What is Boricua Soul?

Boricua (bôˈrēkwə) – From the Taíno name for Puerto Rico, Boriquen Boricuas were the natives who lived in what is known today as Puerto Rico. Puerto Rican Boricua means “Brave and noble lord”. Borinquen means “Land of the brave and noble lords”.

Soul “food” – a variety of cuisine popular in African-American culture derived from food cook by slaves in the Antebellum South with West African, European and Native American influence. The term may have originated in the mid-1960s, when soul was a common word used to describe African-American culture.

Toriano was born and raised in Connecticut by his Grandparents and despite the New England zip code, the kitchen was situated well south of the Mason Dixie Line. During the Great Migration when millions of southern blacks made their way to the northern states, his Grandmother made her way from Andersonville, Georgia and Grandfather from Hillsborough, North Carolina. They brought with them hundreds of years of culinary history, techniques and ingredients. On any given Sunday, she could be found keeping watch over a stove packed with southern classics like, collard greens, cornbread, fried chicken, sweet potatoes, chitterlings, ham, baked turkey and more. Sunday afternoon dinners were more than cooking big meals for the sake if, it but carrying tradition and habit passed from the early Africans brought to America.

Serena was born in Queens New York to a Puerto Rican mother and multi-cultural father (African-American/Italian American). With that background and the backdrop of cultural melting pot of New York City, Serena was exposed to many strong cultural influences with the Puerto Rican culture having a strongest imprint. When our lives came together, Serena would share stories of different dishes from her childhood; pastellios, tostones, pernil (roasted pork shoulder), Relleno de Papa and I would cook them and love the flavors. Naturally I began blending some of the classic dishes from both of our grandmother’s tables to make unique and tasty dishes.

Mixing and experimenting with foods and techniques of our grandmother’s kitchen’s led us to many thoughts, discussion and learning about two very different cuisines with similar roots. Both cuisines were the by-product of mixing of West African, Native Indian and European ingredients and techniques as a result of the African slave trade. These foods tell the story and act as a vehicle to transport history from the past

We are Boricua Soul and this is a place to discuss, share, experiment and celebrate our food while also discovering how the mixing of African, Indian and European culture has affected various cuisines in all of the Americas.


Our logo is based on the African symbol Sankofa which means to “return and get it”. This symbol signifies the importance of learning from the past and we used it because it speaks to exactly what we hope to do through food, learn from the past. Enclosed inside the Sankofa are the flags of United States of American and Puerto Rico

We welcome you to our Boricua Soul.

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