Puerto Rico’s African Influence And Culture, And How To Experience It

Parker Diakite • Travel Noire

There’s no denying Blackness in Puerto Rico. Vejigantes are an integral part of annual festivals. Pasteles are eaten every Christmas. Bomba and Plena are considered traditional Puerto Rican styles of music and dance. These are all things that would not exist without the influence of African people in Puerto Rico.

While the contributions made by people of African descent are often overlooked in Puerto Rico, their cultural contributions to the island are significant.

In fact, several popular Puerto Rican dishes date back to African influences including mofongo, bacalaitos, and pasteles. 


“Some of Puerto Rico’s mouthwatering delicacies date back to our African roots and are favored among the locals as well as tourists visiting the island,” said local Chef Ecuajei. “Africans transformed the ceramic cooking tool used by native Tainos to make casaba (yuca-based flatbread) into an iron griddle called “burén.” The tool is used for cooking coconut-based candies wrapped in banana leaf, mofongo, mondongo, sancocho, coconut rice, pasteles, empanadas, and many plates they brought to the Puerto Rican culinary culture.”