Adela la Adorada by Tessa Liebman
Top: “Adela at Caprice” Photo by © Marlis Momber: All Rights Reserved
In front of me, along a wall of racks of giant pots, is a small, discreet statue of the Virgin Mother above a fishing boat standing next to a municipally-mandated food allergy poster that I’m almost certain is tolerated only because the yellow matches the hue of the Hickory 6.5, the magical rotisserie that pumps out Casa Adela’s mania-inducing chicken. I am here on a mini-tour, conducted during a somewhat quiet hour of a scorching Tuesday morning. At this point in the day, Adela Fargas has been here for several hours. She is in every day at 5 a.m. to cook the pernil, a gorgeous hunk of pork shoulder that is lovingly massaged and therefore bears the very special toque, that touch that brings hordes of adoring fans to Casa Adela seven days a week from near and very far. This tour, both culinary and historical begins as most good Puerto Rican food does, with a sofrito. On the back left burner of a gas range sits a heavy iron pot with no handles, a stainless mixing bowl nestled on top. When removed it reveals what is left of the day’s sofrito; red and thick, as full of life force, purpose and very specific DNA as the blood running through our veins, it is the only secret Adela will admit to. She doesn’t have to mention the million others, which are not as tangible, identifiable or specific, but just as palpable and real.
Published on Latin Lover issue #03