One of the best ways to explore a new place is by sampling local cuisine.
In Puerto Rico, food is an amalgamation of cultures—the influence of native Taino Indians, Spanish and African settlers all adding up to making Puerto Rican cuisine a distinctive feast of flavors.
If you are headed to this Caribbean gem, here are five definitely must-try culinary delights.
1. Mofongo. Mofongo is a fried plantain-based dish made with a concoction of broth, garlic, olive oil, pork cracklings (or bacon bits). It can also be made with vegetarian fillings, shrimp, steak or seafood. It is the unofficial king of Comida Criolla and every self-respecting Puerto Rican restaurant has their own version of the recipe.
2. Arroz con gandules. This traditional dish is a combination of rice, pigeon peas and pork, and is a signature item in Puerto Rican cuisine. It is served mainly during holidays and special occasions. Arroz con gandules is cooked in the same pot as the sofrito or the sauce base. The sofrito is the most important part of seasoning the rice and is typically prepared a day before.
3. Pasteles. Another standard holiday season dish is pasteles or pies. Unlike dessert pastry, pasteles is made with chopped meat, shellfish, chicken, raisins, spices, capers, olives, sofrito and often, garbanzo beans. It is then wrapped in banana or plantain leaf and boiled.
4. Asopao. Asopao is a homemade classic. It is a savory soup normally made with chicken and rice. Like the mofongo, it can be made with several varieties including chicken, shellfish, pork, ham, pigeon peas, olives, tomatoes and other ingredients.
5. Ajonjoli. This traditional beverage is water boiled with sugar, vanilla and cinnamon sticks. Water is poured over ground sesame seeds and left over night. Water is then squeezed through a cheese cloth, afterwards, evaporated milk or fresh milk is added. Sometimes ground rice, ground almonds, coconut milk, allspice, rum, barley and lime zest are also added especially when it is prepared at home.
Another guaranteed way to enjoy a trip to Puerto Rico is to learn to speak the Hispanic language.
Learning Spanish is an investment that comes in handy especially when travelling to more than 20 countries around the world which consider Spanish as its official, national or de facto language. In the US alone, almost three million people speak Spanish and these are just the non-Hispanics.
In San Diego and Orange counties, The Spanish Group is one of the fastest growing Spanish learning centers which utilize a non-traditional and custom method of teaching the language. The group is known to focus on the learner’s unique pace, preferred learning style and level of acquisition.
The Spanish Group offers language classes for all levels, whether one-on-one or in a group, as well asprofessional translation services and interpreting services.
The group’s professional translation services focus on Spanish to English and vice versa to ensure that a high level of quality is maintained. There is no minimum word count or fee, and revisions are packaged into the price with an optional notarization service. The Spanish Group also employs field specialized translators to handle various types of documents, be it technical, marketing, legal or medical.
For learners who wish to learn Spanish for more short-term goals such as travelling, the group also conducts tailor-fit classes.
To find out more about professional translation services and other Spanish language offerings, call (800) 460-1536 or visit http://www.thespanishgroup.org.