Eating Puerto Rico

A History of Food, Culture, and Identity

By Cruz Miguel Ortíz Cuadra

Translated by Russ Davidson

408 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 17 figs., 5 tables, notes, bibl., index, glossary

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-2997-1
    Published: August 2016
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-0884-6
    Published: October 2013
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-4236-7
    Published: October 2013

Latin America in Translation

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Available for the first time in English, Cruz Miguel Ortíz Cuadra's magisterial history of the foods and eating habits of Puerto Rico unfolds into an examination of Puerto Rican society from the Spanish conquest to the present. Each chapter is centered on an iconic Puerto Rican foodstuff, from rice and cornmeal to beans, roots, herbs, fish, and meat. Ortíz shows how their production and consumption connects with race, ethnicity, gender, social class, and cultural appropriation in Puerto Rico.

Using a multidisciplinary approach and a sweeping array of sources, Ortíz asks whether Puerto Ricans really still are what they ate. Whether judging by a host of social and economic factors--or by the foods once eaten that have now disappeared--Ortíz concludes that the nature of daily life in Puerto Rico has experienced a sea change.

About the Author

Cruz Miguel Ortíz Cuadra is senior lecturer in the department of humanities at the University of Puerto Rico, Humaçao, and author of Puerto Rico en la olla, among other books.
For more information about Cruz Miguel Ortíz Cuadra, visit the Author Page.


"[Ortiz Cuadra] is a man dedicated to understanding and exploring the precise spot where food and history intersect en la isla del encanto." —NBC Latino

"Charming and learned . . . [but] also bittersweet. . . . One ends up wondering whether, finally, the question has to be: 'Who really determines what choices are available?'"--Sidney W. Mintz, Gastronomica

"As much as Oriz Cuadra succeeds in demythologizing the basic staples of Puerto Rican cuuisine by explaining how rice, benas, cornmeal, codfish, beef, and pork arrived on the island and how they became as popular ad they did, he also skillfully deconstucts the category of "Puerto Rican" into multiple populations defined by gender, rural vs. urban, literacy and education levels, laboring class, immigrant or island-born, government vs. private sector, and colonizer or colonized, among others." —American Historical Review

"Cruz Miguel Ortiz Cuadra's innovative methodology relies on primary sources, such as menus at religious convents, hospitals, prisons, and public schools; home economics class records; and cookbooks. The book is an important contribution to the social and cultural history of the Caribbean and may also be fruitful as a primary source for studies of colonialism, Third World poverty, and underdevelopment."--The Historian

"Well translated. . . . Recommended. All levels/libraries."—Choice

“A great resource for scholars focusing on food in the Caribbean.”—Food, Culture and Society: An International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research