Hispanic Heritage Food Tour
Today you can find very modern versions of great classics being sold in food trucks all over the world and Latin cuisine is no exception. On the island of Puerto Rico, there are over 100 food trucks and now we are able to get a little taste of Puerto Rico via the Isla Estrella food truck on Colombia Avenue in Lancaster, Pa.
Could you even imagine that Hurricane Maria would be a blessing for anyone? Well for some who left their homes on the island of Puerto Rico, either due to losing their jobs or running from hurricanes it has been a blessing in disguise. About 2 years ago Jayson Rodriguez and Melanie Garcia owners of the Isla Estrella food truck decided to take that leap of faith. Upon speaking with them we came to the realization that the universe always gives us a push towards our calling and sometimes it takes a storm or hurricane to wake you up and force you to follow your dreams!
Would you believe that Jayson is a self-taught chef who started as a dishwasher? He learned to cook at hotels like Ponce Hilton and Costa Caribe doing many jobs from line cook, buffets, and weddings. Did you ever interview a business owner and right in the middle of the interview they start crying? My eyes watered up as well as many years ago I also left my job of over 21+ years to do this publication and become self-employed. Therefore I understand these are not tears of weakness but tears of joy, struggles and passion all rolled up together.
Although Puerto Rican cooking is somewhat similar to both Spanish and other Latin American cuisines, it is a unique tasty blend of influences, using indigenous seasonings and ingredients. Locals call their cuisine Cocina Criolla, which literally means “Creole cooking”. Puerto Rican cuisine has been influenced by an array of cultures including Taino, Spanish, and African. Africans also introduced the deep-frying of foods and that is still huge on the island today. The list of influencers of where food was brought is way too long to list.
The day I visited they were serving a dish that to me is like a tour of Puerto Rico. They married Mofongo (garlic mashed green plantains), with Mamposteao (stewed rice & beans together), Maduros (ripe sweet plantains) and Churrasco (Skirt Steak) all piled high on one plate? Then named it Boricuazo (meaning done by a Puerto Rican). Yes even giving the dishes creative names is a game-changer on the island. As a Puerto Rican myself I’m so proud of Jayson and his wife for taking a chance on their dreams. Follow them on social media to know what plates they are serving on which days. Make it a family trip and on the drive over, also support local farmers and their stands. This is what America is all about, diversity, supporting dreams and especially supporting local. Welcome, Isla Estrella!