- Puerto Rico
Game Changers: Moments that cause a significant shift in the way you currently think about something
When it comes to food, we’ve probably all experienced a few game changers — meals that have changed the way we previously thought about certain dishes. We are Sorted Food, a group of friends from London who head up a global community of millions food lovers. We use our community’s local recommendations to explore the world looking for exceptional food in exceptional places. In this series we are in Puerto Rico to discover what makes the island so special.
Experiencing the Local Culture
Over the last 10 years of travelling as part of Sorted Food, we’ve been lucky enough to experience more spectacular food than we could possibly write into a blog post, most of which has come from cities across the US.
But *how* we’ve found those food experiences has always been the most interesting part - by asking for recommendations from the locals, the people who know these destinations the best and can help us discover the real soul of town, city or area.
At no time is this more important than when travelling to a new place where the culture is so different from your own, as it allows you to escape the traditional tourist traps and find what really makes the place so great.
Which is exactly the situation we found ourselves in when heading to Puerto Rico in search of game changing experiences.
The colorful, cobblestone streets of Old San Juan
Without locals' recommendations, we never would have taken a 5.5 hour round trip across the island from San Juan to Ponce to find the most amazingly smooth and soft tamarind ice cream, from a shop called King’s Cream that is filled with locals queuing out the door for the majority of the 24 hours a day that it’s open!
Nor would we have known about the sensational Pork Highway, packed with stalls selling amazing spit-roasted pork. We went to El Rancho Original and had the best crackling we’ve tasted anywhere in the world. (If you’re not familiar with crackling, it’s essentially pork skin that’s been deep fried in fat to make it crispy.)
Normally we would not set out to trek up a mountain in the only official rainforest in the United States unless the locals had told us that the view at the top of the Mount Britton Trail was completely unmissable, and they were right!
We never would have expected to find a massive street party taking place on a Monday night in a quiet, suburban part of San Juan - with hundreds of people joining in with the live drumming, singing and dancing!
And whilst I’m sure we would have found mofongo, one of Puerto Rico’s signature dishes, on the menus of countless restaurants throughout the island, we’re not convinced we would have understood the significance or found the very best versions quite as easily as we did - the mofongo we had in El Jibarito in San Juan and Ajo Del Pais were just exceptional!
We honestly believe we saw a completely different side to Puerto Rico because we were guided by people who love the island and want to show off all it’s amazing qualities, sharing the sights, sounds, cultures and cuisine far better than we could have done by ourselves.
In essence, it took the risk out of travelling to a new place where the culture and language was unfamiliar to us - and instead made sure that every stop we made was a complete game changer.