Taste of Puerto Rico at Christmas Time

Gathering around my Puerto Rican Christmas table always transports my heart and soul back to my roots.  Featured are delectable confections, made with recipes passed down from generation to generation, enriched with culture, history, and traditions.

First on my plate is Pernil, a slow-cooked, mouthwatering and juicy pork roast. A holiday dinner staple with an aroma that fills the air, it is always guaranteed to awaken appetites.  It is topped with a thin crunchy skin that just melts in your mouth.

Then, comes a heaping spoonful of Arroz con Gandules (rice and pigeon peas). Traditionally cooked in a caldero, it fuses and melds colorful and flavorful seasonings with the rhythms and sounds from the fiesta en la montaña with the tapping and scraping from the serving spoon reaching the pegao (the crusty, charred rice) at the bottom of the pot.

Next on my plate, is the ever-popular Pasteles!  And our most cherished and treasured Christmas tradition, an aguinaldo, a small bundle full of love, tightly wrapped in a banana leaf, which is a priceless inheritance from our Taino ancestors.

The final piece of our Christmas feast, a celebration of heaven and earth, is the Coquito. Our kind of eggnog, baptized with rum. Coquito has a magical way of bringing back beautiful, humble memories. As we drink and eat, we share stories from Christmases past with family and friends, preserving and keeping alive our culture and traditions.

Buen provecho and Feliz Navidad!

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Aurora Ortiz
Aurora Ortiz
Aurora Ortiz is an Education Specialist, Translator, and a 2019 Honoree of the Hispanic Women of Distinction Award. Aurora also has worked with Spanish local, national, and international radio and television stations and has made special appearances on the top national syndicated television morning show Despierta América, the Spanish version of Good Morning America. Aurora is also a member of the National Association of Bilingual Educators (NABE). Aurora’s passion is working with and mentoring children from our community. She is the liaison between the government agency she represents and the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program. Through the years, she has helped collect truckloads of toys for the children of our community.

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