New Cookbook Diasporican Highlights The Rich History Of Puerto Rican Cuisine

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You may not realize how little you hear about Puerto Rican cuisine in the U.S. until you actually hear something about it. Amid endless discussions of the best Italian spots in your city, the best tacos, or the ultimate Korean BBQ, the diversity of immigrant cuisine in the country is often celebrated, and yet a group of millions of people whose history is so intricately tied to this nation and its culture often goes unmentioned (via Taste). It would be enough of a shame if this meant you never got to taste ensalada de pulpo, pernil, or asopao de pollo, but it also means Puerto Rican chefs and home cooks don't get to see their culinary contributions and traditions given the same respect as chefs who specialize in other cuisines.

It's all the more strange because Puerto Rico is, of course, a U.S. territory, and Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens. According to Pew Research, there are more Puerto Ricans living on the U.S. mainland than on the island of Puerto Rico itself, and they are the second largest Hispanic group in the country. That's why it's almost inconceivable that Illyanna Maisonet, author of the new cookbook "Disasporican: A Puerto Rican Cookbook," was somehow the country's very first Puerto Rican food columnist for a major newspaper. Thankfully, her new book published by Ten Speed Press is dedicated to giving Puerto Rican cooking and food culture the attention it deserves.

Diasporican combines original and traditional recipes with stories and history

Illyanna Maisonet was still a toddler when her parents left Puerto Rico for California. Growing up in the multi-cultural city of Sacramento greatly influenced her fusion style of cooking, which, as NPR notes, combines classic Puerto Rican dishes with her own self-described "Cali-Rican" creations like "Califas Shrimp," a dish of shrimp over polenta with Mexican chorizo and Indonesian sambal. "Diasporican," an ode to the Puerto Rican diaspora, who left the island en masse to come stateside, is the culmination of her journey. In its pages she shares recipes from her family as well as the food traditions of Puerto Rico's diverse culture.

According to Taste, "Diasporican" weaves its recipes with explainers on Puerto Rican cooking techniques and common ingredients and flavors. There is also a touch of memoir, with stories of Maisonet's life in Northern California and time at culinary school. Together, it is a personal, creative, and comprehensive portrait of how food touches people's hearts and lives. For anyone who loves Puerto Rican food, or who wants to make their first big introduction to it, Illyanna Maisonet's "Diasporican" will be an invaluable addition to your kitchen library.