Restaurants showcasing culinary dishes ahead of virtual Puerto Rican Day parade –

SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) — Hispanic Heritage Month kicked off on September 15.

This celebration coincides with the annual Puerto Rican Day parade held in Springfield. However, due to the pandemic, the parade will be held virtually this year.

Local restaurants in Springfield are also showcasing their top plates to highlight their culture ahead of the parade this Sunday.

“Food is pretty much a language that everybody understands,” said Jose Hernandez, owner of Palate Restaurant.

Local restaurants are shining the light on their cultural dishes ahead of Sunday’s virtual Puerto Rican Day parade.

This is part of the Semana de Sabor Cultural – or Week of Cultural Flavors.

Usually during the Puerto Rican Day parade, food trucks and vendors could line the street and offer some of the island’s favorite foods.

While this year the parade will be held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic, organizers from the event still wanted residents to enjoy some of Springfield’s Puerto Rican culture.

“We have reached out to different restaurants who would be interested in showcasing what they have to offer with regard to being a Latino-owned business and/or offering those Latino food and flavors,” said Victoria Ann Rodriguez, chair of the Puerto Rican Day parade.

Hernandez told Western Mass News he is showcasing a traditional mofongo dish and a top favorite pork chop dish.

“We use the plantain a lot. It’s a very special dish to us. It’s got to be made right for people to like it…It’s a huge pork chop, probably at least two pounds and it’s a beautiful dish and everyone loves it,” Hernandez explained.

For some delicious dessert that highlights on the Puerto Rican culture, we headed to Hot Oven Cookies. The owner and baker, Shelia Coon, told Western Mass News that she is showcasing the guava cheesecake cookie and coquito snickerdoodle.

“Coquito is like the eggnog of the Puerto Rican culture, the Caribbean culture. It’s like a coconut, rum, cinnamon beverage that we have around the holiday season…In our family, it was like – if your kid learned how to potty train, take out the guava and cheese. If someone gets married, you put the guava and cheese on a pineapple,” Coon explained.

Other parade participants were able to submit videos of their performances or any messages they wanted to share. These messages will be displayed on Sunday’s virtual parade.

“Giving words of hope to our community because of the pandemic, because of the hurricane, and just because we can’t be together this year,” Rodriguez said.

The virtual Puerto Rican Day parade will kick-off at 11 a.m. on Sunday.  For more details on how you can watch, CLICK HERE.