Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Puerto Rico - La Isla del Encanto: Food!

Continuing from my last post on some of the beautiful places I saw while on my trip to Puerto Rico, I want to dedicate this post to describe some of the yummy food I ate there.

As one who studies nutrition and really enjoys food, I was excitedly anticipating what the food in Puerto Rico would be like. It was the first tropical island I had ever visited so I didn't know what to expect. 

My First Puerto Rican Meal

My first exposure to Puerto Rican food was my first night there in the home of a couple who had some believers who lived in the same neighborhood over for dinner and fellowship once a week. This home meeting was where I had my first Puerto Rican meal which consisted of...

tostones --> which is basically mashed fried plantains. They were delicious alone or with a mayo-ketchup sauce on top.

rice and beans --> which is a staple dish in the Puerto Rican diet. It was usually cooked with some type of meat and was very flavorful. I had this dish a number of times during my trip, and every time it was a little different, but always delicious. 

salad --> the typical components of their salads included iceberg or romaine lettuce and tomato. They were always very simple yet still refreshing.


sauteed fish with purple onion --> this was probably one of the best fish I have ever had, yet the hostess who made it claimed it was just something she whipped up by frying a frozen fillet in oil with purple onion and only flavoring it with salt and pepper. There must be something special in the water there that makes the fish taste so good!

This savory meal was just the beginning to a trip full of delicious food. Some of my favorite foods that I had while in Puerto Rico included some of their breakfast foods.

My kind of breakfast

Another student and I stayed with a newly wed couple for most of our time there, and when the hostess was asking us what kinds of foods we usually eat for breakfast, one of the foods we mentioned was oatmeal. Upon hearing our response, the husband commented that his wife made really good oatmeal and even joked that her oatmeal was responsible for him gaining 10 pounds. 

 Initially we were confused. To me, oatmeal was a hearty yet healthy breakfast choice. So I couldn't understand why it made him gain 10 pounds. But the next morning, when we tasted it for ourselves, it made a lot more sense. 

This oatmeal was unlike any oatmeal I had ever tasted before. It was served with cinnamon and we added raisins on top. It was rich and sweet and oh so delicious. We learned that she made oatmeal and other creamy grain breakfast cereals (such as cream of wheat and cream of corn) with evaporated milk. This made these hot breakfast cereals some of the most rich breakfasts I've ever had. 

Mofongo by the beach

One afternoon the family we stayed with took us to a city near the northern coast, Arecibo. The hostess grew up in this city so she knew of a cave called La Cueva Ventana (meaning Window Cave). It's name comes from the appearance of looking out of a window at one of its opening. The view was beautiful! 


After visiting the cave, we had dinner at a food trailer by the beach. I had Mofongo con camerones and a piña colada. This was one of my favorite meals there. Mofongo is a very popular dish in Puerto Rico. It is made by forming fried mashed plantains to the shape of the bowl its served in and filling it with various meats and sauces. 

The one I had was filled with shrimp and a red gumbo type of sauce with onion. It can either be eaten right from the bowl or flipped upside down on a plate. The piña colada was just the refreshing icy drink needed for that hot humid evening.

Café con leche

Another unique food experience I had while in Puerto Rico was seeing the difference in how they serve their coffee. In the United States its common for people to drink coffee black or with a little milk and sugar. However, in Puerto Rico, they refer to their coffee as "café con leche," meaning coffee with milk. 
The normal ratio of coffee to milk is 1:1, meaning half coffee and half milk. This is due to the greater strength and boldness of their coffee in comparison to American coffee. When offered coffee at one of the homes I visited, the options she gave were "black" or "white." That is because with the amount of milk that is typically added, the coffee appears almost white.

A sweet finish

Its only fitting to end my post on food in Puerto Rico with my favorite sweet treat I had during my trip. Though I had many kinds of desserts there, I would have to say that my favorite was a frozen dessert called limber de coco. 

It is best described as a coconut milk flavored frozen popsicle that came in a plastic cup. As one who had never seen a limber before, I wasn't exactly sure of how to eat it. So I just squeezed it up out of the cup a little at a time and ate it like a ice cream cone. However, after observing others and looking it up online afterwards, you supposedly can flip it over so that its easier to eat. 

 Either way, it was delicious. It was sweet and creamy and perfect in the Puerto Rican heat. One of my traveling buddies even made it once she got home using a Puerto Rican cook book she purchased on the trip. So not only was this frozen treat delicious, its also simple and easy to make at home! I will definitely be trying a recipe soon :)

By the length of this post, you can tell that the food I ate while in Puerto Rico was definitely one of the highlights of my trip. However, the best part of my trip is yet to come! Keep an eye out for my final post on my trip about my favorite part, the people I met and spent time with during my time in Puerto Rico! 

See you soon!

[photo credit: Google images]


  1. Danielle, your post makes me so hungry! Everything looks so delicious. Do you think you can re-create them and invite me over? ;D

    1. I wish! We need to get with Rachel (my traveling buddy with the Puerto Rican cook book) and attempt to make a Puerto Rican meal together! :)

    2. I love your descriptions. The pictures were helpful. I might try some of those dishes at our Christians on Campus community dinners. I think the students would love it.

    3. Yes! I believe that anyone would love these dishes! :)

  2. How come i didnt try most of those. What did i do in PR.... omg