Culture

17 Typical Christmas Foods Eaten In Latin America

Christmas in Latin America is a sensual explosion. Bright lights, loud music, kids everywhere and lots of aromatic goodness wafting out of the kitchen. The big dinner with family is usually on Christmas Eve in most of Latin America but the festivities also tend to continue on for at least a week, eventually blurring into New Years. Here are 17 of the most popular typical Christmas dishes across Latin America to give you some ideas for getting creative in your own home this holiday season.

Tamales

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Tamales are a staple life throughout the year in many different countries in Latin America but they are also one of the most prominent foods of the holiday season. Many countries make special Tamales de Navidad for the Christmas season that are easy to stack up and share with family and friends that come visit.

Pannetone

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The Latin version of the holiday fruitcake, the pannetone is found in almost every home from Mexico to Bolivia and beyond come Christmas time.  If it looks similar to the Italian Christmas fruitcake it’s because it came from the boot-shaped peninsula at some point in time, but now it is enjoyed with hot chocolate on Christmas Eve all over the new world.

Roasted Pig

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Forget the turkey (for a bit anyway), slow roasted pork is the Christmas main plate of choice in much of Latin America, especially the Caribbean. In Cuba and many other neighboring countries, the Caja China is brought out for the occasion. This is a fast but efficient way to cook a whole pig in a matter of hours and keeps all the succulent juices in the meat.

Moros y Cristianos

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Literally meaning “Moors and Christians” this black beans and rice dish is also a staple of the Christmas time feast in Cuba and throughout the Caribbean. With a hearty lard base this creamy rich dish often becomes the star of the table!

Natilla

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Originating in Spain but now a staple of the Christmas season in Colombia and many other Latin American countries, natilla is a rich dessert made from milk. Thicker than a pudding and sliceable by knife it’s decadent and simple and usually served alongside other small eats.

Bacalao

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Especially popular in Mexico for Christmas eve dinner, bacalao is salted codfish that can be prepared in many different ways. Like most traditional Mexican recipes, Christmas bacalao includes some serious heat, in this case ancho chiles.

Turkey

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An animal that was actually domesticated by the Aztecs, turkey is just as big a part of Christmas in Latin America as it is in the USA. Countries like Peru have their own al horno styles and recipes for cooking this super fowl that include local herbs and spices that really bring out the flavor of the meat.

Buñuelos

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These deep-fried fritters take different forms depending on where you are in Latin America. They are flat in Mexico for example but round as a ball in Colombia. But they are always a part of the Christmas festivities no matter where you go – try them with a slice of natilla for something extra special.

Tostones

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Also known as patacones in some parts of Latin America, these double pan-fried plantains make for the perfect chip or tortilla substitute to use for dipping. Part of the Christmas tradition in many parts of Latin America, tostones are easy and cheap to make but the art of mashing them right must be mastered.

Arroz con Leche

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Everyone’s favorite Latin desert also has a special place for reserved at the Christmas Eve dinner table. A simple rice pudding spiced with cinnamon, this easy to make treat delights both the young and old.

Lechona

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To make this traditional Colombian dish, which reaches epic popularity during Christmas time, you need to first roast a whole pig. Then you take out all the meat, shred it, mix it with rice and other veggies and spices, and then re-stuff the crispy fried skin. The result is heaven on earth.

Romeritos

Source: Twitter@LaComadre_MX https://twitter.com/LaComadre_MX/status/1067549880824918016

An indigenous tradition from the south of Mexico, romeritos are now a part of Christmas time feasting all over the country. Although they resemble romero (rosemary) they are actually a native wild plant known as seepweed.

Coquito

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Originally from Puerto Rico, this alcoholic beverage is similar to eggnog but with a distinctly Latin flair. Made with coconut milk, eggs, rum and vanilla, coquito is now enjoyed in many different countries around the world come Christmas time and can pack quite a punch!

Christmas Salad

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The Ensalada de Navidad is important all over Latin America but the Andean countries like Peru take it to whole new levels. Bursting with bright colored veggies, heirloom potatoes and utilizing local specialties like quinoa or huancaina sauce, Peruvian Christmas salad can often substitute for the main dish, especially for vegetarians.

Mashed Yucca

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Source: Twitter@lifegoals4me

Even though potatoes are of course from the Americas, many countries actually use the yucca as a starch just as often. Mashed yuccas are a Christmas time delight in many countries in South America, and their hearty fibrous texture blends well with a wide variety of sauces and seasonings.

Canelazo

Source: Twitter@AndreaObaid https://twitter.com/AndreaObaid/status/739962021853138944

Popular in both Ecuador and Colombia, the canelazo is a hot herbal infused and alcohol-spiked drink made to warm up the body and ward away colds and flus. During Christmastime, canelazo is served on every street corner in cities like Quito and Bogota, which are high up in the Andes, and it makes the perfect cold season pick me up for the North American winter as well.

Cake de Ron

Source: Twitter@Ensalpicadas1 https://twitter.com/Ensalpicadas1/status/940575183840169984

This Cuban sponge cake cooked with rum and then served to the delight of all every holiday season in this island nation. Topped with a bit of ice cream cake de ron becomes a decadent treat that packs a bit of buzz-inducing punch as well.

Anthony Ramos Recalls Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Advice About Not Having To Change How You Speak

Entertainment

Anthony Ramos Recalls Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Advice About Not Having To Change How You Speak

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The 92nd Academy Awards were filled with unexpected wins and losses. However, the red carpet was home to some of the most memorable moments of the night. One moment that really stood out was Anthony Ramos telling Ryan Seacrest one of the first bits of advice Lin-Manuel Miranda gave him.

Anthony Ramos dazzled on the red carpet at last night’s Academy Awards.

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Oscars.

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Ramos and his fiancée Jasmine Cephas Jones stunned on the red carpet with their looks. Ramos and Jones got engaged in December 2018 after knowing each other for three years as costars on the wildly successful “Hamilton.”

During his interview with Ryan Seacrest, Ramos recalled a touching moment he had with Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Seacrest asked the rising star about his time spent working with Miranda and Ramos had a touching story ready to go.

“Lin told me a quote one time,” Ramos told Seacrest. “I cracked a joke and I was like, ‘Ah. That’s kind of hood. I should probably change the way I speak.’ Lin said, ‘Papa, you never need to change the way you speak. You just have to make sure that people understand you.’ I’ll never forget that quote.”

Ramos added about the authenticity Miranda draws from him: “Just be honest. Just be who you are and be honest and he just kind of let me do my thing on set.”

The advice is something so many people of color can relate to and appreciate.

Credit: @XxNess_ / Twitter

Whether it is sounding hood like Ramos said or speaking with an accent, our voices have been made to feel less than. Miranda’s advice is something so many people could have used when they were younger. There is nothing more empowering than owning every part of your identity and your voice and accent are part of that. There is nothing wrong with sounding like your background as long as you make sure everyone else can understand you and who you are.

The moment is reminding fans how much they care for Ramos’s and Miranda’s relationship.

Credit: Mali Worrad / YouTube

A quick search on the Internet will show you the kind of friendly love between the two entertainers. Miranda has spent time in his own career to uplift the upcoming actor. During the awards ceremony, Miranda called Ramos a movie star giving a nod to the highly anticipated performance by Ramos in the upcoming “In The Heights” film.

Who else is excited to see this bromance grow this year?

Credit: anthonyramosofficial / Instagram

It is these kinds of those friendships that we want more of. Thank you for showing off that Latin excellence while uplifting each other. That’s the kind of energy we need to take into 2020.

READ: Trailer For ‘In The Heights’ Is Finally Here And It Looks Like A Latino Fairytale

Shakira’s Song ‘Whenever, Wherever” Reaches No. 1 After Her Super Bowl Performance But Latinos Have Always Adored Her

Entertainment

Shakira’s Song ‘Whenever, Wherever” Reaches No. 1 After Her Super Bowl Performance But Latinos Have Always Adored Her

Columbia / Instagram

As the youngest in five, I rarely had the chance to travel alone.

How could I? With a paranoid mom and a closed-off dad, it was hard to ask for permission to venture out on my own. Sure, I had traveled a lot including abroad but I was either always with a family member or close friends. One year, my friend Sandra and I ventured throughout Mexico — a country I had never discovered on my own. When I was younger, I mostly stayed in the state of Nayarit because that’s where my family is from. So I never had a reason, or the courage, to learn more about the surrounding states in Mexico.

That was until my friend Sandra introduced me to a magical city, right in the center of the country.

queretaromex / Instagram

She had studied in Queretaro, Mexico, as part of her study-abroad program in college. I felt a little ashamed that someone like me — a proud Mexican Latina — had never been there, let alone any other state outside of Nayarit.

She took me there years later when I was 25 and fell in love with this incredible historic city — and sequentially someone else too.

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One night — at a club — I saw a man, unlike anyone I had ever seen before.

Think of a Mexican version of John F. Kennedy Jr. He was dapper, preppy, and totally hot.

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Completely out of my league too — or so I thought.

I didn’t think I’d ever see him again, but the following night we returned to that same club and there he was, but this time at the table next to ours.

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I coyly started dancing with him because why not? We ended up dancing the entire night together and I felt like I was literally floating.

Being there, in Queretaro, among local Mexicanos, listening to their music — unfiltered and unAmericanized, I had never felt that alive in my life.

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This is when I discovered so much incredible Latin music like FobiaCafe Tacuba and Shakira.

I should rephrase that. I discovered Spanish-speaking Shakira years after she had released her 1998 album “Dónde Están los Ladrones?”

The album catapulted her into a Latin superstar and I was in awe of her rocker chick vibe.

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While I loved my individuality as an alternative Chicana, I sure didn’t embody the independent woman I longed to be.

Even though I expressed a love for Spanish rock music, I was in a lot of ways very shy.

DaddyIssues / Instagram

But Shakira’s album made me feel different.

The song that truly moved me on that album is called “Si te vas.”

At first listen the song comes off as a ballad but it’s much more of a painful rock song that happens to be about a loss of love — as most songs are.

However, in this track, Shakira’s angst is infused throughout it just by the way she vocalizes certain aspects of the words.

shakixfan / Instagram

But this is my favorite part:

“Si te vas si te vas si te marchas

Mi cielo se hará gris

Si te vas si te vas ya no tienes

Que venir por mi

Si te vas si te vas y me cambias

Por esa bruja pedazo de cuero

No vuelvas nunca mas, ya no estaré aquí.”

But back to my imaginary love story. His name was Antonio.

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And he was an architect that lived in Queretaro. I was infatuated, to say the least. After our night of dancing, we went on a couple of dates, and one, in particular, that is too steamy to get into.

Soon after I returned to California soon after still on cloud nine.

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But that’s all it took.

I really thought I was in love with this Mexican heartthrob.

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When I returned to my real life, Antonio and I kept in touch.

We emailed, talked on the phone, and in my head, I was already scheming about how to go back to see him.

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I didn’t know how I would go back to Queretaro, but I knew that I had to. What I felt for Antonio was undeniable and I wasn’t going to let anything get in my way.

I didn’t tell anyone about my plan.

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I would just sit in my room — yes, I was a 26-year-old that still lived at home — and listened to Shakira’s album and think about Antonio.

One day it hit me. I would save money, enough for three months’ worth of rent, and move to Queretaro.

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I talked to my parents about it and simply said: “I need to get away and just write.”

My parents didn’t fight with me over the plan.

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I secretly think they just wanted me out of the house. And so I saved, and saved, and saved, every penny I could get my hands on. When I finally had enough, I bought a one-way ticket to Mexico City. I don’t even remember being scared.

I just remember having a direct plan and listening to my Shakira playlist.

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It didn’t feel like I was alone either. When you’re traveling alone and listening to music, it’s like your famous friends are there right there with you.

I stayed at the most picturesque house in Queretaro and didn’t even tell Antonio that I was coming to town.

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Yes, that was probably a mistake, but I didn’t care to hear anything negative. I guess underneath I knew what I was doing was kind of nuts, but love makes you do crazy things. When I did tell Antonio that I was in town, he said what I was dreading:

“You didn’t come here for me, did you?” he said.

“No! Of course, not. I came to write,” I said quickly.

“Oh, that’s good, because I have a girlfriend,” he said.

I think at that moment my body went numb because I don’t remember feeling sad or angry, just kind of in shock.

“How long have you been with her?” I said. I should note that it had only been a few months since I had last seen him.

“Always,” he said. “I’ve always been with her.”

The next couple of hours were a daze, but I cried myself to sleep that night. Here I was in Queretaro, all alone, and three more months to go. The next morning, I got up early, turned on my Shakira playlist and went for a run.

Credit: Araceli Cruz

Even though I was sad about the fact that Antonio had a girlfriend the entire time we were together, I realized how special it was that I was in this amazing city.

For the next three months, I did write.

I wrote a lot in fact, and I also met someone else.

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That relationship didn’t go beyond my time in Queretaro, but I loved knowing that heartbreak would not be the end of me.

The joy of being alone in Queretaro and doing exactly what I had envisioned all on my own was all I needed.

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Even now when I listen to “Si te vas” I never feel sad about Antonio, just pure happiness that I did something pretty extraordinary and have memories that will last me a lifetime.