Last spring, while eating and drinking my way through the Saborea Culinary Extravaganza in San Juan, Puerto Rico, I started to wonder: What does saborea mean, anyway? Locals’ answers—“to taste,” “flavors,” “tasty, you know …”—all expressed the experience of something so delicious it couldn’t be pinned down with words. On my last day there, feeling well-fed and content, I think I got it: Saborea means tasting joy, a sentiment that sums up Puerto Rico’s diverse cuisine.
That cuisine is thriving—with new twists. Passionate chefs include Giovanna Huyke, who, inspired by her vegetarian daughter, now fuses traditional dishes like chicken and rice, empanadas, sofrito, and mofongo with lighter techniques and ingredients.
“I’ve been working on developing our recipes and flavors in healthier ways,” she says. “I’ve made a lot of changes, but I refuse to lose any taste in my meals.” Delight in her creations that feature Puerto Rico’s sweet-savory balance of Spanish, African, Caribbean, and American influence.