Nothing says vacation like artery-clogging goodness. In Puerto Rico, throw on your loosest fitting maxi and look no further than “frituras” – fried snacks.
Luquillo is known for its roadside kiosks, or “kioskos” filled with frituras, but I prefer Pinones because the area is livelier with plenty of loud music, games and a great beach just steps away.
Pinones is close to San Juan – about a 3o minute drive – so it is really easy to get to. There’s only one road through the town so it does get congested if you’re driving. But see this as a bonus; while you’re waiting in traffic you’ll have time to do an online search for “juice cleanse” – you will need to take one after your day in Pinones.
When you arrive in town you’ll notice some of the places look terrible. I mean really, really terrible. Paint peeling, dilapidated structures or no structure at all! But the worse it looks, the better it tastes – at least that’s what I kept trying to tell myself.
Some places are better than others but they all have one thing in common – they’re cheap. Pincho? $1.00 Empanda? $1.00 Bottled water? $1.00 Medalla beer? $1.00
There’s a lot of food to take in so here’s the Young is the New Black handy cliff notes version:
- Alcapurrias – mashed plantain and yautia – similar to a potato – with meat stuffed inside and then fried.
- Bacalaito – a deep-fried mixture of cod and batter. These are my favorite and they look like large flattened discs.
- Chicharron – fried pork skin.
- Coco frio – water from a coconut. They’ll take a fresh coconut, cut it open and throw a straw right in.
- Empanadas or pastelillos – deep-fried pies with various fillings (caracola = conch, carne = meat, camaron = shrimp, jueyes = crab, langosta = lobster, pollo = chicken, pulpo = octopus, queso = cheese)
- Mofongo – mashed fried green plantain shaped into a large bowl. If it’s filled you’ll call it mofongo relleno. Ask for “ajo,” which means garlic.
- Pinchos – a shish-kabob.
- Piononos – sweet plantain filled with meat, and then of course, fried.
- Relleno de papa – mashed potato with ground meat inside all fried up into a little ball.
- Tostones – a green plantain, flattened and fried. Mayo-ketcup sauce is a must for dipping.
You won’t need to know Spanish, as you can just point away to your heart’s content. However, I highly recommend learning the phrase, “Que frescos estan?” It means “How fresh are those?” The fresher the better!
One day in Pinones and you’ll bring new meaning to the phrase “food coma.” Enjoy it while you can. And let me know how that cleanse goes.
Check back later this week and I’ll share more treats from Puerto Rico, minus the fried parts.