(that, my friends, is a cod fritter

aka: bacalaíto though there is nothing ito* about it)

not in piñones,

but still: yum

Piñones is best-known for its food (and I hear for its mangroves, too. Whatever. Can you eat mangroves?). Going to Piñones means to me driving on a narrow road, which runs alongside the Atlantic, with eateries on both sides. By eateries I mean huts or kiosks, some (a few) are made of cement, fewer are ‘fancy,’ where you can get “rice dishes and fried hot-enough-to-burn-the-roof-of-your-mouth everythings” at incredible prices and with scrumptious flavor.

it is not far from

the San Juan airport. I used to go pick up my Mom to go eat there right after my arrivals, but she’d have a meal cooked for me and preferred to stay home. That happenned maybe twice. Thereafter, I would get my luggage and rental car, head to Piñones, eat to my heart’s content sola, then go to Mom’s. 😬 She raised no fool.

the first time my husband and i went

to Puerto Rico, we passsed the turn to Piñones even though I called it out • told him all about it • almost cried. But, nope, he wanted to go to the hotel first. I was like: Dude! The hotel is only eight minutes away, not going anywhere, and a) I’m hungry, b) it’s what I do, c) it may be too dark|late later for you to want to venture out.

i’d been doing it forever!

Once in the room, he even wanted to unpack. What? I was losing it. Tapping my foot sort-of-thing. So we go. And drive far enough to the best one, according to one of my sisters who lives there: El Boricua. Boricua is someone from the island of Borinquén — Borikén was the indigenous name of the island. Anyway, you can’t miss the place,

it is away from the hoopla of all the others

It took some time to get the food — there’s usually a line to order, then you wait for the food while drinking local beers or coconut water straight from the 🥥, which they keep in coolers. When our turn came, the woman taking the orders asked if it was our first time. I responded in Spanish (to her amazement) that it was his first, not mine. So she gave us two fried treasures for him to taste.

ever since, we go to piñones upon arrival and again before we leave. it’s how we say hello + goodbye to the island.

She parks in a sandy lot and goes to every stand before settling on the first. Wrinkled old women in flip-flops and batas, loose, cotton dresses in floral prints or pastel shades that button from the chest to the knees, cook rice dishes and fried hot-enough-to-burn-the-roof-of-your-mouth everythings. They laugh and pick up food with their buckled fingers and metal spoons and talk to Sara as if they have known her all her life. She doesn’t arrive at the hacienda until well after dinner.

Like A Blue Thread
* adding ito or ita at the end of a word is a way of describing something in a diminutive way, yet bacalaíto is the name of those cod fritters. regardless of size =)