Cultural Culinary Identities

This will be a photo that has portraits of the featured people and their dish, maybe in a checkered pattern. OR maybe just photos of the different dishes.

My story starts here. An introduction to my basic concept, subject, my personal connection and reason for doing it. This will include: my personal connection to food and the environment, my passion for sustainability, cooking and learning about new cultures, my inspiration for this story idea (the anthropology of food course that I took in Italy), a general overview of how food is more than a means to survive but how it is connected to culture, customs, heritage, etc, and then a brief introduction of the people featured in this story. You’ll need some fake text here to indicate a paragraph.

Ana Sofia Mongil | Habichuelas Guisadas

Ana is a 22 year old Marine Biology student at Northeastern University from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Ana Sofia Mongil is a 22 year old female who was born and raised in San Juan, the capital city of Puerto Rico. She is currently a rising fifth year at Northeastern University completing her Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology who wants to pursue a career in veterinary medicine, following the footsteps of her father who is also a veterinarian. Ana and I became friends during our third year of college when we both took the same photography class. Ana _____ finish intro.

Ana pictured on my back porch, July 2022.

When I asked Ana about a dish that she feels reminds her of home and her personal cultural identity, she ___. Growing up in Puerto Rico her childhood meals were often full of Hispanic and Caribbean cuisine. One of the dishes that she ate frequently was Habichuelas Guisadas, which translate to Puerto Rican rice and beans. ____

Habichuelas Guisadas is a classic staple in Puerto Rican Cuisine that can be found in most dinner courses. Traditionally, the dish consists of dark red kidney beans simmered in a tomato and sofritos based broth and seasoned with sazon, adobo and culantro and can be served a caballo (beans on top of long or medium-grained white rice) or stewed together (as in mamposteao). Everybody prepares Habichuelas Guisada differently, leading to many variations which include the use of pink or pinto beans and the inclusion of potatoes, pork, green Spanish olives and and/or green pigeon peas. The flavorful and aromatic dish is commonly served as a side to make a delicious accompaniment to meats, poultry, and seafood, along with other Puerto Rican dishes including fried plantains, sliced avocado, and picadillo (beef stew), but it can also be served as the main. In Ana’s family, this dish is prepared with Pumpkin rather than potato, does not include Spanish green olives or green pigeon peas and is usually paired with (type of) fish, making it a frequent staple food in her household. Her family also prepares ___.

The historical roots of this classic Puerto Rican dish and Puerto Rican cuisine more broadly come from a unique blend of Taíno, Spanish, African, and American influences. Locals refer to the Puerto Rican cuisine as Cocina Criolla, which translates “Creole cooking” and is distinguished by its principal cooking styles and ingredients. While many people would associate “Creole cooking” with the cuisine of Louisiana, the Spanish speaking island nations of the Caribbean use the term Criollo for Spanish Americans of European descent. Cocina Criolla can be traced back to the practices and ingredients of the Taíno, who were an indigenous people of the Caribbean and native to the island of Puerto Rico. The Taíno had a diet that consisted of various seasonings and ingredients including maize (corn), beans, tobacco, nuts, seafood, coriander, apio (celery), yampee and tropical fruit such as nispero, papaya and cacao. With the arrival of Columbus and the Spanish in 1492, olive oil, garlic, bacalao, cilantro, pork, beef, rice, and wheat were incorporated into the local diets of the island. The Spanish also began to plant sugarcane and import slaves from Africa who brought plantains, coconuts, okra and taro (known as yautia in Puerto Rico) as well as a cooking technique which would become central to the Puerto Rican Cuisine: frying. Over the next generations, the various ingredients and flavors of these ethnic groups on the island began to fuse together to create the exotic blend of the Puerto Rican cuisine today. This is why Cocina Criolla has its name; it is the cuisine that arose from the mingling of Spanish colonial traditional recipes made with native Caribbean and African foods and cooking styles.

[Pictured Right]: A village of Taínos in Puerto Rico, also known as yucayeques. (photo via, [Pictured Left]: Christopher Columbus and his crew arriving in the Caribbean 1492. (photo via

Puerto Rican rice and beans is a perfect example of Cocina Criolla. One of the main ingredients, beans, is a crop that were systematically planted by the indigenous Taíno. The base of the stewed beans is Sofrito, a hallmark of flavoring introduced during the Spanish Colonial era and is used for the base of most Puerto Rican dishes. Sofrito is a purée of fresh onions, cubanelle peppers, garlic, cilantro, ajices dulces, cilantro, culantro, red pepper and tomatoes which gives the Habichuelas Guisadas its distinct and uniquely Puerto Rican flavor. The preparation of the rice, which was also introduced during the Spanish Colonial era, uses African influences by cooking it “upwards in a pot” as opposed to horizontally like Spanish paella. The blend of these various ethnic ingredients and cooking methods has led to this unique aromatic and delicious Puerto Rican dish.

Ana pictured with the Habichuelas Guisadas we prepared together.

[Section about what Ana had to say about it]. Talk about any changes the person’s family has made to the dish, when they would eat it, any cultural significance.

“Pull quote from the filmed interview”

This will be a 1–2 min video of the filmed interview with spliced audio over some shots of the cooking process. This will not be a step by step cooking video, rather it will be a quote highlight video with aesthetic shots of the dish.

This section will be about the persons connection to the dish and why they chose it. It will discuss what they think about culture and how they think of food. This will be the bulk of the written section. Should I write in first person POV and describe what they say with quotes and summaries or should this be all direct quotes?

“Pull Quote”

Repeat the section above for every person.

This section will have the charts with food comparisons, or if any other data comes up.

Maybe some simple background on the person here (Ex: 5th year student at Northeastern studying ___ or Employee at ___)


About Nicola and how I know her here.

Sana Kareem



Here are the recipes for each of the dishes, with step by step directions from each of the featured people.

Habichuelas Guisadas (Puerto Rican Rice and Beans)

Picture on the left will be a list of ingredients, picture on the right will be a picture of all of the ingredients laid out before cooking.

Step by step directions here:

  1. Step one
  2. Step two
  3. Step three
  4. etc.
Audio clip of the featured person giving any tips on how to prepare the dish.

Versunkener Apfelkuchen:

Repeat section above.

Aloo Paratha:




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