I Left My Heart in Puerto Rico

You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.
Miriam Adeney

I have never found a quote that I identify with as much as this. With my recent penchant for acquiring addresses, I constantly find myself less and less able to say where I’d want to spend the rest of my life. I don’t think I am capable of being stationary every again.

I’m apologizing now, this is going to be a rant post. Feel free to skip to the next bit of orange to check out the awesome recipe for mofongo, or scroll to the bottom if you are crazy enough to want to hear updates on my life.

With the onset of autumn here in Copenhagen, I’ve found myself daydreaming about my travels to warmer climes. The ache of nostalgia has been especially compounded by the news (or lack thereof) coming from one of my favorite places ever: Puerto Rico. At this point, I feel a deep sense of hopelessness at my inability to help this vibrant nation, seeing as how ineffective my prayers seem to be. I’ve signed up to volunteer once rebuilding starts, but I believe that’s all I can do for now. I can only imagine the despair plaguing those trapped on the island, as well as their families on the mainland.

I have been battling with my feeling of culpability for places I’ve never called home, but still fallen in love with. That’s the struggle of traveling. I find myself homesick for so many places across the globe that I feel like Elastigirl, but my draw to so many homes doesn’t seem to diminish the strength of any of them. Nostalgia sucks because you find yourself yearning for an Austin untouched by Californians, a New Orleans untouched by Katrina, a undamaged Puerto Rico and a home that’s no longer yours. It feels like a throat punch from adulthood. I don’t like it.

But I digress.

All of this nostalgia has had me craving a bit of food from my time in Puerto Rico, and at home. My mom would often make Mofongo con Camarones Al Ajillo, one of Puerto Rico’s most popular dishes, to remind us of our travels there.

This past Sunday, my homestay family and I had a relaxing day where we explored the glass market, called Torvehallerne, for lunch. The area has amazing food and wonderful, fresh groceries, so it was nice to spend a rare sunny afternoon there. As soon as I noticed one of the stalls had fresh green plantains (a rarity here in Denmark), you can bet your buttons I yelled at Annette, my homestay mom, that I was in charge of dinner that evening. I was just somewhat proud of the fact that the guy working at the stall had no clue what I was making (and tried to invite himself over for dinner to sample it).

Of course, Denmark doesn’t sell headless and already-deveined shrimp, so a solid 2 hours was spent preparing those little bad boys for what is a normally easy meal. Oh well, the food disappeared in about 10 seconds, so I know it was worth it!

Print Recipe
Mofongo Con Camarones al Ajillo
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Puerto Rican
Prep Time 30 Minutes
Cook Time 1 Hour
Servings
Servings
Ingredients
Janky Danish Knockoff Sazon
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Puerto Rican
Prep Time 30 Minutes
Cook Time 1 Hour
Servings
Servings
Ingredients
Janky Danish Knockoff Sazon
Instructions
Camarones Con Ajillo
  1. Finely chop the garlic until it is almost a paste. Set aside approx. 1/3 of it.
  2. Place a pan over medium high heat and melt the butter. Once the butter is melted, add the olive oil. Finally, add the larger portion of the garlic.
  3. Lower the heat to medium low until the garlic mixture is fragrant and lightly browned. Stir continuously to prevent burning.
  4. Add about 3/4 of the can of tomatoes to the garlic mixture. Stir well, adding in the Sazon (or Janky Sazon). Add parsley and optional chili flakes as well.
  5. Mix in the remainder of the tomatoes. Follow with the water, turning up the heat, and let it simmer for about 2 minutes.
  6. Add the shrimpies to the sauce, and let them cook until they have tightened up and become a bit pink. Salt to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.
Mofongo
  1. Peel the green plantains and cut diagonally into slices. The goal is to maximize their surface area.
  2. Pour 1/2" of oil into a saucepan, letting it heat to hot but not smoking. Fry the plantain slices in the oil until light golden brown on each side before removing them.
  3. Mash each round of fried plantain. If you don't have a tostonera, you can just use the bottom of a cup to mush them flat.
  4. Put the flattened plantains back in the oil, frying them up again. Once they are a deeper, slightly crispier brown, remove them and place them on a paper towel.
  5. In a greased bowl, place the fried plantains. Crumble the bacon over top, and add in the reserved garlic from earlier. Using either a fork or a pestle, mash all of them up, mixing evenly. Once ready, the mofongo should be the consistency of kinda crispy mashed potatoes.
  6. To serve, place mofongo in a compressed little mountain on the plate. Create an indentation on the top, and pour the warm shrimp on top. Its best with hella tomato sauce. Bone app the teeth
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In other news, there’s been more changes than the weather here. My friend Francesca, who I’m going to Paris with, is actually moving into my homestay with me. Her homestay wasn’t working out, and we have an extra room, so now I have get to have sleepovers every night!

Additionally, my little pet project has been my bike. I got it for super cheap on the Danish version of Craigslist, and for good reason. Though the frame is nice, the rear brake doesn’t work, it’s kind of a fixie because you can’t shift and it’s rusted as all get-out. However, I discovered this cool little company that offers a cross between spray-painting and powder coating and have been spiffing my chariot up a bit here and there. My end game is to sell this fixed-up bike at a profit when I leave at the end of the year. I may do a post about it, I may not. We shall see.

Finally, I bid you adieu so that I may pack for my next grand adventure. I’m off to the Norwegian fjords in the morning!

Hej Hej!

Phrase of the week:
Hvad siger du?
(Vah see-uhh doo)
Meaning “what did you say,” it’s a good way to get people to repeat themselves when your blank stares aren’t driving the point across. Can also be used in an exclamatory manner not entirely dissimilar to “whatchu talkin’ bout Willis.”

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