Saturday, January 17, 2009

Festival del Pastel

This past November el Festival Nacional Del Pastel was held in the town of Orocovis here in Puerto Rico. This is the 8th year of the Festival and the first year that I attended. I decided to go with my parents and my brother quite spontaneously, thinking maybe I would get to at least see some of the beautiful scenery of the Island not expecting much from a Festival I had never heard of. A pastel is something like the Puerto Rican version of tamales but using plantains, some people make it with rice instead of plantain. It is usually eaten during the Holidays but can be eaten any time of the year, for me it is not Christmas unless I eat roasted pork and pasteles with some morcillas (blood sausage). To get to Orocovis one has to drive a relatively short trip through the Ferré Expressway and interior small roads of the Island that curve from one side to the other as if dancing around the mountains.

Upon arriving there was the task of finding a place to park and knowing my parents this would take a while since they can be quite paranoid and constantly think everyone is trying to rob them, but to my surprise they parked in the first parking lot they found. Once we walked for a few minutes we finally arrived at a small parking lot where the Festival was. Even though it was a small humble affair it turned out to be quite fun.

The sky looks so blue in Puerto Rico during the cold months.

Pique is the preserve of spicy ajies (hot tiny peppers) in vinegar and oil with garlic and oregano and other herbs. It is used as a seasoning in soups, stews and meats, but can be used in almost everything you might want to make spicy. Pique Mi Madre is one of the best I've tasted, being very hot and savory at the same time.

Green papayas. They are used green to make Dulce de Lechosa a kind of sweet preserve that tastes deliscious with some white cheese.

Green plantain, perfect to be eaten boiled or as platanutre, the Puerto Rican version of potato chips.

Puerto Rican candy: Dulce de coco a candy made with coconut and hard caramel are the small round ones in red (dulce de coco covered in strawberry candy), pink (with guava), white and brown (with coffee) in the back; dulce de ajonjoli made with sesame seeds are the squares at the left; to the right is pasta de mango or mango paste, something like quince or guava paste but with mangos; in the front left is the candied dried friuts in hard caramel; Dulce de almendras or almond candy is in front, kinda like peanut brittle; and to the front right is more Dulce de coco.

Dulce de coco.

Lady serving a nice platter of Arroz con gandules (Rice with Pigeon peas).

This man was sellind that weird can with the rooster on top. When you pull the string it makes a sound like a rooster. Me and my brother heard it and thought they had live roosters in the festival and ran towards the noise excited about it only to find the man with the can.

Güiros. Typical musical instrument that is played by scraping thelined part with a kind of metal brtush, made from higueros, a type of gourd.

Maracas with the Puerto Rican flag and Taino Indian drawings.

Santos de Palo are traditional artesanal wood carving of saints and virgin marys.

The Festival del Pastel has a website that has more information and its history:


Anonymous said...

Buenas Lorena!

Really enjoy your blog! Gracias! I have a question...being on the island already maybe you know or can find out for me.

I used to eat a cookie as a little girl that I can not crack my head to remember the name now. PLEASE! HELLLLLPPPPP. This is driving me crazy!

It was a large cookie and it was dark brown...similar in color to the Cuca but it was soft in texture not hard.

It was also quite thick and I'm not sure but I remember that maybe it had coconut.

It was soft but a little on the dry side and on the outside I remember it leaving my fingers a little sticky. Its flavor was mild.

Sound familiar?????

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