"El Pilon"


 A Puerto Rican kitchen isn’t complete without a pilon. A pilon is a Puerto Rican wood mortar with a wooden pestle used as a kitchen tool to mash up ingredients. I can close my eyes and still smell the aroma of fresh garlic being mashed in my Abuela’s pilon. When I think of the pilon, I think of my Abuela, Ursulina, and the process of making sofrito, a paste used as a base for many Puerto Rican dishes or Puerto Rican pesto as I like to call it. Abuela would always make the sofrito in her home; in the kitchen with the yellow painted walls and the fruit decor. She would gather all the ingredients like green peppers, garlic, onions, cilantro, etc., and carefully prepare her mise en place. If you are from a Puerto Rican household you know not to be in the way of a Hispanic woman in the kitchen, so she begins to shoo everyone out of the kitchen so she can begin her work. She carefully would chop up all her ingredients, add them to the pilon and then add olive oil and begin to mash them all up with the pestle. When she wanted to make a large amount she would repeat the same process but use a blender instead of the pilon. Of course she would set aside a few jars to keep at her home for herself and then she would gift some for our begging family and friends. Until this day, she continues to make sofrito and for that I'm lucky to always have a jar of it in my fridge. 

Place(s): Puerto Rico

– LE

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant