At Yankee Stadium, béisbol is as American
as alcapurrias—those plump, golden-brown
plantain patties stuffed with seasoned beef.
It’s so from the sunken rye and bluegrass
sod field to the breeziest bleacher top.
With roughly thirty percent of United
States baseball players now of foreign-born
Hispanic heritage and the House that
Ruth Built smack dab in one of the most
established Puerto Rican communities in
the nation, large, hungry, thirsty crowds
have directed the market toward foods
that reflect fans’ cultural heritage. Inside
the to-be-hallowed limestone walls of the
new Yankee Stadium that opens this April
will be Salsa-on-the-Go concession stands
sponsored by Goya, New York’s fabled
Hispanic food company, where plantain
chips will supplant potato chips and guava
juice—not root beer—will flow.
The franchise got its start in 2007.
For an ethnic food manufacturer to have
secured real estate, not just in a new, statesponsored
stadium, but in the nation’s
most deified ballfield, means American
social identity has recalibrated itself, as
it has done for centuries, acknowledging
the economic power of a new group of
residents. Food at the ballpark is certainly
due for a change. Who has ever wanted watery beer and a flavorless gray hot dog
for twenty dollars?
Carmen Pilar Santos de Curran’s Alcapurrias
5 green plantains
1 pound yucca (also called taro
root or yautía)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small envelope sazón with
6-8 cups vegetable oil for
1/2 pound chopped or ground meat
(your choice of beef, pork, crab...)
1 cup tomato sauce
1 tablespoon sofrito
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 small envelope sazón
6-8 chopped brine- or oil-cured olives
(Spanish green olives are a favorite)
1 teaspoon capers
1 medium garlic clove
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon vinegar
Optional: 6-8 prunes, 2 teaspoons raisins
To prepare the masa: Peel the plantains and wash with salted water. Thoroughly
wash the yucca, then peel. Grate the plantains and yucca, then add the salt, vinegar, oil,
and sazón. Mix well and set aside.
To prepare the filling: In a deep pot, fry your meat until all red is gone. Drain
most of the grease and add the tomato sauce, sofrito, salt, sazón, olives, capers, garlic,
oregano, and vinegar. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover the pot. Cook
covered for 15 minutes; uncover and cook another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
To assemble the alcapurrias: On the palm of your hand or wax paper—or if you
are lucky enough to have them, plantain leaves—spread about 1-1/2 tablespoons of the
mixture and make a shallow well. Add 1-1/2 teaspoons of the filling (meat) mixture, and
cover the filling with the plantain mixture all around. You may fry the alcapurria or
store them in the freezer for later use.
To fry the alcapurrias: In a deep fryer or deep frying pan, heat enough vegetable
oil to cover the alcapurrias. Fry until slightly crispy. Drain the alcapurrias on a paper
towel, and let them cool.
Latin food concessions at Yankee
Stadium are impressive as a high-profile
corporate venture. Equally impressive is
the economic and cultural potency of the
family-run Latino concessions at weekend
pick-up games around the state, notably
the open-air marketplace at the Red Hook
Soccer Fields in Brooklyn, which for thirty-three
years has been serving up homemade
homeland favorites, from tangy Guatemalan
shrimp ceviche to crisp-skinned
Salvadoran pupusas. Food, often presented
through concession stands, remains a catalyst
for immigrants’ economic mobility and
It’s worth noting that—thanks to agricultural
activists like Sue More and Larry Bain
of Let’s Be Frank grassfed hot dogs—parks
and movie theater concession stands are
also starting to mirror their farming communities.
Makalé Faber Cullen recently completed
a three-and-a-half year fieldwork
assignment, documenting North
America’s agricultural diversity and
developing marketing campaigns in
support of artisanal food producers, for
the United States office of Slow Food.
She currently directs the social ventures
department for the Center for the Urban
Environment in New York City.
Modern American concession
stands have their origins with 1930s
entertainment entrepreneurs. During
the Depression, cash-distressed
theater owners shifted from prohibiting
snacks, drinks, and food
vendors to welcoming it all. Most
owners chose to concede—that
is, lease—parts of their property
to food vendors, rather than integrate
culinary ventures into their
This column appeared in Voices Vol. 35, Spring-Summer 2009. Voices is the membership magazine of the New York Folklore Society. To become a subscriber, join the New York Folklore Society today.
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