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?

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About buildingmybento

Bread, olive oil Waking up in Nakagin Sure does sound like me
This entry was posted in Food & Drink, New York City, North America (non-NYC) and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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

  1. Pingback: My First Meal in Russia « buildingmybento

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