Pop quiz: When you think of typical Puerto Rican food, what pops in your head?
Rice and beans, right?
This is understandable considering that dish is the staple of the boricua diet. For those of you who need convincing, I openly welcome you to spend the day at my Abuelita’s house in Bayamón. My 94-year-old grandmother will whip up a huge pot of rice and beans at 11 o’clock in the morning and again at night.
Even though we love our rice, plantanos, and lots of fried food, not everyone eats it. In fact, there is a part of the island that has a very different (but still delicious) menu.
Cordillera Central is the central mountain range of the island, which consists of fo rests and the smallest towns in Puerto Rico. It’s that purple-colored section of the map.
This area is not just known for El Yunque and out-of-this-world ziplining. Like I said before, this area has a very different core in their food. Being in this jungle-like area, the natives actually eat more Creole-based cuisine, or in spanish “cocina criolla.”
This is what’s on the Cordillera Central menu:
1.) Longaniza – pork
2.) Yuca – (known as “cassava” in other countries) a root that resembles the potato
3.) Alcapurrias – green bananas fried and filled with ground beef
And for those of you less adventurous in the kitchen, this might look familiar:
4.) Sweet Potato – vegetable cooked similar to Yuca
Because Cordillera Central is land locked, these natives eat a lot of roots and meat; you won’t find seafood out here. Minus the fried food, this is considered the healthy-eating group of Ricans. But even with that, dinner has enough Spanish spice as all other Puerto Rican food!
If any readers have El Yunque on their to-do list, do what my family plans and definitely grab some of this mountain range food after a long day in the rain forest. Look out for one of these:
My personal tip: grab a coconut! My abuelita actually has a coconut tree at her house and I have been sipping on those since I was little. It is A LOT tastier than the coconut milk baught in the supermarket!