You haven’t heard from us in a while because as soon as our KS campaign ended, we were on a plane to ‘La Isla del Encanto!’ Yesterday we (Dan, Vivian and we brought on my cousin Ivan as a translator) set out (in a taxi) to meet and eat the food of Maria Dolores de Jesus, also known as Lula. Without our driver (who ended up being a natural tour guide/navigator/translator/diplomat), it would have been nearly impossible to find Lula’s establishment in the town of Loiza. However, we stopped several times to ask for directions and everyone in the area would stop us during our explanation of what we were trying to find…”You’re looking for Lula, right?!” Everyone knew who she was.
Doña Lula reminded me and my cousin of the elder women in our family, and so did her property. It strongly resembled the campo of our family and once the establishment started to fill up and the happy conversations layered upon the background music…it turned into a very intense moment for me. Doña Lula stands in campfire smoke all day, everyday, making amazing pre-Spanish delicacies on a metal plancha-like cooking surface that resembles something the Taino cooked on, fueled by wood and coconut husks.
She was warm and welcoming. Openly showing us her technique and ingredients (and cookbook). We ate, took photos and just hungout under the awning of her outdoor kitchen.
It turned out to be worth the money and the hunt. It turned out to be quite a magical moment for me. Everyone was really friendly, but then we heard someone had just gotten shot a few days before right in front of a frituras spot we stopped at. So, while everyone is extremely friendly if you’re on your P’s + Q’s…they don’t play if you make a misstep. Make of it what you will.