Last week I was at my friends engagement party. There was plenty of food, but there was one item in particular that I could not stop eating. To me, it reminded me of zongzi, a popular Chinese food that consists of glutinous rice filled with meat, and wrapped in a bamboo leaf. Of course, this definitely was not zongzi as most of the food at the party was heavily Puerto Rican. The mysterious packs off food were wrapped in parchment paper and a banana leaf, with strings too keep everything securely wrapped. What kind of tastiness was waiting for me inside? First, I removed the string that secured the leaf. Next I removed the parchment paper, and finally, I peeled back the banana leaf, revealing a mass of…a mass of… what was it? Heck if I knew at the moment. It was so good I didn’t even bother asking what it was called. I leaned over to the girl sitting next to me and asked. She said, “they’re called deliciousness.” Well, she was no help what-so-ever. I ate my second one before I asked my newly engaged friend what they were called. “Pasteles!” He said.
Pasteles are popular in a number of Latin American countries and the ones I ate were brought to the party by the groom-to-be’s father from Puerto Rico. The mushy part, known as masa, was made from plantains and cassava. The inside was filled with chicken, and I think another one I ate contained pork. I ate three by the end of the night and had to hold myself back from eating one more. I can’t wait to stuff my face with these again.