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Eating Puerto Rico

A History of Food, Culture, and Identity

Cruz Miguel Ortiz Cuadra

Publication Year: 2013

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-11

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pp. xi-xiv

For centuries now, the analysis of culture — of all that we create, shape, and do, to borrow the wording of Roman Guardini — has tried to distinguish humankind from nature. The book before you — Eating Puerto Rico: A History of Food, Culture, and Identity — fits within an emerging genre that might be called ecological humanism: a form of social- historical analysis that ...

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pp. xv-xvi

While researching and writing this book, I sampled many of the dishes mentioned in it, taking care to follow exactly each step called for in the old recipes. My use of traditional ingredients and methods, however, does not mean that this is a recipe book or even a historical study of food with old recipes as its foundation. More than anything, it represents an attempt — in ...

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pp. 1-14

When the Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Día interviewed several public figures in 1999 regarding their favorite meal, Orlando Parga — a leading proponent of what has been labeled anexionismo jíbaro¹ — replied, “corned beef with fried ripe plantains.” For Senator Norma Burgos, it was “chicken fricassee with white rice and pega’o (rice with the crisp, slightly charred ...

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1 Rice

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pp. 15-49

Perhaps the most effective introduction to the topic of rice is a personal an-ecdote. One night in July 1989, while I was staying in Sisikon — a town in the Swiss canton of Uri — it turned out that my only option for having supper was the restaurant of a local hotel. A first look at the hotel confirmed that winter, not summer, was presumably its busiest season. An attentive waitress led me ...

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2 Beans

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pp. 50-76

In 1999, in the midst of all the millenarian prophecies foretelling the end of the world, the Medalla brewery released a television commercial playing on the idea that we can never really be certain of what lies in store for us to-morrow. The commercial, set in some indeterminate future time, featured a young professional hurrying to have his main meal of the day — lunch. ...

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3 Cornmeal

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pp. 77-95

In Francisco Oller’s emblematic painting, El velorio (The Wake), the viewer’s gaze tends to be drawn to the human figures in the center of the composition, but if we look above them, near the top of the canvas, we see twenty or more corncobs hanging from a beam running below the roof. The cobs In the days before industrialized farming, corn harvested for domestic ...

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4 Codfish

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pp. 96-121

.Although found in the frigid waters of the north Atlantic, cod became the source of and a principal ingredient in some of the dishes most distinctive to Puerto Rican cuisine, often accompanying or being mixed with other food, such as chayote (a pear- shaped, squashlike vegetable) and eggs to ...

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5 Viandas

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pp. 122-160

In contemporary Puerto Rico, no one thinks twice when viandas appear as an everyday item on the menus of restaurants serving local fare. Today, however — unlike several decades ago — viandas appear not as the center of a meal but as a side dish, what in Spain is called guarnición, or in Italy contorni. If we look closely at the menu of one of these restaurants, we will ...

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6 Meat

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pp. 161-198

During an interview that took place more than a hundred years ago, Vicente Muñoz — a planter and former mayor of the municipality of Caguas — was asked by Henry King Carroll, a U.S. Treasury Department official, whether the order issued by General Guy V. Henry, the island’s American military governor, prohibiting the leveling of taxes on consumer products had ...

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7 Are We Still What We Ate?

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pp. 199-244

In the four decades from 1960 to the start of the new millennium, Puerto Rico experienced a groundswell of socioeconomic development that helped transform the gastronomic landscape, radically changing the types and variety of foodstuffs available, as well as the ways in which they were acquired and then prepared, cooked, and brought to the table. Since the mid- 1950s, ...

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8 Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

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pp. 245-260

The foodstuffs that can be classified as basic to the diet and gastronomy of Puerto Rico were also central to many other regional food cultures across the globe prior to 1500. Their appearance in Puerto Rico, and in the Caribbean more broadly, resulted from such factors as the movement of people ...

Selected Glossary

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pp. 261-276


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pp. 277-342


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pp. 343-368


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pp. 369-388

E-ISBN-13: 9781469612621
Print-ISBN-13: 9781469608822

Publication Year: 2013