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Of Mama and Puerto Rican Pasteles

I admire my mother ~ immensely.  From when I was 5 years old, she raised six children all on her own. I don’t know how she managed it but I’m amazed whenever I think about it.

I had two boys to raise, a full time job, responsibilities at church and the normal every day tasks. With all of that, I regret not spending more time with my boys so I can only imagine what my mother felt like.

Mama never worked outside the home (at least not until the youngest had graduated from high school).  She always said this was her way of putting her children first. So, with a monthly welfare check, help from Catholic Charities and even more help from her sisters who lived nearby, we always had clothes to wear and food to eat ~ even if the food was oatmeal for breakfast and dinner ~ something which is still a treat for me to this day.

But Mama was not idle. One of the things she did to help our family was go door to door selling Puerto Rican pasteles that she made from scratch.  She would spend hours grating the plantains to make the “masa” (dough).  By making pasteles, she was able to supplement her welfare check and get us a few extra niceties like cookies.

When most people see pasteles for the first time, they mistake them for tamales.  They are quite different though ~ made from green plantains and filled with your choice of meat, sliced olives, onions, spices and whatever else you want to put in them.

Nowadays, people make the masa for the pasteles in a food processor so it’s easier and less time consuming.

Once they are made, the pasteles are wrapped in banana leaves then wrapped in aluminum foil.  They are then cooked right away or frozen until you’re ready to eat them.

Puerto Rican Pasteles

Puerto Rican Pasteles

Recently, I found out that a woman in my mother’s neighborhood makes them so I ordered two dozen.  I’m not sure if they are paleo ~ only because I don’t know what kind of oil she uses.  But the plantains and all the other ingredients are paleo.

Puerto Rican Pasteles

Puerto Rican Pasteles

Puerto Rican Pasteles

Puerto Rican Pasteles

Here’s a closer look ~ they don’t look appetizing but they are scrumptious.

Puerto Rican Pastel

Puerto Rican Pastel

The ones I ordered had shredded chicken and green olives along with different spices the cook used.

Puerto Rican Pasteles

Puerto Rican Pasteles

My mother is not the most sophisticated woman on earth.  She doesn’t speak fluent English, couldn’t set a table with the silverware in its proper place, nor can she balance her checkbook.

But those things were, and still are, irrelevant to a little girl who just needed to feel safe and loved.

Mission accomplished Mama!

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