Cultural Capsules

  • The Arabic Connection: Tacos Árabes, Kibe and Lebanese Immigration in Mexico
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    Have you been to an authentic Italian restaurant lately? Ever had authentic Yucatecan food? In the mood for authentic Cuban lechón? Every time I see or hear the word ‘authentic’ used to describe a cuisine I can’t help but to have a slight smirk on my face, because, simply stated, when it comes to the creation of a cuisine, this Continue Reading...
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  • Lenten Gastronomy in the Spanish-speaking World
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    If you grew up in a Latino family you will recognize many of the following dishes: Fish, Tortas de Camarón con Chile Colorado (Egg and Shrimp patties with Red Sauce), Calabacitas (Zucchini), Caldo de Queso (Sonora’s signature Cheese Soup), Verdolagas (Purslane) and other greens*** are among traditional Mexican dishes. Many simple peasant dishes throughout the Spanish-speaking world consist of adding greens Continue Reading...
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  • A Time for Play, a Time for Sacrifice: a Brief History of Carnival and Lent
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    In our contemporary culture, where daily addictions abound on just about anything from indulging in too much chocolate, shopping, or junk food, it’s hard to conceive of a time when vices were actually permissible, at least for a brief time. The period I’m referring to, of course, is Carnival!* Whether we conjure up images of elegant masks of the Venetian Continue Reading...
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  • From Grapes to Rompope, Here’s A Glimpse of New Year’s and Culinary Traditions
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    The intimate connection between holidays and food has existed and endured throughout time in all cultures. These culinary rhythms accentuating the holidays are especially true for Spanish-speaking cultures: tamales and Christmas, the Rosca de Reyes (ring cake) and the Day of the Epiphany (commonly referred to Three Kings Day), Capirotada (bread pudding) and Lent, are just a few to keep Continue Reading...
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  • Día de los Muertos – Mexican Day of the Dead Celebration
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    Día de los Muertos brings back many fond childhood memories for me — from the making of sugar skulls to the annual bus ride to Evergreen Cemetery in East Los Angeles for the night time procession.  Sometimes, when people of other cultures hear for the first time about the celebration of the Day of the Dead, they mistakenly think it Continue Reading...
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  • This Little Piggy Went to America*
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    *(These articles use the term ‘America’ as synonymous with the American continent, and not just another equivalent of U.S.A. When possible, we will use the term U.S. or U.S. Latinos when being specific to the U.S.A.) One of the greatest food exchanges in human history occurred after 1492, the year Christopher Columbus made his first voyage to the Caribbean. The food Continue Reading...
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  • The Delectable Avocado
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    Yet another fruit from the Americas! First the sinful orb-the tomato-then the dirty orb-the potato-now the testicular one: the avocado! Yes, avocado in náhuatl, the language of the Aztecs is , ahuacatl, which means testicle or ball sack, a direct reference to the way avocados hang –at many times as a pair of orbs- that evidently reminded the ancient Mexicans Continue Reading...
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  • The Origin of the Potato: The People’s Food
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    You’re thinking Idaho, right? Or Ireland? Neither one! Like the tomato, the potato, too, is originally from the Andean region of South America, where more than 5,000 varieties are cultivated! A Peruvian farmer’s market may sell up to 30 varieties of spuds ranging in color and shape from purple, orange, spotted, banana-like, and a few that, literally, look like hand Continue Reading...
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  • Cultural Capsule: The Origin of the Tomato
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    By Contributing Writer: Norma Vega Every wonder where the first tomatoes originated? These plump fruits (yes, fruits, not vegetables!) grew wild in the Andes region of South America, but it wasn’t until they reached the central region of Mexico that the Aztecs began to cultivate them into the round, fleshy summer edibles we now recognize them to be. The Aztec Continue Reading...
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