Welcome Readers! This is The Infinite Table’s very first guest post and I could not be more excited about it. So read this post and love it!

Gabriel Kussin lives and works in Durham, North Carolina. He is the Membership Coordinator at El Centro Hispano, a Latino advocacy organization and is always searching for new and exciting recipes.


I recently started working at a Latino advocacy organization and the first two questions that my colleagues asked when they discovered my Puerto Rican heritage were, “What can you cook?” and “When will you cook for us?” There was an automatic assumption amongst these Ecuadorians, Mexicans and Colombians that not only could I cook, but I could cook well.

The connection between being Boricua (the indigenous Taino name for Puerto Rico and its inhabitants) and Puerto Rican food is representative of the rich diversity of the Caribbean island. Our music, our people, our landmarks and our food are mixtures of African, Spanish, Taino and, more recently, American influences. In Spanish, Puerto Ricans refer to their cuisine as comida criolla, or literally “Creolefood.” While each Latin American country possesses its own distinct culinary flavor, Puerto Rican food has the greatest range of tastes, styles, ingredients and dishes. Yet even if you are eating chicharronde pollo (a breaded, garlic chicken) or a traditional Puerto Rican Octopus Salad there is something that reminds you of La Isla. You may not be able to describe it, but it will leave you wanting more.

In an attempt to represent that diversity of flavor as well as experimentation that is quintessential to Puerto Rican food and culture as a whole, I decided to make several trademark Puerto Rican dishes withsome small twists: salmon filled pastelillos, or miniaturized empanadas, fried plantains and asopao, a Puerto Rican gumbo.

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