I found a new community recently that I wanted to participate in – it’s called Eat The World. Over at Eat The World, each month, recipes are cooked from a country from somewhere on this planet. I’m crunching Eat The World together with my own reading challenges so I can participate. This month, the folks at Eat The World explored Puerto Rican cuisine.
I read The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico by Sarah McCoy for my part in this challenge. Rated 3.32 stars on goodreads, I gave it 5 stars. Sarah McCoy is also the author of The Baker’s Daughter. A gifted historical fiction writer, McCoy, in this novel, tells the story of Verdita in a coming-of-age tale. Set against the backdrop of Puerto Rico attempting to gain statehood in the ’60s, Verdita has big dreams of visiting the American mainland. She struggles with many of the same things a young girl deals with when growing up: her relationship with her parents, her idea of her own moral compass, and her experiences with sexual desires.
Though not a food heavy novel, there were enough references to work with:
- Piraguas with passionfruit syrup
- Cafe con leche
- Sesame seed bars
- Asopao soup
- Mixta of arroz con pollo with olive oil and cilantro sofrito
- Pan de agua
- Dulces de ajonjoli, batata, coco-leche, and naranja
- Sweet-and-sour chicken thighs
- Butter sandwiches fried in pork grease
- Fried chicken
- Hamburguesas Americanas
- Besitos de coco macaroons
- Sopa de leche
- Tamarind piragua
- Big Boy (the restaurant)
- Rice and beans
- Creamy tembleque
- Pasteles and roasted pork
- Arroz con dulce and fried plaintains
- Passionfruit jelly
- Esbeche and pickled fish
- Sorullo de maiz
- Peanut butter
- Sweetened cornmeal
Some of this, I knew what it was. But the truth is, many I did not. I know arroz is rice. I did not know what arroz de dulce was before this. It’s essentially rice pudding. I was very satisfied with this book choice, because it really opened up a ton of possibilities of new recipes I could try. I decided that for this book, I would do something sweet. And given the book opens with piraguas and closes again with it, the choice seemed appropriate.
Piragua is a Puerto Rican shaved ice desert. It is what I think of as a snowcone. Piraguas are shaped into pyramid shapes and are covered in fruit-flavored syrups. In this book, Verdita describes the ice shavings like snow. The piraguas are in fact the snow in Puerto Rico this book title references.
This perfect summertime desert for a hot day, these mango versions brought the Puerto Rican island flavors into my desert home. I pulled out my handy and trusty and rarely tried to shape my shaved ice into little pyramids. But alas, that was trickier than I expected. And the desert heat began melting the ice whenever I touched it, so my pyramids didn’t make it standing up. But even without the pyramid shape of the ice, the treat was delicious and refreshing. I think Verdita would approve.
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
- Place the mango and water into a blender and blend until smooth.
- Combine the mango mixture with the sugar in a pot over medium heat. Simmer until the sugar has dissolved into the mango water.
- Allow to cool. Transfer into an airtight container and put in the fridge until all the way cooled.
- Shape shaved ice into a pyramid shape in a dish. Pour the syrup over the top.
Check out all the wonderful Puerto Rican dishes prepared by fellow Eat the World members and share with #eattheworld. Click here to find out how to join and have fun exploring a country a month in the kitchen with us!
April – Home Sweet Homestead: Chuletas Guisadas: Puerto Rican Stewed Pork Chops
Sue: Sofrito Rice
Sharanya Palanisshami: Marrallo
Pandemonium Noshery: Pernil – Puerto Rican Crispy Roast Pork
Simply Inspired Meals: Epcot Frozen Torched Cherry Colada
Culinary Adventures with Camilla: Empanadillas de Carne
Evelyne: Pastelon, a Puerto Rican Plantain Lasagna
Margaret at Kitchen Frau: Classic Pina Colada Recipe
Amy: Arroz con Tocino (Puerto Rican Rice with Bacon)
House of Nash Eats: Patacones or Tostones (Fried Green Plantains)
Elizabeth at Literature and Limes: Mango Piraguas
A Day in the Life on the Farm: Pinchos