Puerto Rican food has its origins in the cooking traditions and practices of Caribbean, Spanish, African, and the indigenous Tainos and last but not least the United States. They have found a way to combine all the best qualities of these cultures’ food to make its own.
Like many Latin American countries the staple is rice and beans. The tradition of cooking complex stews and rice dishes in pots such as rice and beans is most likely European in origin. African slaves introduced the deep-frying of food. Coconuts, coffee (brought by the Arabs), okra, yams, sesame seeds, pigeon peas, sweet bananas, plantains, other root vegetables and Guinea hen, all come to Puerto Rico from Africa. The tropical climate in Puerto Rico allows delicious fruits, vegetables and coffee to flourish.
Lunch and dinner generally begins with sizzling-hot appetizers such as bacalaitos, crunchy cod fritters. Soups are also a popular beginning for meals. Meat pies (pastelón de carne) are the staple of many Puerto Rican dinners. Salt pork and ham are often used for the filling and are cooked in a caldero. This medley of meats and spices is covered with a pastry top and baked.
Desserts usually include some form of flan (custard) or perhaps "nisperos de batata " (sweet-potato balls with coconut, cloves and cinnamon).
As regards drinks, the local coffee is world famous and rum is the national drink.. The island also produces high quality beers.