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A story of religious persecution, female skirts and a few cocktails…
When you think of Yauco, you automatically think of coffee. The southwestern municipality has been known for ever for coffee production, mainly because of its Corsican roots, as by the mid 1800s of Corsicans and their families immigrated to Puerto Rico.
Yauco was known for its fertile lands and its topography was ideal for coffee, tobacco and sugar production. These three crops moved the Puerto Rican economy for man many years.
So when you get to Yauco you do not particularly think of pork chops, you think of coffee, and although it is still an important coffee producing municipality, I found something a bit more interesting, pork chops.
Our drive from San Juan was part of one of our children’s school project, but as with everything, we try to make the most of all trips and moments. So I had my eyes, nose and ultimately my taste buds ready in case a great adventure would come upon us and made us discover something great, indeed it happened.
We arrived at La Guardarraya a little bit after noon on a very beautiful Sunday. The restaurant is located on an ample 1900s style house with many windows and doors wrapped around a porch with views of the rest of the property. High ceilings and a tropical breeze that made no need for air conditioning.
The aromas of ingredients cooking and the plants of recao and oregano planted on the porch made me hungry instantly. As if I need a reason to eat.
It is called La Guardarraya because it sits right in the municipality lines of Yauco and Guayanilla, guardarraya means demarcation or limit.
The famous dish served here is the Chuleta Can Can, it is an impressive pork chop served with bone and grind, deep fried to perfection crispy in the outside and juicy in the inside. It is so familiar and yet so different.
I met the owner, the daughter of the founder, Doralissa Vera. As she explained, her dad was sitting around with friends drinking some cocktails and decided then he was going to open a restaurant in the gallera, a cock fighting arena, he owned, as his friend asked him to deep fry a pork chop with grind and bone in. The restaurant opened on July 3rd, 1959.
Can Can, like the skirt
So why the name Chuleta Can Can? Well, that’s a funny story. As Don Juan Vera fried the pork chops, the rind took a similar form of the layers of the Can Can Skirt very popular in those days all over the world and worn by many women in Yauco and the rest of Puerto Rico. It was the fashion of the moment and that name for the chop stayed and clicked with the clientele.
Pork in Puerto Rico
Pork is king in Puerto Rico. The island’s love for this meat is as old as pretty much much of its history. Christopher Columbus brought pigs in 1493 on his second voyage.
Pork was eaten by the Spaniards as a sign that they were Catholics. At one point in Spain the Jewish community was persecuted. Jewish people do not eat pork, so hams hanging in front of houses and establishments meant two things, that the owners or resident were Catholic and that Jews were not welcome there. Probably that is why pork is eaten on Christmas Eve and Day, as a sign of Christianity, I am not sure on that, but due to the Catholic traditions of Spain and how embedded that religion is in Puerto Rican history, it makes sense.
La Guardarraya is locate in Guayanilla but very close to the city limit with Yauco in PR Road 127 Km.6.0 (Old Yauco to Guayanilla Road). It has lots of tables, comfortable, friendly staff but not overwhelming, a great variety of Puerto Rican favorite dishes and drinks, (not just Chuleta Can Can).
If you liked this blog, buy me a coffee, breakfast, lunch or dinner! Maybe your meal will create another blog!