Mofongo: The beloved Puerto Rican mash with deep ties to Africa

Repeating Islands

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A report by Kara Elder for the Washington Post.

“Without a doubt it is the most popular, best known, most loved Puerto Rican dish,” says Von Diaz, a radio producer and writer based in New York. She’s talking about mofongo, a dish made by smashing fried green plantains — frequently in a pilón (mortar and pestle) — with garlic, olive oil and, most traditionally, chicharrón (fried pork skin). The mixture is often molded into a bowl or mound before being stuffed or served with any number of meats or vegetables and a garlicky sauce.

According to historian and author Cruz Miguel Ortíz Cuadra, mofongo comes from the Angolan technique of mashing large amounts of starchy foods, then adding liquid and fat to soften the mixture. (Slaves from Angola and other parts of Africa were brought to Puerto Rico in the 1500s.) Indigenous people on the island also used this…

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