With a passion for writing, food, and law, our celebrity of the week, Paola Gabriela Zaragoza Cardenales, a law student in the UPR aspires to promote the culinary experience in Puerto Rico (while being allergy friendly, too!) with her popular foodie blog, Culinary Road Trips Puerto Rico!
CRTPR was created in 2010 during a conversation between father and daughter about the lack of blogs that reviewed local restaurants in Puerto Rico. During that time, Sal. pr didn’t exist, so they set off and created their own idea of what would later on be an incredibly successful website with a wide variety of recipes, reviews, and exciting road trip adventures written down for the curious tourist and the adventurous local.
But what, you may ask, makes this foodie blog so different from any other?
During the early stages of the blog, Paola discovered that she was allergic to gluten, lactose, and casein (the protein present in milk). “It was a total surprise for me,” she said, “I was a person that I would eat first then ask questions later. And now I have to do the reverse.” At first, she considered shutting down the blog, but decided to instead fuse her new diet with her passion, an idea that would catapult her blog to gain widespread attention.
“I found out a lot of food blogs that were like mine but in the United States,” she said, “their main focus was this menu that was allergy friendly and I was like, ok, I could make a focus like that. If the waiter or chef say ‘oh, I’ll do whatever you want,’ or if the menu says GF, Gluten-free, then I can put that their allergy-friendly.”
“One of my major goals is to help local businesses promote their work and their products,” she explained. “If they sell fresh produce and they want to make networks with chefs so they can have fresh produce from here. Also, to make or sponsor activities. The goal is to have a network of people who make the produce, sell things, and the people who buy it.”
Some of her greatest achievements include expanding their blog to include cooking, chef interviews; reviewing local businesses in San Francisco like Castilo de Amorosa, Berringer, Intercontinental Mark Hopkins, and Flavors of San Juan.
And despite initial difficulties, her family are the best motivators to help her keep going. Her amazing organizational skills are also a big factor to keeping her studies and blog up to date.
As for her future plans for her blog, she plans to create new activities and culinary events, new segments like gastronomical tourism, staying on budget while grocery shopping, and much more. “I’m planning to expand to videos,” she said. “I want to include chef interviews and cooking videos.”
For Paola, obstacles can’t stop her, for every problem holds the solution with good food and optimism!