Mofongo, A Sensory Memory

Mofongo is the epitome of
Puerto Rican cooking.
It is smashed plantains immersed
in loads of garlic and
Puerto Rican soul.
It is salsa and ritmo. It is plena and
bomba… it is blackness
that lives in our food.
No matter the efforts of the
Spanish to erase the Boricuas,
to whiten them via colonialism,
mofongo, pasteles, and the
countless dishes are additions
to our culture and proof otherwise.
That subverts the notion and
attempts of blanquimiento.
Because this food tells a different
story from the dominant narrative.
 
Mofongo is made in a mortar
and pestle, en un pilón, with the strength
of pulsating hands and strong arms
of the matriarch, who grinds ingredients
together. In this friction, I listen to
the stories available.
This culinary process reveals the
whispers of our ancestors from the
coastal towns and mountainous
campos of the island, across the
Wide Caribbean Sea.
 
Mofongo is the taste of
smashed plantains immersed
in loads of garlic and salt
con chicharrones
epitomizing the
Puerto Rican soul.
It is the archipelago,
the smell of banana leaves
swaying under the sun.
It is diaspora. It is power.
It is an archive of taste and memory.
 
 

Keishla Rivera-Lopez is a poet, writer and scholar. She received a PhD in American Studies at the Graduate School-Newark at Rutgers University where she was a 2019-2020 Dean’s Dissertation Fellow. She was born and raised in Newark, NJ to Puerto Rican migrants and reflects on what it means to be a child of diaspora in her scholarship and writing. Currently, Dr. Rivera-Lopez is an Assistant Professor of English and Latinx Literatures and Cultures at Millersville University. Keishla enjoys writing poetry, short-stories, and essays from her travel and everyday experiences as a Puerto Rican woman. She also enjoys experimenting with different sazons and sofritos, hiking, dancing and traveling. Find her at https://twitter.com/Ohh_Kei

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