Meet Illyanna Maisonet, Author of Diasporican: A Puerto Rican Cookbook

San Mateo County Libraries is thrilled to welcome Illyanna Maisonet on Wednesday, March 8, at 6:30 PM. Illyanna will discuss her new book, Diasporican: A Puerto Rican Cookbook, before engaging with your questions!


Once you've registered, you'll receive your Zoom invitation to join us for a night of exploring food’s connection to family, history, colonization and migration.

A Unique Exploration of Puerto Rican History Through Food

What does it mean to write a Puerto Rican cookbook? For Illyanna Maisonet, that answer is rich, complex and layered in resilience and history.

“Diasporican” refers to members of the Puerto Rican diaspora, or those whose families left Puerto Rico. Maisonet explains that she and more than five million others are "Ni De Aquí, Ni De Allá”—meaning they are neither from here nor from there.

And indeed, Maisonet grew up in Sacramento, observing the way her grandmother prepared dishes like pavochon,, opens a new window a flavorful Thanksgiving turkey, and arroz con gandules,, opens a new window a dish of rice and pigeon peas, served with braised pork.

Now, after dedicating her career to chronicling Puerto Rican recipes, Maisonet has crafted a unique and personal book of recipes, essays and photographs. Her writing is full of bright humor and evocative detail, even as she doesn’t flinch away from histories of violence and colonization.

This all makes Diasporican the perfect book for readers hungry for both honest, immersive stories and sweet, fluffy mallorcas, opens a new window.

Get to Know Illyanna Maisonet

“She never doubts what she loves and cares deeply about preserving the flavors of her heritage. And it's from the women in her family that she learned the rule she follows not just in the kitchen, but also in life: ‘Be yourself. Sometimes that pans out.’” — Irene San Segundo, POPSUGAR, opens a new window

Illyanna Maisonet was the United States' first Puerto Rican food columnist for a major newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, and has hosted sold out pop-up dinners across the San Francisco Bay Area. An IACP award winner for narrative food writing, she has collaborated with José Andrés for Steven Spielberg's West Side Story wrap party, contributed recipes to Rancho Gordo, authored a crowdfunded cookbooklet and has written for the Los Angeles Times, bon appétit, Saveur, Food & Wine, Lucky Peach, Food52, Eater SF and more. You can also see her on the Rachael Ray Show.

Praise for Diasporican

“Each recipe is easy to follow, and each chapter is an education on Puerto Rican food and the colonial history that shaped it. Ms. Maisonet lets us into her own kitchen, alongside her mami and nana, sharing their resilience and care for one another. Diasporican reads like the best memoirs: engaging, educational and, at times, laugh-out-loud funny.”The New York Times, opens a new window

“This one-of-a-kind cookbook is highly recommended for its combination of island flare, little-known history, and tons of personality.”Booklist

“This book BRINGS IT: In voice, instructions, visuals, history, education, and hilarity—a decolonization of the cookbook world like few others.”Gustavo Arellano, opens a new window, author ofTaco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America