Monday, June 30, 2008

Culinary ambitions

One of the crucial elements of Puerto Rican identity (not just for me) is food. Our cuisine is a mix of Taíno, Spanish and African. There are also dishes that emerged as a result of the canned food and dry goods from the PRRA era. In short, Puerto Rican food is a reflection of our history and we are very attached to it.

I don't usually make a lot of typical dishes. Yesterday I had the urge to make some typical stuff, so I went to the supermarket and bought meat and some root vegetables and green bananas, because I wanted to make alcapurrias, biftec encebollado and guineítos en escabeche. This is the first time I ever attempt to make alcapurrias. Gabe had never seen me prepare annato oil before and he was very curious, asking what was it and what exactly it was used for.

Grating green bananas and root vegetables can be time consuming, so I relied on my food processor to speed things up. I used half of the green bananas I bought for the alcapurrias, and boiled the other half for the escabeche. I browned some ground beef with sofrito and seasonings, to use as filling for the alcapurrias. After the alcapurrias were formed, I put them away in the refrigerator. I will fry them today, hoping they come out right.

For dinner last night we ate the biftec encebollado and the guineítos en escabeche. Gabe loved the cube steak with onions, as he has before. But he had a harder time with the guineítos. He had eaten a lot of bread prior to the main dish, so he claimed he was too full to eat them, but I think he just did not like them much. It made me a little sad, although it is not his fault really. I can't force him to like something, and he did not grow up eating that, so he does not have the emotional tie to the dish that I have. But at times like this, I really wish I had my family nearby, so I do not feel so lonely.


  1. Wao! Te felicito! Yo nunca he intentado hacer una alcapurria porque me parece muy difícil, así que espero que te queden sabrosas. Por tu esposo, no te sientas mal, el mío es extranjero también y no hay quien lo haga comer panas con bacalao, alcapurrias o bacalaítos. Es su paladar, qué se le va a hacer.

    Un saludo caluroso,


  2. Missing your family is really hard. It's the little things we share with them - such as a love of a particular dish - that we miss the most. I would love to hear about more of your traditional dishes, they sound fantastic!

  3. Enid, luego te cuento cómo quedaron las alcapurrias. Gabo las probó una vez en PR y le gustaron. Lo que sí no le gustan son los pasteles. A mí, por mi parte, me fascinan.

    Selma, there is something else I may attempt this week, with yucca root. If I do, I will post about it.

  4. Wow. I can see myself getting used to Puerto Rican cuisine VERY easily. I have a deep affinity for "well-seasoned dishes!"

    Husband and I are from two different cultures too, so I can relate to the temptation of taking his food preferences personally. ;)

  5. Yummy! I have never made those things but every time I'm in the Bronx, i always make a point to go to the cuchifritos to get some of those yummy snacks.. I love it. I did make guineos escabeche before and it tastes so good. My mother in law's recipe.

  6. Well, the alcapurrias came out good. Gabe ate them, but he wished there was more meat and less batter. I, on the other hand, felt just like I was in Puerto Rico eating from one of those food stands in Luquillo or Piñones.

    It ended up being easier than I thought it was going to be, so now I feel brave enough to attempt other things someday, like empanadas de yuca or pasteles.

  7. Pasteles is the mother load! LOL.. You should post the recipe and pics when you make those... I'll be waiting! =)

  8. Damn! I wish I lived closer, I'd be banging on your door with an empty bowl and flashing my "puppy dog" eyes, asking for some of your scrumptious cooking. I lurve food of any kind... I love trying new things, new tastes, new experiences. I spent some time in South America a few years ago and fell in love with the food there (apart from some of the grubs I had to eat when in the Amazon!).

    Coincidentally, my latest photography challenge is "Food"... I look forward to seeing some of your culinary results :)

    Have a lovely week ~ G

  9. Vaya! Leerte me dió hambre. Y eso que estoy en PR. Pero ya sabes, si como asi todos los dias ruedo como salchicha.

    Te felicito en hacer las alcapurrias from scratch. Con aceite de achiote y todo! Yo rapido le hubiese tirao un sobresito de sazón con la vagancia. ;)

    Y los guineitos que no se coma el hubby, mandalos pa'aca que yo sé muy bien que hacer con ellos. Saludos y te leo luego!!