I just got done eating a VERY Puerto Rican meal of pasteles… and I got to thinking… these won’t be around forever. I usually get them from my grandmother in Puerto Rico, but she hasn’t made us any in quite some time because she’s getting older (and making them takes ALOT of work). My mom knows how to make them, but claims she never has the time, so we found a lady that makes them and we buy them from her. She also makes these DELICIOUS little things called alcapurrias. Before I go on…. I’ll show you the foreign things I’m talking about:
These are alcapurrias. Basically it’s a batter made of green bananas and taro root (yautia) or yucca root filled with either seasoned ground beef or seasoned ground pork. You fry them up, and they look like this. Even though when they first come out the fryer, they kind of look like oblong turds, they taste amazing. This is typical Puerto Rican Soul Food.
These are pasteles…. They’re almost the same concept of an alcapurria, having a batter made of green bananas, plantians, and yucca root and then stuffed with cooked pork shoulder. But instead of frying these, you boil them inside a banana leaf. So when you get done making them, you wrap them in a banana leaf, and then aluminum foil, and you boil them while they’re still wrapped. It’s kinda cute actually because when they get done cooking (usually about an hour to boil), it’s like unwrapping a little present! Again, they may not look appealing to most people, but they are another example of good ‘ol Puerto Rican Soul Food.
Ok- so back to my point.
I got to thinking…. I need to learn how to make these for my family someday, and hell, even my kids if I have them. I can’t let that part of my culture fade. Which, in reality, it probably wouldn’t because (1) I love cooking and learning new recipes and (2) I’d find someone to make them for me if I couldn’t… but I just realized how important food really is to one’s culture and keeping it alive.
Now, I’m not a sorry excuse for a Puerto Rican. I can still throw down in the kitchen with some other native food. The most popular being my pastelillos de carne (Beef Turnovers):
All my friends love these. I made them with sausage once and they were out of this world. Fattening…. but amazing :). I also know how to make some really good pink beans and white rice.
I think some of my next culinary adventures will take me back to my roots. I’m really wanting to attempt to make some alcapurrias for the holidays (that’s traditional holdiay food for us) and I would really LOVE to make some flan. I guess over the next month or so I’ll be exploring various recipes and I’ll try them out on Dalton (since he’s quite honest about my cooking). I’ll keep everyone updated. 🙂