Day 26: The Island (archipelago) of Enchantment

Puerto Rico is a land of fusion.  It is an American territory (where you don't need your passport) that uses the dollar as its currency, but the road signs are in Spanish and the measurements are metric (while globally relevant, the metric system is shunned in America).  Commonly confused as an Island, Puerto Rico is an archipelago by itself, and is part of the larger island chain that includes, Jamaica, Cuba, Haiti, and the rest of the Caribbean islands.  It is only roughly 110 mi by 40 mi but it has 270 miles of beaches, has more than 200 caves and it's 10,000 coffee farms produce 20 million pounds of coffee beans every year.  It is a land of beauty and the food doesn't disappoint.

Tostones Slider

The Basics

Puerto Rican food is a blend of Spanish, African, and Taino (the indigenous natives who were wiped out fifty years after Columbus landed on the archipelago) flavors.  The Taino grew, corn, plantains, and ate seafood.  The Spanish introduced pork and beans to the archipelago. These flavors combined with the creole Caribbean flavors comprise the basics of Puerto Rican food.

Mi Garita is a family run food truck featuring traditional Puerto Rican foods and a few fusion foods of their own.  The best way to find them is to check out their twitter, where they post their weekly schedule.  One common spot for them is in the parking lot of the Museum of Fine Arts.

Try their Tostones Sliders.  The "buns" are made out of fried plantains and it is filled with savory chicken.  Their pastelitos are the local equivalent to empanadas.  They are more simple than their main-land counterparts but they come with an interesting addition: dipping sauces.  One of the sauces tastes like a spicy thousand island dressing and the other is a mango sauce.  Both sauces are great additions to the dish and they compliment the chicken or beef fillings of the pastelitos.

Mi Garita also has its own Houston focused fusion.  Apparently Houstonians lack the imagination to conceive of a food truck that caries food from anywhere south of the border and lacks tacos.  In a typical Island je ne sais quoi, they brought tacos to their menu which include their savory chicken from the pastelitos (Puerto Ricans love their chicken--and we do too) and create a taco that just might be the best thing on the menu.

Pastelillo, Chicken or Beef, come with a choice of Mango or "spicy thousand Island" dipping sauces.

While you are at it, try one of their imported colas, whose brand name is a tip of the hat to Puerto Rico's Natives.  Each drink is unique in its own right.  The Malta is a malt beverage which has a "root beery" flavor with hints of sweet carrots or dates.  The Champagne, tastes like a cream soda with a berry twist.  Either drink will give you something to talk about.

Kola Champange (somewhere between big red and creme soda, malta (Rootbeer with carrots/dates flavor)