A Puerto Rican Cookbook

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Pub Date Oct 18 2022 | Archive Date Dec 07 2022

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JAMES BEARD AWARD WINNER • Over 90 delicious, deeply personal recipes that tell the story of Puerto Rico's Stateside diaspora from the United States' first Puerto Rican food columnist, award-winning writer Illyanna Maisonet.

“A delicious journey through purpose, place, and the power of food that you won’t want to miss.”—José Andrés, chef, cookbook author, and founder of World Central Kitchen

ONE OF THE BEST COOKBOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Saveur, Smithsonian Magazine, Delish, Vice

Illyanna Maisonet spent years documenting her family’s Puerto Rican recipes and preserving the island’s disappearing foodways through rigorous, often bilingual research. In Diasporican, she shares over 90 recipes, some of which were passed down from her grandmother and mother—classics such as Tostones, Pernil, and Arroz con Gandules, as well as Pinchos with BBQ Guava Sauce, Rabbit Fricassee with Chayote, and Flan de Queso.

In this visual record of Puerto Rican food, ingredients, and techniques, Illyanna traces the island’s flavor traditions to the Taino, Spanish, African, and even United States' cultures that created it. These dishes, shaped by geography, immigration, and colonization, reflect the ingenuity and diversity of their people. Filled with travel and food photography, Diasporican reveals how food connects us to family, history, conflict, and migration.
JAMES BEARD AWARD WINNER • Over 90 delicious, deeply personal recipes that tell the story of Puerto Rico's Stateside diaspora from the United States' first Puerto Rican food columnist, award-winning...

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Featured Reviews

I love that this book has a lexicon that is a part of the recipes. Anyone looking to learn more about Puerto Rican Heritage, recipes, flavors, and spices used in traditional cooking will find the presentation and explanations of the recipes will want this book.

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In Diasporican, you'll find historical accounts and nostalgic recipes. These recipes were a blast from the past reminding me of my grandmother’s recipes. While yes, each family and even individual person has their own version of these recipes, the ones in this cookbook are as authentic as they get. Having made a few, the instructions were clear and easy to follow. The end result was full of flavor and good memories. This cookbook is highly recommended!

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Diasporican is so much more than a cookbook. It is a history of Puerto Rico, an ode to family, and a memoir of growing up with your feet in two worlds, an ancestral home, and the home created in the place you grew up. To me, the best food is rooted in nostalgia. A meal that transports you to a different time in your past, and recreates a moment or a memory. Illyanna Maisonet does an excellent job in capturing this magic of food in Diasporican.
With humble, soulful and often instinctual recipes, the stories around each dish creates a great sense of belonging. Whether it’s traditional and well known mofongo, more complex lechón or a cheeky bastardization of strawberry shortcake, every recipe is oozing with heart and teaching us about the importance of our heritage.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Even if many of the recipes are ‘brown on brown’ it gives the world a little more colour having spent time in Maisonets’ Puerto Rico.

It inspires to both learn and cook the recipes in the book, as well as recreate that one dish that your (in my case) Belgian grandmother recreated upon moving to Canada in the 1960’s, maybe not the original or better thing, but because it’s the one you grew up with and the one made with love that you loved, is honestly the best thing in the world.

So many cookbooks are lost in the technical processes, I am so glad that Maisonet stayed true to her roots and heart with this, it made the journey so enjoyable and inspiring!

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I cannot call this a cookbook. It's equal parts history, photography, and recipes. So gorgeously written and laid out. I love the way that Maisonet builds your knowledge, providing the history behind food, giving you the base recipes for items you're going to need along the way, before digging into the meals. The arepas de coco quickly became a favorite for my family, served along side the Puerto Rican Habichuelas and Mojo Braised Chicken. The seafood recipes make me long to live closer to the sea with its bounty of crab, shrimp, fish, and more. I am going to enjoy slowly working my way through Maisonet's history, stories, and gorgeous recipes.

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A touchingly personal exploration of Puertorrican cuisine with beautiful photography and mouth watering recipes. A must for avid cooks and foodies.

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There are formatting issues on my Kindle version but the photos and recipes looked delicious and were easy to follow!

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This book takes you on a journey into the heart of Puerto Rico and the journey is wonderful. This is not a cuisine I have encountered much before but I'm excited by this book enough to give the recipes a try.

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A dream come true. I have been a fan of Illyanna Maisonet's writing for a while now and am over the moon that this cookbook is coming out so soon. There is no doubt in my mind that cooking recipes from this book will make me a better cook and I am grateful for it. It has exceeded my expectations. While I am personally a pescatarian, I enjoyed reading and learning about the pork and beef recipes just as much as the others. Highly recommend!

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I absolutely adore this cookbook. Maisonet does not mince words to describe everything from her history to techniques. I especially enjoyed the one titled, "Washing Rice and Why the 2:1 Ratio is Bullshit." Her raw approach completely immerses you and helps you indelibly understand what she aims to teach about Puerto Rican cuisine. I can't help but also appreciate the great lengths she takes to research the history behind the food speculating on the origination of achiote oil, for example, or the debate on whether the pigeon peas (or Gandules) come from Africa or India. The recipes follow in a similar thoughtful, intentional vein. I cannot wait to try one of her seafood dishes - the califas shrimp and the halibut with mojo isleno in particular are calling out to me. The recipes range from simple to intricate and a well balanced variety of all to appeal to every comfort level of home cook. Honestly, so many of the dishes have names and ingredients that are new to me that I wouldn't know where to start a recommendation. But Maisonet has made all of these dishes feel approachable and comforting so I have no doubt that I'll enjoy every second spending my time getting to know them. I would highly recommend getting the book for yourself or the cookbook lover in your life. It's one not to be missed.

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Let me start by saying that I am part the target audience for this. My dad grew up near San Juan, but was never able to afford to go back or to take me to visit. The recipes in this book take me back to things that taste like his nights to cook. It is a reminder of a food culture that is mine, but that I haven't been able to explore as much as I would want. The recipes themselves are easy to follow and fully solid on flavor. The writing introducing and explaining those recipes reads like an energetic friend showing you how its done. I got this as an ARC, but I'm going to be buying it for my cookbook collection too.

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I loved everything about this book! Cooking is one of my main hobbies. I was excited to read this as a person who loves cooking as well as being a half puertorican who knows next to nothing about being puertorriqueña. I loved the way the author gives a brief history of the island and her people to explain how some of the most popular foods in Puerto Rico came from colonization. Full of authentic recipes this is a comprehensive guide to puertorican cooking(especially if your family moved to the West coast like mine and the authors). This book was a unique look at the struggles of being puertorican in the mainland and it made me order some of the crucial ingredients I’ve been missing as well as planning on cooking arroz con gandules(with chicken) for dinner tonight! I cannot recommend this book enough to other Puertoricans as well as anyone who wondered about the little island south east of Florida.

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I received an electronic review copy from the publisher and here are my thoughts.

This book features Puerto Rican dishes along with much background on the ingredients and their history and use in Puerto Rico. The recipes, which often are prefaced with a personal story, appear very authentic and even include a recipe for roasting a whole hog.

If you enjoy cookbooks that are part cookbook, part memoir, you will likely enjoy this one.

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This gorgeous book is equal parts cookbook and memoir- wow! I enjoyed reading about the historical context of foods (both grown in and imported to) Puerto Rico and the importance of staples such as rice and corn. I learned so much as an American-born Puerto Rican and am excited to do some more reading to deepen what I've learned. In particular, I really enjoyed the chapter on cooking traditions and why we do what we do when we cook. It made me reflect on my own childhood experiences watching abuela cook in the kitchen, clean the meat, and wash the rice. Thank you to the publisher and author for the ARC copy of this beauty. Congratulations Illyanna! This book is a trail blazer!

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Diasporican: A Puerto Rican Cookbook is a culture and history lesson, meticulously annotated, with recipes curated by Illyanna Maisonet. Due out 18th Oct 2022 from Penguin Random House on their Ten Speed Press imprint, it's 256 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats.

I learned a lot reading this book; about maritime trade, the history of Puerto Rico (often brutal, poverty stricken, and touched by injustice and racism), food security, resilience, and more. In addition to the understated pride and clear-sighted realistic memories of learning to cook under challenging conditions amidst generational poverty, the author provides more than 90 authentic (family) recipes.

The recipes are arranged thematically: frituras (fried), beans soups & stews, seafood, poultry, pork, beef, rice & other grains, salads & sides, and sweets & drinks. Recipe ingredients are listed bullet style in a sidebar with measurements in imperial (American) units, followed by step-by-step cooking directions. The author is generous with translations - I had no trouble understanding terms or ingredients.

Some of the seasonings and ingredients were unfamiliar to me, and will require access to an international grocery or specialist grocery, but many/most of the ingredients will be easily found at any grocery store in North America. The recipes are appetizing and the serving suggestions are attractive and portions are generous. Nutritional info is not included.

The photography is a standout success - lavish, in full color, and plentiful. About 20% of the recipes are accompanied by photos. There are also many location photos in the book, showing Puerto Rico and the people who live there as well as the diaspora who have emigrated.

Five stars. This is a very well written cookbook and a love letter to the culinary traditions of the island.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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As a fellow Puerto Rican, I was truly compelled to view this cookbook. I loved Illyanna's reasoning to write this book and share these family recipes with the world. It is true a lot of cultures are emerging, and people are losing their recipes and traditions., as well as coming together and making new ones. I have not truly read or used many cookbooks in my life, but I can truly say this one was really easy to follow. I also really enjoyed how some recipes came with a story behind them. I did wish sometimes it was a bit more written out for someone like my sister that would need a bit more direction. It was still a cookbook we needed that was meant to be shared with the world.

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First off, I LOVE food! All kinds of food and the culture behind certain recipes and traditions. Diasporican was a fun book to read about the history and what goes behind the puerto rican dishes. I have several recipes that I have pulled from the book to make at home with my children. This was an exciting book and I will be purchasing a hard copy.

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Illyanna's voice really shines through this book — she writes like she's talking directly to you. I loved the tidbits about her family and about Puerto Rican history throughout the cookbook and learned a lot! As a newcomer to this cuisine, I had to flip back and forth to cross-check some terms I couldn't remember and wish there were some more footnotes at the beginning to help with some of the vocabularies.

Other than that, loved how straightforward these recipes were and how they connected with each other (ex. the Turkey recipe that then led to a leftovers recipe). I wish there were more photos of the dishes because it sometimes felt hard to visualize what the final product should look like or what the technique should be to form the bread for example, but this also could be because this is a sample of the book and not the final copy. Overall, I love that we now have a Puerto Rican cookbook to add to the masses of French, American, etc. cuisines that live on everyone's bookshelves!

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Long have i looked for a new Puerto Rican cookbook- my collection consisting of Daisy Martinez- so to find out that there was a new Puerto Rican cookbook coming out- and that it was being published by Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed- arguably the most exciting and beautiful cookbook publishers in the business, needless to say, I was excited.

This book helped bridge the gaps of my own knowledge about the cuisine- I learned from my husbands grandmother that to make pink beans you mix sofrito and a small can of tomato sauce- but I had never realized that this could count as a “Puerto Rican red sauce”- opening up new avenues for cooking. I also appreciate the homemade Sazon and Adobo seasonings, as the packaged types can be abundantly salty. And- truly, Illyannas bacalaitos look way better than my grandmothers-in-law ever did. The recipe that really got me excited though, was the rolled cake guava Brazo Gitano with Burge Road Cherry Cream Filling.

I do think this book does require a great deal of knowledge to start with to understand what recipes should look like and comparisons- for example, one recipe headnote states that “macabeos…look like a crescent shaped alcapurria” and the next recipe says that “alcapurrias are essentially deep fried pasteles.” I have a vague concept already of a lot of Puerto Rican meals, but as Puerto Rican food is not as well known as it deserves to be, this book may not be especially beginner friendly for those looking to get a toe in. The explanations do leave something to desire, as the recipe for Granitos de Humacao starts off as “ My cousin and I drove from San Juan to Humacao to consume granitos de Humacao at a local granito factory. You can find granitos de Humacao only in…Humacao.” Further reading leads one to believe that it is some kind of rice fritter with cheese, but i do wish there was more of an explanation of the and what it looks like and tastes like..

On the picture front, one picture has the most gloriously beautiful cans of Coco Rico I’ve ever seen- my favorite soda to pick up with some empanadas (my husband is more of an Inka Cola person). The pictures in the book are beautiful, and look delicious- the cover image of the book didn’t really appeal to me, whereas the pictures of the seafood and the fritters *chefs kiss*. The meat recipes is where this book really shines, with the Carne Guisada, Pepper Steak, and Jibarito recipes looking delectable. Ultimately, I’m happy this book exists, as I hope it inspires and begets more Puerto Rican recipes!

Thanks to Netgalley and Ten Speed for my ARC!

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Diasporican is a gorgeous, extensive cookbook with wonderful, mouthwatering recipes. I loved learning about cooking in Puerto Rico and how dishes originated and evolved. I strongly recommend this one!

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing an ARC of this book. All thoughts are my own.

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I recently went looking for Puerto Rican cookbooks at my library, and there really weren't any. I feel like their cuisine often gets lumped in with the generic Caribbean, and it's time for Puerto Rican cooking to have a modern cookbook of its own. This one had everything I was looking for and more.

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Diasporican is much more than a cookbook. It's filled with vibrant and heartfelt stories of the people and culture of Puerto Rico.

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