Adriana is a Puerto Rico home cook with a soft spot for music, running, travel, New Orleans cuisine and culture, and a red 5-quart cast iron Dutch oven.
I was born and raised in Puerto Rico’s greater San Juan area, and currently live here. I’ve actually lived here all my life, except for the four years I spent in New Orleans while obtaining my undergraduate degree in the late nineties. That’s where the love for that city, its food and way of living stems from. I’ve always said that New Orleans was more like Puerto Rico than any other city in the US, warts and all. It is, after all, the northernmost city in the Caribbean. Darren Olagues, a fellow Tulane graduate, writes in his widely disseminated piece “Have You Ever Been to New Orleans”:
“There is a culture and tradition in New Orleans that is sweet and simple. No need to overanalyze this. It recognizes that the enjoyment of family and life is just as good for a poor person as it is for a rich person. A hand on a shoulder and slight touch on the arm is not considered too forward but just a sign that says welcome. Good music, food, and drink is made all the better when surrounded by friends who share the same outlook on life. When it is your way of life, when it is woven into your circle of friends, social gatherings aren’t seen as excesses but as something you just do.”
I’d like to think it applies to us in Puerto Rico as well. Our rice and beans might be laced with sofrito and ham instead of trinity and andouille, our beers are lighter for to the tropical heat, but the desire to bond as families (both the blood family and the ones we create with dear friends) over meals and stories is the same. I have seen second lines pop out of nowhere in Old San Juan; people just don’t know that there’s an actual term for following whoever is playing music to your own beat.
My love for cooking and most things food related also goes back to my college years. Once I moved into an apartment and had access to my own kitchen, I would find myself calling my Mother to ask how to make this or that and she would mail me written copies of those recipes I would call repeatedly to ask. By my senior year, I was already confident as to my abilities – downright cocky, now that I think of it – because I dared to cook a meal for 80 persons during Latin American week. I made arroz con pollo using a recipe from my high school’s fundraising cookbook, beans with the recipe from the back of the Goya can, and four flans. Since it turned out pretty well, I ended up catering other functions for my college extracurriculars and even considered gearing the next steps in my education towards food.
After coming back from college, I moved back in with my parents and the kitchen took a backseat to the demands of working in public accounting. That changed after meeting my husband nine years ago. We bonded over food, wooed each other with food, and translated this common passion into a way of living. Our vacations revolve around the food and wine of the destinations, our weekends are spent finding ways to continue improving our favorite dishes and perfecting our technique (and budding photography skills), and a workday isn’t complete until we call and ask “what did you have for lunch”. At the risk of sounding completely trite, he truly “is the butter to my bread”.
In addition to cooking, reading and running are two of my favorite ways to decompress. I am fortunate to work full-time, and although my hours are not as crazy as they were when I started working, I still need outlets to blow off some steam. Running keeps me sane, and lets me start my days with as much positive energy as I can generate. It goes without saying that it also balances my weekend overindulgences, ‘calorically’ speaking. I like to read fiction, cookbooks, and memoirs – the Kindle Fire is probably one of my favorite gadgets ever.
Thank you for stopping by and I truly hope you enjoy reading my blog as much as I enjoy cooking and writing for it. Should you have any questions, comments, or ideas you’d like to share, you may contact me here.
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