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Um! That aroma in the air is from sofrito, a rich blend of native herbs and spices that fill every Puerto Rican kitchen. The scent and sounds of sizzling tocino, onions, ajíes dulces and recao makes your mouth water. Puerto Rican cooking is distinct, eclectic and varied using a combination of condiments that give our food that very special aroma and flavor.

Sofrito is the condiment combination that is the base of Puerto Rican cuisine. It is made using chopped onions, bell peppers, fresh garlic, ajies dulces, recao, tomatoes, recao and/or cilantro, and then it is fried in tocino or bacon fat with achiote for color.

Adobo is the traditional seasoning for meats. It is a powder made from crushed oregano, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Adobo is now found in many store shelves on the mainland.

Bottled sofrito and adobo are available throughout most of the United States although sometimes only at specialty stores.

A traditional Puerto Rican meal includes rice, beans, meat (stew), salad, and tostones (fried plantain slices). Rice is the most common and varied dish. Puerto Ricans are expert rice cookers and can teach the rest of the world a thing or two about variety in rice. Along with rice, plantains are the favorite side dish. In 500 years Puerto Ricans have never stopped inventing ways to cook rice and plantains.

Traditional desserts often include coconut and guava. Other traditional desserts include flan, arroz con coco, coconut bread pudding, and besitos de coco.

A typical breakfast consists of Puerto Rican café-con-leche and buttered, toasted, french bread. The strong aromatic, café-con-leche is Espresso. Coffee is enjoyed by children as well as adults.

Café-con-leche is also the center of the traditional daily mid-afternoon, three o'clock, "coffee break" enjoyed by everyone, whether at home or at work - weekdays and weekends.

Foods are usually cooked in a caldero, the traditional cooking pot, used for cooking rice and other foods in Puerto Rico. They are durable and excellent heat conductors, meaning cooking is more efficient and less costly. The lids seal in heat and steam, keeping meats, rice, and stews moist while cooking.