The local fruits and vegatables in Puerto Rico are varied. Going to the local market you will probably find what we call "vianda" this is a group of vegatables like "malanga" "yuca" "guineos", "yautia" "yame" "pana". These vegatables can be used in a soup called "Sancocho" or are boiled and eaten with "bacalao".
Some of the fruits will include "cenepas", "chinas" "tamarindo" "guayabas" "mango" and of course "coco".
The market will probably have fresh "gandules" and "oja de guineos" for making "pasteles".
I usually pick up some fresh gandules and the vianda and guayabas if they are in season...they are my favorite fruit!!
Every municipality of Puerto Rico has a "Fiesta Patronal" This is the feast of the Patron Saint of this town. The feast is usually located around the "plaza" where the main church and city hall are located and its is a great way to go out and enjoy the live music and dancing, eating and drinking and just having a good time.
Depending on how large the town is, there will be rides for the children, games, and many diversions.
The feast usually starts on a Saturday and will continue until the following Sunday.
The sport of pitting game-cocks to fight and the breeding and training of them for that purpose has been a long and establish Puerto Rican sport/pasttime.
Cockfighting pits are circular with a matted stage about 20 feet (6 meters) in diameter and surrounded by a barrier to keep the birds from falling off. The main matches usually consist of fights between an agreed number of birds. Cocks usually are put to the main when between one and two years of age. Before a fight, spurs of metal or bone are slipped over the natural spurs of the game-cocks. The modern short sput is 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) or less in length; the longer spur scales from 2 to 2 1/2 inches (5 to 6 cm). In ancient times, cocks were permitted to fight until one or the other was killed. Later, although some fights still are to an absolute finish, rules have sometimes permitted the withdrawal at any time of a badly damaged cock. Other rules fix a time limit for each fight. At all mains, the judges word is absolute law, even as to gambling. There is no appeal from his decisions.
You will find stands as large as this one or small carts all over Puerto Rico, whether on the roadside or in town selling the delicious "piragua" (shaved ice). There is a variety of local flavors including "tamarindo" "guava" "coco" "lechosa" "limon" and of course the usual flavors, of orange, cherry, strawberry, watermelon, etc.
These little brown tree frogs are the symbol of Puerto Rico. They are everywhere and nowhere all at once. Almost impossible to spot (one brochure said they were only slightly easier to find then a leprechuan!) they are also impossible to ignore. Their song "Ko-Kee Ko-Kee" can be heard all throughout the night. After a rainfall the coqui song becomes even more animated. I suppose it's amphibian party time:)
Lucky for me, the owner of the villa we stayed in has a knack of finding these little guys. When I mentioned I really wanted to see one, he offered to seek some out for me. Pictured are the two different types of Coqui he found that morning. Apparently they have 10 of the 17 types right on the villa property.
I noticed here as in other parts of the Caribbean that one of the preferred cooking methods is deep frying. If you are on a diet or looking for more healthful options I recommend going to the local market and picking up freshly caught fish and shrimp and preparing it in a more healthy manner. Oh, but do at least try tostones rellenos con pollo...deep fried plaintains with chicken. This is a surprisingly delightful dish!!!
Puerto Rico is a Commonwealth of the US, so English is its official language, but Spanish has also been declared an official language in recent years due to the rise of progressive nationalism, and it happens to be widely spoken. I have traveled all over the island of PR, and have observed that in most parts people speak English, but as you travel farther away from the cities (e.g., San Juan, Ponce, etc.), Spanish is mostly preferred and used in everyday communication.
As Puerto Ricans are quite gracious, they'll try to be patient with you, but will not guarantee that they'll cater to your English-speaking ways all of the time. It has to be a two-way street. Show that you're trying to learn Spanish as much as you can because that sure will guarantee more respect and acceptance.
Good Luck & Enjoy Beautiful Puerto Rico!
I was pleased to see these little guys in such abundance in Puerto Rico. They really are just everywhere, at the villa, in the rainforest, even in the resturant where we had lunch in San Juan! They are fun to watch as they scurry about, warm themselves in the sun, do their "pushups" and blow up their orange necks. One thing that was not so much fun to watch was when one of the cats at the villa chased one down and ate it, only later to regurgitate the poor little guy. Ew.
Often I find myself terribly thirsty and in need of a frosty beverage while driving someplace. I always wish that I could instantly have a cold bottle of water. The Puerto Ricans can make that wish come true! While stopped at a traffic light you will notice from time to time that a man will appear walking down the road, water and other assorted drinks in hand. For one measly dollar one could be yours, and wishes can come true.
(this also happens with newspapers, but hey when I'm on vacation i don't usually want one of those. Good for those on the way to work or something I spose.)
2 cups white chunk chicken
4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 packet of Sazón Goya
1 cube chicken bouillon
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons margarine
8 cocktail sausage links (get the Lil' Smokies) optional
2 cups rice
Put all ingredients except rice in pot of water. Bring to a boil. Add rice. Cook on low for 20 minutes.
One thing about Puerto Rico I thought was kind of cool is that you will catch members of the opposite sex looking at you fairly frequently, and often with a smile. Although this can happen anywhere, what I found charming and fresh about it was that there wasn't the furtive looking away like someone has been caught doing something wrong, or fear that it could be misinterpreted as an invitation. Puerto Rico's more open and relaxed atmosphere makes it more acceptable to enjoy a moment of genuine admiration and curiosity. They don't leer, and they don't stare, nothing in the slightest rude about it, more like generally soaking up the scenery, and it can happen anywhere, not just at the beach. While you wait at red lights, while you shop for milk, while you eat your dinner... I never adopted the custom, but if I lived on the island I think I would!
The Carnaval is in Ponce, a city in Puerto Rico. The Carnaval is like the Rio de Janeiro carnaval. I have not attended one in Puerto Rico because I was there last June. The carnaval is held during the lent season, the carnaval being with religious beliefs (Catholicism). This Carnaval has Catholicism history and the people dress up in costumes. They whack and target the "innocents" or kids to get rid of bad spirits. Also, they target beautiful women...
Puerto Rico has some fantastic coffee. I have tried 4 different kinds and loved them all. We had the Cafe Coqui, the Cafe Yaucono, Cafe Rico (of course) and Offecay (sounds like piglatin no?) I got so addicted to their coffee I hunted down a site that exports coffees to the US, now it's part of my every morning routine.
The aroma that wafts from kitchens throughout Puerto Rico comes from adobo and sofrito -blends of herbs and spices that give many of the native foods their distinctive taste and color. Adobo, made by crushing together peppercorns, oregano, garlic, salt, olive oil, and lime juice or vinegar, is rubbed into meats before they are roasted. Sofrito, a potpourri of onions, garlic, coriander, and peppers browned in either olive oil or land and colored with achiote (annatoo seeds), imparts the bright-yellow color to the island's rice, soups, and stews.
Stews loom large in the Puerto Rican diet. They are usually cooked in a caldero or heavy kettle. A popular one is carne guisada puertorriqueña; (Puerto Rican beef stew). The ingredients that flavor the chunks of beef vary according to the cook's whims or whatever happens to be in the larder. These might include green peppers, sweet chile peppers, onions, garlic, cilantro, potatoes, olives stuffed with pimientos, or capers. Seeded raisins may be added on occasion
Rum is the national drink, and you can buy it in almost any shade. Puerto Rico is the world's leading rum producer; 80% of the rum consumed in the United States hails from the island.
Today's rum bears little resemblance to the raw and grainy beverage consumed by the renegades and pirates of the Spanish Main. Christopher Columbus brought sugarcane, from which rum is distilled, to the Caribbean on his second voyage to the New World, and in virtually no time it became the regional drink.
The color of rum is usually gold, amber, or white. The lightest, driest rum is white. It can easily replace gin or vodka in dozens of mixed drinks that are eminently suited for consumption in the tropics. Many Puerto Ricans make Bloody Marys with rum instead of gin or vodka. The robust flavors of the gold or amber rums make them an effective substitute for whiskey. Whit white (clear) rum, orange juice and tonic water are the most popular mixers; amber rum is often served on the rocks. Puerto Ricans are fond of mixing it with various cola drinks. Gold rums, aged between four and six years (sometimes longer) in wooden casks are called ánejos. They are considered the most flavorful and distinctive on the island rums. They are smooth; drink them straight or on the rocks.
Bacardi is the Puerto Rican rum most widely consumed in the United States. It is followed by other popular brands, including, Ronrico, Castillo, and Don Q. The ánejos rums carry such labels as Bacardi Gold Reserve, Ron del Barrilito, and Seralles' El Dorado.
Your best introduction to Puerto Rican rum making is to visit the Bacardi distillery in Cataño, just a short ferry-boat ride across the San Juan harbor.