Live the tradition of the Caldo Santo in Loíza
SAN JUAN — El Caldo Santo, a soup infused with coconut milk, fish, and viandas, is one of the distinctive dishes of Puerto Rican cuisine during Holy Week.
In the past, as a coastal town, Loíza’s economic activity came from fishing and agriculture of underground tubers or stems, such as sweet potatoes, yucca, yautía, yam, malanga, and celery.
Seafood and sweet potatoes were never absent from the Loiceña table, with fish heading the average menu. The Caldo Santo is a delight to the palate that is a legacy of Loíza families. From bridge to bridge, El Caldo Santo has been part of the domestic kitchen in Parcelas Vieques, Suárez, Tocones, Colobó, Vacia Talega and other communities in the Piñones region of Loíza.
In her book, “El Burén de Lula: Cocina Artesanal,” María Dolores de Jesús, better known as “Lula,” from the Jobos district, in Medianía Baja, details that the Caldo Santo recipe consists of coconut milk, marinated and fried pieces of fish without thorns, and small chunks of pumpkin, sweet potato, yautia, green bananas, green plátanos without skin, sofrito, salted to taste and achiote seeds that substitute for tomato sauce.
María Dolores de Jesús’ procedure, according to her book, published in 2011 by Terranova Editores Inc., suggests:
- Boil coconut milk in a cauldron
- Color the milk with achiote seed
- Add sofrito
- Add the fish
- Add the viandas, except the pumpkin
- Mix and add salt to your liking
- Cook over low heat until the viandas are tender
- Add the pumpkin and cook until it softens.
Lula learned the recipe from her mother, Marcia—the trunk of the family tree of three generations of artisans at the stove in the Jobos district of Medioriaía Baja.
First Festival of the Caldo Santo
On Sunday, March 25, starting in the early morning of Palm Sunday, will be held the First Festival of the Caldo Santo at the María de la Cruz Cave Historical Park on PR188, next to the Ricky Martín Foundation’s TAU Center in Loíza.
“We invite the families of Loíza and other people to join us during that family day and learn about other features of our culture, in this case about gastronomy,” said Mayor Julia M. Nazario Fuentes.
A jury of experts, led by Chef Mike Pereira and experienced Chefs Carmen Sánchez and José Lacén, among other personalities, will evaluate the dishes made at the festival.
“For only $5, people will be able to taste the ‘Caldo Santo’ and participate in our workshops on bomba dance, headdresses (turbantes) and beekeeping. It will be a family day in which our musicians will delight us with their talent,” the mayor said.
For additional information, interested parties should contact the administration at María de la Cruz Cave Historical Park at 787-996-5765 or 787-527-7404.