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Puerto Rican culinary traditions turned into fine cuisine

Caribbean food and drink is often showcased at food fairs and events across the world, but one man is bringing a traditional lesser-known Puerto Rican dish to life at a popular food market. For the second year, Manolo Lopez is showcasing mofongo at his Mofon·GO NY stand at Smorgasburg, a popular seasonal outdoor Saturday market in Brooklyn, New York.

Puerto Rican culinary traditions turned into fine cuisine

Caribbean fare has become more popular with foodies over recent years, due to more chefs from the region showcasing the culinary delights of their island nations at culinary events and festivals. One Puerto Rican chef has made his name in New York after bring his country’s unofficial dish to the plates of food lovers through a pop-up stand.

Enjoying the exquisitness of foreing countries gives you always a glimpe of the experiences you'll have when travelling to other places. Manolo Lopez recently launched his Mofon·GO NY stand for the second year at Smorgasburg, a renowned outdoor Saturday market in Brooklyn, New York that takes place throughout the summer. The young chef is the only one to sell Puerto Rican dishes at the market that has 75 vendors, and his signature dish is mofongo. He might be considered a culinary ambassador of Puerto Rico travel destination.

Mofongo is a dish made of green plantains that are mashed with garlic and mixed with ingredients including chicharron, chunks of chicken or shrimp, and vegetables, which are then tightly pressed into a mound shape. The filling dish dates back to Puerto Rico’s West African heritage.

At Mofon·GO NY, Lopez has his own version that has been based on a recipe from his mother. The colourful dish is served to customers in biodegradable cups and can be topped with fresh chopped cilantro, bell peppers, and a choice of sauces. Lopez explains:

“Mofon·GO NY was created because I saw a void in street food culture. There wasn’t really any authentic island-flavoured food, and I think a lot of the food industry in the Latin community isn’t represented strongly enough here in NY. I wanted to give it some aggressive marketing, a more modern taste and a more modern look.”

As well as the Smorgasburg market, Mofon·GO NY will have a presence at several music festivals this summer including Mystery Land and Full Moon Festival. Plans are also in place for collaborations with Village Voice and Rums of Puerto Rico.

Lopez also commented:

“This is a bunch of young people doing it from scratch, and we’re just redefining what our culture is through a small bowl.”

The chef added that one of the best drinks to accompany monfongo is Ron Cana, a Puerto Rican “moonshine” rum.

Some examples of Puerto Rico’s delicious dishes include bacalaitos (crispy cod fritters), lechon asado (smoked spit-roasted pig), sorullitos de maiz (fried corn snacks), queso frito (fried cheese cubes), piraguas (fruity shaved ice desserts), and batidas (fruity smoothies).

The fantastic food is just one reason to visit the island nation of Puerto Rico. Its emerald-sloped mountains, sugar-soft sandy beaches, turquoise sea, and the El Yunque National Forest that is thriving with wildlife attracts thousands of holidaymakers every year. The pristine coral reefs are perfect for scuba diving and snorkelling activities, while the vibrant capital city of San Jan has lively bars, gourmet restaurants, and shops selling brand names and locally-made handicrafts, artwork and souvenirs.

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