An interesting piece from NPR on food experiences in Puerto Rico. The team found that local fresh fish and produce like mangoes and passion fruit were not easily found because they were exported to New York or London where they fetch higher prices. When the agricultural system was moved towards a more industrial model, local crops were often overlooked and that had an impact on eateries that served local specialties. Dining out in San Juan often means sushi or tacos these days. This experience is not atypical. The allure of trying out different cuisines and a smaller market for traditional fare leads to an eclipse of more homey foods. It also sometimes leads to quirky combos like “masala pasta”.
Where do we go from here? With time, people will make an effort to grow local crops again. Food is so intimately linked to our feelings and memories that we find it hard to completely detach ourselves from our roots. If the local economy becomes robust and can support higher prices, the produce that is currently exported will again find a market at home. But , in the meantime, what about all the recipes for this local produce? The grandmoms, moms and aunts have them in their hearts so make sure to write it all down so that future generations can share the same flavors and feel a connection to their land and people.