Esta página no está disponible en español.

Boricua Thanksgiving: Now We're Talking Turkey…Puerto Rican Art Heritage… New Smits Hit: Broadway Is Actor's Latest Stage…`Discovery Of Puerto Rico' Celebrates Island's Culture

Boricua Thanksgiving: Now We're Talking Turkey


November 12, 2003
Copyright © 2003
N.Y.P. Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved. 

ROASTING the Thanksgiving turkey as if it were a lechn, suckling pig, has been a Puerto Rican tradition since the island adopted the holiday, but the name for the delicacy, pavochn, doesnt ring many bells here.

The term pavochn - a corruption of "pavo," meaning turkey, and "chn," from the word for roast pig, "lechn" - is unfamiliar to so many in New York because it is relatively new here, according to Mili De Brown, an ex-New Yorker living in Puerto Rico.

She operates , a Web site thats a mine of information about the food and lore of Puerto Rico.

De Brown says that suckling pork reigns supreme as the meat of choice to celebrate winter holidays. Cooking the turkey to taste like roasted pork, therefore, is what many Puerto Rican families do on this very American holiday.

"We needed to make the big bird taste Puerto Rican, taste like a real celebration, taste like he belongs on our table," De Brown says.

"So we give the turkey the same treatment as the pork - and, baby, were cooking!"

A traditional Puerto Rican Thanksgiving menu will include the pavochn (see recipe below), relleno para el pavo (a stuffing of different meats, raisins, olives and peppers), arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas), guineitos en escabeche (marinated green bananas) and dulce de leche (the wonderful caramelized milk dessert).

The secret to the Latin turkey, De Brown says, is in the rub.

Weigh the turkey and multiply the following ingredients by the total number of pounds.

De Brown recommends putting an ovenproof dish filled with water, flat beer or wine alongside the turkey while roasting it, in order to keep the pavochn extra juicy. Remove the liquid a half-hour before the turkey is done, and continue baking it to crisp the seasoned skin.

Recipe for Pavochon

The secret to a tasty Puerto Rican turkey is in the rub. Corbis

Puerto Rican Art Heritage

November 12, 2003
Copyright © 2003
The Hartford Courant. All rights reserved. 

An exhibit of Puerto Rican posters is underway at the Widener Gallery at Trinity College. It is as much an exposition of pivotal island history as it is art.

More than 50 years ago, the Division of Community Education within Puerto Rico's Department of Education hired a group of young unknown painters to design posters aimed at solving the island's health problems. Instructive images, displayed all over the countryside, urged residents to boil their drinking water, vaccinate their children and eat nourishing foods.

Money was scarce. So the head of the graphics section, an artist named Irene Delano, used the silk screen process to print the posters. Silk screening or serigraphy is cheap and labor intensive. But the resulting prints are bright and long lasting.

Little did the education department realize at the time that it had created the incubator for much of Puerto Rico's graphic arts tradition in the 20th century. The posters became immensely popular. They expanded to take on more diverse themes -- imploring residents to work together for shared goals; publicizing cultural and political events; and paying tribute to Puerto Rican customs and history in an effort to build national pride.

Most of the original pioneer poster artists became the masters of Puerto Rican graphic expression. Today their canvasses hang in the world's finest museums. The group includes giants, such as Rafael Tufino, Lorenzo Homar, Antonio Martorell, Carlos Raquel Rivera, Carlos Osorio and Ms. Delano's husband Jack. The posters have become costly collector's items, an art form.

Trinity's exhibit runs until Dec. 9. The gallery is open Sunday to Friday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. and is closed on Saturday. The display mixes several of the early posters with some of the classics. It's too bad that the gallery can only fit about 30 of them. The show offers a great lesson in Puerto Rican art and heritage.

New Smits Hit: Broadway Is Brooklyn Actor's Latest Stage


November 12, 2003
Copyright © 2003
N.Y.P. Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved. 

JIMMY Smits cuts a striking figure when he first appears onstage in the Pulitzer Prize winning "Anna in the Tropics."

All eyes are on the 6-foot-3, Brooklyn-born actor, impeccably outfitted in a custom-made silk and linen white suit, white snap-brim fedora to match.

Even in a Columbus Circle coffee shop over ham-and-egg sandwiches, tea and juice, Smits is striking, a head of thick dark hair and the tiniest touch of gray in his closely clipped goatee. polo shirt and slacks, a small black stud in his left ear, Smits says his Broadway debut is no big thing.

"Ive worked in theaters all around the country. Its just a different location," he says. And he seems to mean it. Known for his TV roles as Victor Sifuentes on "L.A. Law" and Bobby Simone on "NYPD Blue," the Emmy-winner walked away from both shows at the height of their popularity. Smits, 48, has been working at his craft since the day he quit the football team at Brooklyns Thomas Jefferson HS so he could join the drama club.

"I had to give up the jacket," he recalls of his varsity garb. "They were a championship squad, too. It was a big deal to quit." Smits went on to Brooklyn College and later earned a masters in fine arts from Cornell.

Smits has no regrets over quitting football or the TV shows, saying his career has "always been about doing different things." To that end, Smits has performed Shakespeare at the Public Theater and at the New York Shakespeare Festival. He lists "Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones" on his rsum. Hes acted opposite Grego-ry Peck and Jane Fonda in "Old Gringo."

But "Anna in the Tropics," by Cuban-American writer Nilo Cruz, is something special to Smits, the son of a mother from Puerto Rico and a father from Suriname.

"Its been over 15 years since theres been a Latino-themed drama on Broadway," he says. Smits plays a lector -- a reader -who comes to work at a family-owned cigar factory in Florida and reads Tolstoys love story "Anna Karenina" to the workers. The women at the factory swoon and the story onstage echoes the story in the book. In one steamy scene, Smits and his illicit lover are on the floor of the factory, his shirt peeling from his skin. As his breathless lover passionately caresses him, he continues toread "Anna Karenina" aloud. He says he was inspired from a young age by seeing plays.

"I saw Raul [Julia ] in four or five different Shakespeare plays. Here was a guy who was from the same place that my folks were from, who spoke with an accent, but who was totally in command of the language - just who he was." The other aspect of "Anna," which Smits says is that "it doesnt really wear its culture on its sleeve. But its very culturally specific - I didnt know this whole thing about cigar workers and lectors."

"But with the universal themes in the play, it could be about Irish factory workers, too," Smits says.

Jimmy Smits in the new Broadway show "Anna in the Tropics" which opens at the Royale Theater on Nov. 16.

`Discovery Of Puerto Rico' Celebrates Island's Culture

By PAUL CAVALIERE, Courant Staff Writer

November 20, 2003
Copyright © 2003
The Hartford Courant. All rights reserved. 

NEW BRITAIN -- Layered skirts of many colors are not standard dress at Slade Middle School - unless one is dancing the "plena," a traditional dance of Puerto Rico.

And that was the reason several Slade students were radiant Wednesday in the multicolored outfits. They were performing the plena to end the school's 11th annual festival celebrating Puerto Rican culture.

Students, teachers and families packed the auditorium for "Discovery of Puerto Rico: Music From Our Hearts." It was a chance for Slade students to convey Puerto Rico's history, culture, rhythms, dances and songs.

"I've been doing this for 11 years," said eighth-grade teacher Zoraida Soler, who started the event during her first year of teaching.

"Each year is a little different, and it gets better and better. Students come back and ask to be a part of the presentation," she said.

The presentation featured a dozen performances from Slade students and their parents, students from Smith Elementary School and Central Connecticut State University. The hourlong program was presented at 9 and again at 10:30 a.m. to packed houses.

Two parents and a former student were also on the program. Each sang a traditional song.

Soler started the "Discovery of Puerto Rico" program to explore the culture of Puerto Rico, homeland of many Slade students.

The event now includes students of all ethnic backgrounds, as well as former Slade students looking to help out.

"I don't turn anyone away," she said. "Anyone who wants to participate in the program, can."

Soler, with help from Slade Vice Principal Jenny Correa, was master of ceremonies. She introduced each presentation in both English and Spanish for the largely bilingual audience.

The program featured drumming on tom-toms, songs performed in Spanish by parents and a variety of dances. Adriana Marrero, a student at Smith School, recited a poem while images of Puerto Rico were projected on the wall next to the stage.

It concluded with a presentation of the plena, drawing a standing ovation.

Included in the program was a tribute to the late award-winning performers Tito Puente and Celia Cruz. Luis Colon, a former Slade student, played one of Puente's pieces on the timbales.

A group of current students, all dressed as popular Hispanic singers such as Marc Anthony and Gloria Estefan, sang Cruz's version of "Yo Vivire (I Will Survive)" as her performance of that song from the Latin Grammy Awards was projected on the wall.

Over time, the audience for "Discovery of Puerto Rico" has grown, and Soler is proud of that. "The community has been very responsive," said Soler. "We have a diverse group of people here."

Self-Determination Legislation | Puerto Rico Herald Home
Newsstand | Puerto Rico | U.S. Government | Archives
Search | Mailing List | Contact Us | Feedback