The Puerto Rican Christmas Dish Every American Should Be Eating, According to Chefs


“Our fellow citizens in the Caribbean know a thing or two about celebrating the holidays,” writes Adam Campbell-Schmitt (Food & Wine). This article is not for the faint-hearted (or for anyone missing the delights of Puerto Rican culinary specialties)! It gives an overview of Puerto Rico’s culinary charms and then goes on to explain in vivid detail, the wonders of pernil (roast pork), my favorite—pasteles, and Christmas drinks such as coquito. See the original article to read about these mouth-watering dishes (along with photos and links to recipes). [Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.]

Puerto Rico isn’t short on culinary charms all year round, from rum-soaked cocktails to dozens of ways to prepare plantains (I’m still thinking about a particular plate of tostones I had in Guayama six years ago). But Christmas is perhaps the most food-forward season when hungry travelers should consider visiting — and yes, it’s a whole season. Lasting from some point in November and often well into February, the Christmas celebration on the island keeps the party going for months of revelry and delicious holiday dishes. It’s due time the rest of America learned a thing or two about ringing in Christmas from our fellow citizens the Caribbean.

At a dinner earlier this month hosted at the James Beard House in New York City, four of the island’s culinary talents put together a five-course meal under the theme Navidad Borinqueña — Puerto Rican Christmas. The goal of the evening was two-fold: to promote the idea that Puerto Rican culture and cuisine doesn’t reside solely in the resorts of San Juan, and that the island, its restaurants, and its bars, are open for business just over a year after Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. territory. The chefs invited into the kitchen represented a range of traditions and backgrounds, including Maria Mercedes Grubb, co-founder of Gallo Negro, Paxx Caraballo Moll of El Baoricua/Jungle BaoBao, Natalia Vallejo, a pop-up chef from the central part of the island, and Kelly Pirro of Mai Pen Rai.

The Beard dinner focused on, what Caraballo Moll called, “Christmas at the beach,” with a seafood forward menu. But when I sat down with all four chefs to discuss Puerto Rico’s edible and imbibe-able traditions, they all pointed to one Christmas dish they think the rest of America is missing out on [. . .]

For full article and recipes, see

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