Dish Gal's guide to getting the most out of life, one meal at a time...

I like the city of San Juan...

Clearly great food is a passion of mine. Another is traveling. So it will come as no surprise that one of my absolute favorite things in life is learning about and sampling local food and drink in a new place. When I spent a semester abroad, I lived for that-- I tried semla (a wheat bun stuffed with cream and almond paste) in Stockholm, puffin and shark in Reykjavik, pa amb tomàquet (crusty bread rubbed with tomato and drizzled with olive oil) in Barcelona, and of course, pizza (and LOTS of gelato) in Rome.

When the SO and I booked our trip to Puerto Rico, one of the first things I did was buy a guide book and flip open to the dining section; my excitement rivalled a teenage boy opening up a Playboy.

The first thing Zain (the author of my guide book; we're on a first name basis) informed me was that one of the most popular dishes in PR is mofongo, which right off the bat sounds hilarious, and is my new favorite word. (During the trip, Z and I liked to try to sneak in the word mofongo into everyday conversation... Like, "Where in the mofongo is the key to the rental car?" or "This sunburn is a mofongo!"). In reality, a mofongo is mashed plantains stuffed with some sort of meat seasoned with garlic and olive oil.

Another favorite isn't too much of a surprise: arroz con habichuela, or rice and beans. This came with pretty much anything you ordered. No complaints though—it was way more tasty than it sounds.

We sampled both of these across the street from our hotel (we stayed in Isla Verde) at a small and locally-run restaurant, Mi Casita. My mofongo came con pollo. It was curious eating food seasoned so differently than I’m used to. It takes a minute to get your culinary bearing—it’s as if your brain is picturing one taste, and your tongue is getting another—a bit of a disconnect.

Here is my mofongo, in all its glory:

Here is Z's arroz con habichuela (with "native-style" chicken):

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