Santería and the City


Since Summer blogged about our trip to visit Lee in NYC, I thought I would follow up with ways I did stay Keto and/or Paleo on my trip (until I had pizza! I had to eat some NY pizza pie!). I have to say, I did pretty good until I went down the pizza road, then it was basically downhill from there.

I’m sure there are TONS of restaurants in NYC that suit our way of eating (NYC has everything!), however, we took a short trip so we didn’t visit many. Lee also cooked for us on a few occasions, but I didn’t take pictures of the food.

We went here a few times. It specializes in Puerto Rican and Dominican food. I love it! I wish I could eat there right now, but alas, it’s an 8 hour drive from my house.

These are proper pork rinds, not the dehydrated rinds you’ll find in a bag (although the bagged rinds make a nice snack or Keto breading alternative for savory dishes that call for flour). They are fresh pork skin with fat and fried up to deliciousness.


Dos huevos con salami y queso frito y mangu con cebollas. (English translation: Two eggs with salami, fried Dominican cheese, and mashed plantains with onions). One word: amazing.


Rellenos de papa (mashed potatoes w/ meat, then fried), Morcilla (Puerto Rican blood pudding), y Pasteles en hoja de pollo y pernil (a root vegetable based tamale type dish stuffed with chicken and pork shoulder). The blood pudding was one of the yummiest foods I’ve ever had!


Funny story. Summer’s son Kade didn’t finish his food. The place was really crowded and a group of defense attorneys came in with all their exhibits. I got to talking to one of them and let them know we were leaving and they could have our table and that the waitress would be by to clean it off shortly. One of the attorneys sat down near Kade’s plate and started eating the leftover food with his fingers! It was the funniest thing we’ve ever seen and I tried to get a video of him to post on Facebook. Sadly, I only got a video of him getting mad at me for filming him. Oh well. Here’s a screenshot of the video with his face blocked off (after all, I don’t want to be sued by this fella!). Perhaps he was working pro bono and couldn’t afford his own lunch.


Ethiopian food is one of my favorite cuisines! Neither Lee nor her husband Albert had ever tried it, so we decided to eat there when Albert got off of work.

We went to this very popular place in Harlem and it took forever to be seated and served. Lee’s husband has one of the best senses of humor, and after an hour of waiting, he said, “You come to this restaurant hungry and you leave starving!” He also made a play on the restaurant’s name, Abyssinia, as though the servers were like, “Here’s your menu, I be seein’ ya!” 😂

The food is served family style, where everyone’s order is atop a large piece of injera bread on a platter. Everyone can dig in and try all the food, or just stick with their own choices. I gobbled up the injera bread. For those who don’t know, injera is an unleavened flat bread made from teff flour. You use injera to grab the foods with your fingers. It has a spongy texture and tastes a bit like sourdough. Teff is gluten-free and high in fiber, so perhaps it is more Paleo than I realized. Albert, ever civilized, used a fork to eat, instead of his hands.


Fun Fact: The most commonly used eating utensils in the world are chopsticks. The second most commonly used, the hands! Western cutlery comes in third.

Sadly, the Ethiopian beer is NOT Keto nor Paleo. However, what else are you supposed to do while waiting to be served? They were such a hot mess over there that they only had one cold beer. The rest were lukewarm!


Heather (left) hoarding the beer because she was afraid it would be her only caloric source that evening. Lee (right) making sure Heather doesn’t drink all of them.

My last full day in NYC, Lee and Albert took me to the house of a priestess of Santería and ate a delicious dinner of leftovers from the celebration/ritual she had performed the night before. I didn’t get pics of the food because, quite frankly, I didn’t want to upset her! However Lee got pics of two of the altars (there were three altars altogether).


“I don’t practice Santería, I ain’t got no crystal ball…” ~Santería by Sublime


“Well, it’s love, that I need. Oh… My soul will have to wait…” ~Santería by Sublime


Fruit for the saints. Santería is a religion that is a mix of Catholicism and African religions. It started when slaves were brought to Puerto Rico and West Indies by the Spanish.

Lee took me to a small grocer in The Bronx and I bought a bunch of Puerto Rican spices so that I could flavor my food at home. Unlike in Mexico, Puerto Rican food doesn’t focus on sauces or heat. It focuses on putting flavor into the foods during preparation, so no added sauces are needed.


Now I need to learn how to make blood pudding!

All-in-all, we knew we would have a cheat/treat vacay in NYC, so I did pretty good until I succumbed to the pizza (and Ethiopian beer). We got back on track right away. Next time though, we will make a blog post about how totally successful we were eating Keto/Paleo in NYC and we will make sure to take tons more pics.


Santería and the City

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