Full After One Bite: My Meal in Puerto Rico

Thanks to a combination of an inaugural JetBlue flight last year and a small amount of United award miles that wasn’t going to be added to anytime soon, in booking a brief trip to Caracas and Quito earlier this year I had to be creative with my routing.

Considering the demographics of New York City, I figured that there would be plenty of JetBlue flights to Puerto Rico.  Due to the lack of availability of United partner flights – yes, planning a trip the day of has its cons – and limited time, I scheduled a thirteen hour layover in San Juan.

It was too early to find any local eats in downtown San Juan, so after wandering around for a few hours I indulged in another hobby, checking out the public transit systems.  Being disappointed that San Juan’s fare card was similar to NYC’s, I nevertheless took advantage of the free bus-rail transfer to spontaneously visit a suburb called Bayamón.  The goal – to find a menu without any English – was much easier over there…

Bayamón, Puerto Rico - Pernil, Mofongo and Pique

What’s that healthy stuff doing on the plate? I wanted Puerto Rican food.

I stumbled into a dive bar that also happened to have a decent amount of Puerto Rican staples from which to choose.  Come to think of it, before this meal, I had never tried this cuisine.
So, let’s break down the picture.  The ochre (yellow-orange) monolith next to the lettuce is called mofongo.  That’s the inspiration for the title of this post.  I’ve had that before, but in a Dominican restaurant.  From that one meal, I was full for many, many hours.

Usually it’s just a few, few minutes.

Mofongo generally consists of fried mashed green plantains, garlic, broth, and pork cracklins’, aka chicharrones.   It was likely inspired by fufu, the cassava-based meal from West Africa.

Below the mofongo we have pernil.  Pernil is roasted pork shoulder with garlic.  If the meat comes right off of the bone, then it was a success.  Sure enough, the chef that day got it right.

Lastly, the condiment on the left is called pique.  It’s a sauce made with hot peppers (traditionally, ají caballero, but habaneros and others are alright substitutes), garlic, oregano, and vinegar.  The contents aren’t mixed, but I could still taste each of those four main ingredients.  By the time I left the bar, the bottle of pique was almost empty.  Clearly, I should be making my way to East Harlem to buy a vat of it.

By the way, Puerto Rico, my liver shares your appreciation for garlic, but she does not.

How does this meal sound to you?

This entry was posted in Food & Drink, New York City, North America (non-NYC) and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Full After One Bite: My Meal in Puerto Rico

  1. Pingback: My First Meal in Russia « buildingmybento


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