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  • Writer's pictureTeresa Conway

Puerto Rico - Isle of Enchantment

Updated: Sep 21, 2023

Two Truths and a Lie

The Recipe - Palmeritas de Guyaba

3.4 million Americans call Puerto Rico home. This small island boasts a unique and vibrant culture forged by the conflagration of Tainos, Africans, and Spaniards over the past five centuries. Much like the Hawaiians enjoy an “Aloha” culture, Puerto Ricans embody the spirit of “Boricua.” Their official tourism site claims “Boricua” is a rhythm and flavor found in the proud and passionate souls of Puerto Rico.

I became soooooo hungry researching Puerto Rican cuisine. I want to try all of it: tostones, lechón asado, arroz y habichuelas. (fried plantains, roast pork, rice and beans) The two most popular cookies, polvorones and mantecaditos, seem like pretty simple riffs on shortbread. I’m sure they’re delicious, but I was much more excited by the idea of quesitos (little cheese) and pastelillos de guayaba (guava pastries). Both of these feature puff pastry filled with cheese and in the case of pastelillos, guava paste. I decided to make palmiers -- a French cookie made by sweetening, folding, and slicing puff pastry into individual palm-leaf-shaped cookies. Their Spanish name is palmeritas.

I made my own puff pastry for the first time. It was actually pretty relaxing. I just read a good book between every turn and made a peaceful morning out of it. Trying to spread guava paste was much more difficult. It’s sold in bricks and I tried to warm it up and make it pliable but failed. I ended up cutting slices as thinly as possible. I rolled the pastry out and dusted it with sugar then added the guava and folded my palmeritas.

After a nice chill, I sliced and baked the cookies. The puff pastry was perfect, but my shaping was not. But at least they smelled lovely. I let them cool on a wire rack before making a cream cheese frosting with a splash of rum. I drizzled it across the cookies before digging in. These are delicious! I have never cooked with guava paste before but it is really special; I'll have to use it more often. I am excited to include the territories as well as the states because all the tropical flavors are sure to be a treat.

Want to experience Puerto Rico for yourself? Then Teresa recommends ...

I have only visited the San Juan Airport. It is a nice airport, but I aim to return and visit the island properly. For a fictional visit, I really enjoyed a touching youth novel called “Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish” by Pablo Cartaya. It is a quick read that made my eyes well up and my stomach rumble.

Time for the whole truth

The battle of San Juan Hill took place in Cuba.

(By the way, you can click on any of the 2 truths and a lie statements to visit the source of the trivia)

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