkled with powdered sugar is not your typical breakfast sandwich. What sets this Spanish danish apart even further from a regular pastry is the fact that they come with a variety of fillings that you would order on a normal breakfast sandwich, such as ham, bacon, egg and/or cheese.
Seems sort of weird to mix ham and cheese with powdered sugar, right?! It did to me, but I was willing to try it! I ordered my first Mallorca with jamon, huevos, and queso - all the way. The bread was light, airy and had a hint of sweetness to it. And I found the mesh of salty and sweet to be highly unusual, but oh so yummy!
An important part of the Puerto Rican diet is the plethora of fried fritter-like finger foods that are easily found all over the island. Our most favorite item that we tried multiple times from several different places were the Alcapurria's. Alcapurria's are plantain croquettes stuffed with beef, pork or crab; they were super tasty.
At one point while we were walking around the city, I spotted a guy eating a gigantic elephant ear-like disc (but flat) and was intrigued, he laughed as I stared intently with my mouth wide open, perplexed yet wondering how I was going to get my hands on one! Come to find out, it was a deep-fried codfish fritter called a Bacalaito, they are typically served as an appetizer for lunch or dinner. The various vendors that we purchased these street snacks from were very affordable; I think we got away with spending less than $5 each visit! You can't beat lunch for two at that price!
This quintessential Puerto Rican dish is a favorite of many and consists of mashed green plantains mixed with garlic and other flavorings before being fried in a pan. When served plain it is merely a side dish, but if you take advantage of the stuffing options available, this is the way to go for a main-course meal. We ordered our signature Puerto Rican entree stuffed with fresh mahi mahi and shrimp, it was devoured within minutes! Native Caribbean flavors were very evident in this mouthwatering meal. Traditionally, Mofongo is served in a pilon, which is much like a wooden goblet and makes for a rather interesting presentation.
Tropical fruits, amongst other things, often wind up at the table in the form of a tasty beverage. By accident, we tried a few different kinds that I think are worth noting. In particular, we happened upon a vendor selling “La China Dulce”. We were thirsty and feeling adventurous, and were stopped dead in our tracks by the stacked baskets filled to the brim with these yellow-green grapefruit-like orbs, so we investigated. It was quickly realized that they were oranges, but they weren't the color of any orange I'd ever seen before!
In Puerto Rico, naranjas or oranges are called Chinas. Since we weren't sure of how it would taste Cody and I shared a cup. It ended up being a deliciously sweet concoction that was far more flavorful than any orange juice I've ever had. Cody and I were fighting over sips as the heavenly nectar diminished. We nearly turned back around once it was gone to get another, but decided it was too far. After craving one the next day, and not being able to find the same vendor who must have picked up and moved elsewhere, we were kicking ourselves for not going back the day before.Another juice we tried was called Mavi. Mavi is a not made from a tropical fruit like La China Dulce, instead it is made from the bark of a mauby tree. Puerto Rico isn't the only place that this fermented formula is popular as it is a beverage consumed by many Caribbean islanders. While Cody very much appreciated this beverage, I found it hard to enjoy. It wasn't that it was too bitter, but the sweetness was a little too sickly sweet for me, an acquired taste I'm sure.
This definitely doesn't cover the extent of the delectable foods you don't want to miss when on the island of Puerto Rico, but I encourage anyone traveling that way to do some digging of their own to find flavors to look forward to. I had many other things on my list to try, but I could really only force myself to eat so much! :D