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!