USVI Arroz con Pollo Festival: Event celebrates a single dish with pan-Caribbean recipes

Arroz con pollo, the common Hispanic dish was in high demand Saturday as residents and visitors turned out by the hundreds to celebrate Virgin Islands Puerto Rico Friendship on Queen Cross Street in Christiansted, Christian Simescu reports in the Virgin Islands Daily News.

Arroz con pollo, better known to non-Spanish speakers as chicken with rice, was served at the V.I./Puerto Rico Arroz Con Pollo Festival in the traditional ways from nine different Caribbean islands and South and Central American nations.

Astrid England, the president of the V.I./Puerto Rico Committee, said everyone in the festival prepared the dishes with different seasonings and trimming from their native islands or countries.

“In Puerto Rico, for instance, we prepare it with and without beer,” England said. “We serve it with plantains and a salad.”

Saul Hernandez said that in the Virgin Islands that the dish is prepared by cooking the chicken with rendered down pork blocks and adding sweet peas and roasted red bell peppers on top. The rice is then also topped with beans.

Elizabeth Melendez, a native of Mexico, said Mexicans prepare arroz con pollo with mole, a paste made with chocolate and chiles.

In Guatemala, Jeannette Guzman said they prepare the dish with celery, red peppers, green peppers and garnish it with boiled eggs, parsley and freshly ground parmesan cheese.

Adriana Veliz said Venezuelans prepare arroz con pollo by marinating the chicken in a saffron seasoning overnight. The chicken is then fried, rice is added and cooked for an additional 15 minutes before adding water and cooking the mixture slowly. She said olives are then added to the dish, which is served with potato salad and a cornmeal mixture.

In the Dominican Republic, Giret Mercedes said the dish is prepared in oil, salt, onion and garlic seasonings. She said it is then served with salad and beans.

Federico Brown said in Panama, arroz con pollo is cooked by adding beans, sage, thyme, onion powder and garlic powder to the rice. It is then served with salad, cole slaw and fried plantains.

Cubans cook the dish with cumin, lime, bay leaves in a dry wine and beer, Rivert Diaz said. He also said it is served with fried casava and a cabage salad.

England said the event was well promoted and well attended. She said all proceeds from the festival benefit the Hispanic collection at the Florence Williams Public Library.

On Sunday, Maria Encarnacion captured the Miss Virgin Islands/Puerto Rico Friendship 2011 crown during a queen show at the John H. Woodson Junior High School. Lalysha Perinon was the first runner-up in the show and Shanice Boyce was most photogenic.

Other events include:

– La Noche de Bohemia and karaoke will take place at 7 p.m. Friday at the Armapavie Sports Center.

– A family fun day will take place Sunday at the Estate Whim Plantantion Museum from noon to 5 p.m.

The V.I./Puerto Rico Friendship Village, which is named this year in honor of former Gov. Juan F. Luis, will open Oct. 7 and close Oct. 8 at the Agriculture Fairgrounds in Estate Lower Love.

Sabor Latino and Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights are scheduled to perform on Friday following the grand opening, and on Saturday the Orquestra Puerto Rican Power, of Puerto Rico, is slated to perform
For the original report go to

Image: Basquiat’s Arroz con pollo.

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