Puerto Rico

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As mainland chains disappear across Puerto Rico, homegrown restaurants pop up in their place

El Vigía. Photo courtesy of the Carrión family

During my husband’s family reunions, “El Vigía” is often mentioned: A patriarch of sorts, El Vigía is a vigilant presence looking after several generations of the family in their hometown of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Idyllic, sentimental tales about dearly departed El Vigía are told through misty eyes. Yet, El Vigía is not a long-lost family member. El Vigía (translation: “the lookout”) was the family home, as deeply beloved and mourned as the ancestors who once inhabited it.

Built in 1921 in Santurce, then considered the rural outskirts of San Juan, El Vigía stood on a sizable parcel between Loíza…


Community rallies to help get Ita’s Puerto Rican Food back on the road

Call 911

Kristina Melendez-Thompson hung upside down by one ankle against the side of her food truck. She vaulted through the window to escape her crumpled vehicle because she couldn’t budge the door. There were freshly filled propane tanks on board and she knew they could burst into flame at any moment.

But she’s a fierce woman. In a GI Jane-style maneuver, she hauled herself up on the oversized truck mirrors, freed the foot caught in her seatbelt, and dropped to the ground. Then she ran.

Crumpled dreams

On August 9, Kristina was heading down the 64 west to the 288 in Richmond when…


The island’s culinary traditions struggle to rebound after the storm

Illustrations by Emmy Kastner

By Salvador Gómez-Colón

Hurricane María wasn’t satisfied with tearing down homes, flooding our streets, and destroying families. She wanted to leave a long-lasting impact that would hide in plain sight.

Puerto Rico was distracted with the debris-covered streets and sheer darkness at night. And now, if we look at our dinner tables, we see that our meals weren’t what they once were.

The combined effects of Puerto Rico’s lack of food sovereignty and the scarcity of food resources post-María has radically redefined the cultural touchstone of Puerto Rican meals.

My favorite meal is arroz con habichuelas, churrasco, y tostones (skirt…


Meet the farmers who are reclaiming food sovereignty on the island

Adrián Jordán García makes a living in Puerto Rico growing fruits and vegetables he sells to larger grocery store chains. All photos: Lindsay Talley

Row by row, Adrián Jordán García and his three workers move through the neatly planted papaya forest. The day is hot and dry, and everything is tinged with the yellow of sunny, dusty landscapes. Some workers wear long sleeves and gloves to protect their bare skin from the caustic papaya sap; others are less sensitive to it. They pop fruit off the trees with their hands, or with long tubes to access the fruit that is too high to reach.

To the untrained eye, it is difficult to see why they select some fruits and leave others behind. As soon…

Heated

Food from every angle: From Medium x Mark Bittman

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