There are certain words that originated in Africa that have been incorporated in the Spanish language spoken by Puerto Ricans. Many of these words are linked to Puerto Rican cuisine. Such words as guineo (bananas), gandules (pigeon peas) and quingombo (okra) are examples. These fruits, beans, and vegetables came to the Antilles and Central America in the ships used in the slave trade.
If you shop in a vegetable or food store in the Latino/a community of Chicago, you will find these products. They are exported from the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Guatemala, etc. Two other words, malanga (which can have brown skin with white or purple flesh) and ñame (which can have brown skin with white flesh), are both root vegetables that can be found in Africa. Sometimes they are used in the preparation of sancocho, a thick and hearty soup that is eaten across the Caribbean and Latin America, which vary with numerous ingredient variations depending upon the country.
Puerto Rico has a very distinct way of preparing this soup. Specifically, those from the countryside of Puerto Rico may use very particular ingredients such as root vegetables, breadfruit, plátanos, white potatoes, and corn in this traditional stew.
Quingombo (okra) is boiled by itself. It can also be combined with codfish or a meat dish. Others may fry okra and use it in yellow rice. The gandules (pigeon peas) are used to make arroz con gandules (yellow rice combined with pigeon peas).
Arroz con gandules is called the national dish of Puerto Rico. This rice is also served in the Antilles of the Dominican Republic and Barbados and its preparation may vary depending upon the country.
When making rice and gandules, a special sauce (sofrito) is used. This is what gives it the delightful taste. According to the historian Jesús Omar Rivera (El Boricuazo), the sofrito is also linked to the continent of Africa.