WifiScreen FREE Windows Application to allow using iPad/Tablet as the second monitor.
New York Times / Life - Entertain

Pasteles, a Puerto Rican Tradition, Have a Special Savor Now

The tamale-like treats are popular during the holidays, and even more so since Hurricane Maria pummeled the island.

Harry Franqui-Rivera, a history professor, pulls thread to tie up pasteles in his kitchen in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. He got the recipe from his mother in Puerto Rico. Hilary Swift for The New York Times

After Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, it took two weeks for Harry Franqui-Rivera to reach his 76-year-old mother, Amelia, by phone at her home on the island’s west coast.

When he did, Mr. Franqui-Rivera, a history professor at Bloomfield College in New Jersey, found that her main concern wasn’t the lack of electricity or running water. It was the loss of her Christmas pasteles.

Slide Show|8 Photos How to Make Pasteles

How to Make Pasteles

Jessica Emily Marx for The New York Times

Without power, Ms. Rivera de Franqui had to throw out the pounds of green bananas she had already grated to make the dough for the savory bundles sometimes described as the Puerto Rican version of tamales.

A centuries-old blend of Taino Indian, Spanish and African flavors, pasteles are a prime example of Puerto Rico’s cocina criolla — Creole cooking — made not with cornmeal masa but with a mash of green bananas and plantains bolstered by sturdy Caribbean root crops like yautia and yuca. Wrapped in a smoky-sweet banana leaf, they’re typically filled with seasoned meat, stained with sunset-hued annatto oil and boiled up by the dozen at any gathering held between Thanksgiving and Three Kings Day on Jan. 6.

“There’s no holiday if there’s no pasteles,” said Mr. Franqui-Rivera, 45, who, like many members of the Puerto Rican diaspora, used to tote them back to the mainland frozen in his suitcase — until he insisted that his mother show him her recipe. This year, with groceries and electricity still in short supply on the island, he will execute what he calls Operation Pasteles, bringing frozen masa to his mother from his kitchen in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Mr. Franqui-Rivera ties up the banana leaves. Hilary Swift for The New York Times

Anyone who has ever made pasteles (to pronounce it, many people skip over the last letter: pah-TEH-leh) will understand Ms. Rivera’s plight.

Pastel-making is fraught with time-consuming tasks, the hardest being the making of the banana-and-plantain masa. Equally taxing is the layering of ingredients — masa; either meat, seafood or vegetables; and Spanish-style extras like olives, raisins or chickpeas — onto sheets of banana leaf and parchment paper. Those are all folded into rectangular little packages and tied up, two at a time, into a pair of pasteles that everyone calls “la yunta.” (And before anyone can take a bite, each pastel must be boiled for an hour.)

“They are a pain in the balloons,” said Hernan Rodriguez, 52, who was born in Puerto Rico and has lived in New York City since 1987. His wife, the food writer Kathleen Squires, has written lovingly about his family’s holiday pastelada, or pastel-making party, in Puerto Rico. Mr. Rodriguez, who hosts a New York supper club called Chef’s Dinner Series, said many of his relatives attend with a drink in hand, “grating until they get bored.”

Lilly Ramos hands out pasteles to workers restoring power in Puerto Rico. The pasteles were made as part of a project by Hernan Rodriguez and his wife, the food writer Kathleen Squires. Erika P. Rodriguez for The New York Times

But this year, everyone must pitch in. The plan, Ms. Squires said, is to make as many pasteles as possible “from whatever we can find” at a cousin’s house near San Juan, then give them out to volunteer relief workers and hard-hit communities.

Even when you use a food processor to grate and purée the masa and freeze it in advance (wishful thinking for those without power in Puerto Rico), it’s still “a marathon,” said Angel Roman, 61, a deputy press secretary for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. In his spare time, he promotes the food, music and art of the Puerto Rican diaspora.

Mr. Roman, a second-generation Nuyorican, recently shot video of his sister-in-law Lucy Ramirez as she made pasteles, so as to pass what he fears are rapidly disappearing skills on to the family’s younger members. “Now people say, ‘I want pasteles,’ and they find these entrepreneurs,” Mr. Roman said. “People hand out cards, or they say, ‘Hey, call Doña Maria.’”

Lucy Ramirez makes coquito, a holiday drink to go with pasteles, at her apartment on the Lower East Side. Hilary Swift for The New York Times

In New York, you could also find your pastel maker on Yelp — there’s Cater2u in the Bronx, Pasteles Cristina in Queens — or at groceries like the 76-year-old Moore Street Market in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where generations of Puerto Ricans have shopped for ajicito chiles, the saw-toothed herb called culantro and these days, pre-grated masa.

A handful of its vendors, like La Union, sell pasteles year-round, but during the holidays even the market’s religious-supply shop makes them to order. In the basement, Jesus Rodriguez works double-time building handmade machines from washing-machine motors that allow semiprofessional pastel makers to grate a box of bananas at a time. And across the street at the 49-year-old Anibal Meat Market, pastel makers like Maria Garcia stop in to buy chicken and pork for the filling.

Ms. Garcia, 70, charges $25 a dozen and has been selling pasteles for 35 years. She makes most of her sales through her son, who puts up a handwritten ad at his barbershop in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn.

Jesus Rodriguez uses a handmade machine to purée green bananas for the pasteles that he sells at his stand in the Moore Street Market in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Hilary Swift for The New York Times

Most years, similar scenes would be playing out across Puerto Rico, said Melissa Fuster, 37, a professor of public health nutrition at Brooklyn College who is originally from San Juan, and often writes about Puerto Rican food culture.

Though many supermarkets on the island are still empty, she said, pasteles have long been improvised with what’s at hand, resulting in versions made with only yuca, without any filling, or with rice instead of masa.

“In difficult times, one thing that defines us is that we keep positive,” Ms. Fuster said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if people found a way to make pasteles.”

Lucy Ramirez pulls pasteles out of a pot in her kitchen on the Lower East Side. Hilary Swift for The New York Times

Suset Laboy Perez, 36, a Puerto Rican native who runs a Brooklyn public relations firm with her sister, Maria, worries less about pasteles this year than about the thousands of Puerto Ricans leaving the island, and the resulting losses to their culture.

Still, she said, she never made pasteles herself until years after she moved to the United States, holding her own pastel-making party as a way to connect with home.

“There will be more pasteladas,” Ms. Laboy Perez predicted. “We need them now more than ever.”

Recipe: Puerto Rican Pasteles

Follow NYT Food on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. Get regular updates from NYT Cooking, with recipe suggestions, cooking tips and shopping advice.

Correction: December 3, 2017

An earlier version of this article misspelled the phrase many Puerto Ricans use to describe a pair of pasteles. It is la yunta, not la junta.

Original Source

ADS

LATER

Life - Entertain

15 Hilarious Clothing Disasters It’s Hard to Look Away From

Not all of us are fashion experts, and sometimes we have problems choosing the right clothing designs. But some people fail so badly when making or wearing clothes that you just can’t help wondering how it was even possible. Bright Side made a list of unsuccessful shapes, patterns, and prints from just funny to very embarrassing. Look through them to the end!

Read More
Life - Entertain

5 Exercises to Test the Age of Your Body

Each person has innate flexibility, and that’s why kids easily do splits and put their legs over their heads. As time passes, we lose our natural flexibility and joint mobility. Office work also worsens the situation. Finally, we find that it’s difficult to straighten up our back or impossible to zip up a dress. Bright Side has 5 exercises that will help you test your body’s flexibility and guess your age group. Be ready — the results may be unpleasant. Warm up before you try the exercises: you can jump and do squats and leg swings.

Read More