Say the word Mofongo. Just roll it around in your mouth a little. Imagine how it would sound said out loud, perhaps in a moment of pique or passion. Sounds deliciously naughty, doesn’t it? Naughty enough that I’ve shared it with young nieces and nephews — as is my prerogative as the corrupt, childfree aunt — to use in moments where they’re caught without just the right word to express themselves. Risqué enough to raise eyebrows, especially when viewed on the stern of our shared race boat.
Imagine that name shouted in vain, should our little boat be lucky enough to pass others on the racecourse.
In fact, MOFONGO is not naughty at all, but it is decidedly delicious. Best described as Puerto Rican comfort food, it’s a concoction of mashed plantains (which look like bananas, but are much firmer, starchier and less sweet), garlic, pork cracklings or bacon, and magic. It’s used as a side dish, or as a base for toppings like chicken or fish creole. Though it can be served in an elegant setting, it’s homey and casual. Rick and I look forward to eating it whenever we visit Puerto Rico.
Mofongo can be found at the casual beachside kiosks near beautiful Flamenco Beach on the island of Culebra.
Wait? Puerto Rico? While the goal of my sabbatical was to sail the Bahamas aboard Calypso, and San Juan is over 850 miles from Nassau, my sabbatical did, indeed, start in Puerto Rico. Rick and I are creatures of habit, and one of our habits has been to ease our entry into winter by vacationing in the Caribbean in early November. Thus, many months ago, we’d booked and paid for a sailing charter with our friend Jeff in the Spanish Virgin Islands — the scattering of small islands between the east coast of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Had we known that we were going to go cruising, it’s unlikely that our SVI trip would have happened. But the plans were made, and we forced ourselves to suffer through a week of scenery like this:
Bahia Tortuga, Culebrita …. with no one to share it with.
We made the best of it, and the Puerto Rico trip served as a transition from real life and cruising life. It was a reminder that living on a sailboat in the tropics can be hard (and HOT and SWEATY), but has many rewards. We are home now — and still rocking and rolling — but Rick leaves shortly to take Calypso from Charleston to Florida, and I’ll join him in a few days.
In the meantime, in the next few posts, I’ll share a few vignettes from Puerto Rico.