What better way to start a blog called “Comida Studies” than with a photo of a Puerto Rican meal? Rice with corned beef, french fries and ketchup, topped with home-made pique (hot sauce – not shown)… This was my lunch. I digest this as I write these first words. As I do, I think of this seemingly traditional meal. My husband cooked this. The corned beef came from Uruguay. The rice – not white, but brown, long-grained – came from India and Thailand (two different bags). The “Carne Bif” is cooked with organic cherry tomatoes and home-made sofrito (made in someone else’s home). As my body metabolizes this meal – this comforting, flavorful, calorie-dense meal – I can’t help but wonder, how can we call this a traditional Puerto Rican meal?
This simple lunch represents globalization, a combination of organic foods and conventional, ultra processed foods, a commentary on changing gender roles, and a questioning of how this dish can be traditional when none of its components have roots in Puerto Rico, or even the Spanish Caribbean. This dish, served in a modern rectangle platter, represents the many complicated issues we seek to address across multiple disciplines – nutrition, food studies, food policy, agriculture studies, just to name a few. It is then quite fitting as an aperitif to this space, to open the conversation with an unknown cyber audience, to share emerging ideas for a greater understanding of the many complicated issues this comida represents.