|Our morning view from Hotel Milano, in Old San Juan|
Mofongo is something of the national dish in Puerto Rico, and there are dozens of variations on the basic theme, which is fried green plantains that are mashed with garlic and (typically) pork fat and/or cracklings. It was the first thing I ordered when we arrived, and this introductory dish was the best I had during the trip–maybe because it was first? Possibly. This one was topped with shrimp and a sauce criolla.
We sampled at least a half dozen different mofongos, including versions made with yuca and cassava, some with sauce, some filled…mofongo is a beautiful, variable thing. I am pretty sure that the two pounds I gained were due to the excessive consumption of mofongo (and, possibly, rum–more on that in another post). Puerto Rican street food is not what you would call light fare. For lunch one day we stopped at a row of roadside “kiosks,” each displaying a wide variety of deep fried foods, arepas, whole fried fish, sausages…
|Morcilla, a spicy blood sausage|
|Fresh oyster kiosk–there were water birds patrolling this one|
We ordered a few things to share, and found them to be greasy but tasty. The seafood rice had shrimp, a mild spice, and bits of chewy conch:
The pastele was our least favorite, as it was both bland and greasy. I have had much better versions (but this one was cheap!). The little rectangle in the back is the pastele, which is made like a tamale with a plantain “masa” filled with savory fillings. We also sampled a plantain “pie” stuffed with ground beef that had a picadillo sweet-sour flavor, and it was tasty.
To work off some of the street food, we spent the better part of a day hiking around in El Yunque (lots of hills, so it burned off some of those plantains). There is no real way to do justice in photos, but here are a few to give you a glimpse. To get a more realistic and visceral experience, view these in a very hot room, while misting yourself constantly with warm water. It was hot, it was humid, it was as if we were in a rain forest or something.
|Gingers, bird of paradise, and hibiscus growing wild, often in large swaths|
|I have kind of a thing for snails, and these guys were everywhere–huge|
|Beautiful, in an alien kind of way|
|Just a gorgeous, tropical waterfall|
|The consistently-slippery trail|
That’s about all I can cram into this post, but I will be regaling you with picture of rum drinks and architecture in my next post. Hey, I didn’t take all of those pictures for nothing…
Thanks for reading,