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

Source: Twitter@IrazuChicago https://twitter.com/IrazuChicago/status/1067440891101511680

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

Source: Twitter@chefheidiLA  https://twitter.com/chefheidiLA/status/1065256621457104897

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

Source: Twitter@EpicuristasMx https://twitter.com/EpicuristasMx/status/967864015430012928

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

Source: Twitter@ChefSilvaa https://twitter.com/ChefSilvaa/status/982122956380766210

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

Source: Twitter@NataliaRoldanD https://twitter.com/NataliaRoldanD/status/1066837674504396800

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

Source: Twitter@caracoladacom https://twitter.com/caracoladacom/status/809809249945665536

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

Source: Twitter@EstiloVidaPeru https://twitter.com/EstiloVidaPeru/status/674997459521810432

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

Source: Twitter@linulera https://twitter.com/linulera/status/1067365133687640064

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

Source: Twitter@LaTanaRest https://twitter.com/LaTanaRest/status/1067445757849026563

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

Source: Twitter@VmeTV https://twitter.com/VmeTV/status/1067465879309484035

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

Source: Twitter@Yanquillero https://twitter.com/Yanquillero/status/1066670953302843392

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

Source: Twitter@JorjeTWeather https://twitter.com/JorgeTWeather/status/1065413702957101056

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

Source: Twitter@sraichlen https://twitter.com/sraichlen/status/1050113457268375553

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

https://twitter.com/lifegoals4me/status/579269968291852288
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.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

Entertainment

Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

Luis Fonsi is kicking off 2021 with a new single. The Puerto Rican superstar premiered the music video for “Vacío” on Feb. 18 featuring rising Boricua singer Rauw Alejandro. The guys put a new spin on the classic “A Puro Dolor” by Son By Four.

Luis Fonsi throws it back to his románticas.

“I called Omar Alfanno, the writer of ‘A Puro Dolo,’ who is a dear friend,” Fonsi tells Latido Music. “I told him what my idea was [with ‘Vacío’] and he loved it. He gave me his blessing, so I wrote a new song around a few of those lines from ‘A Puro Dolor’ to bring back that nostalgia of those old romantic tunes that have been a part of my career as well. It’s a fresh production. It sounds like today, but it has that DNA of a true, old-school ballad.”

The world got to know Fonsi through his global smash hit “Despacito” with Daddy Yankee in 2017. The remix with Canadian pop star Justin Bieber took the song to new heights. That was a big moment in Fonsi’s music career that spans over 20 years.

There’s more to Fonsi than “Despacito.”

Fonsi released his first album, the fittingly-titled Comenzaré, in 1998. While he was on the come-up, he got the opportunity of a lifetime to feature on Christina Aguilera’s debut Latin album Mi Reflejo in 2000. The two collaborated on “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” Fonsi scored multiple Billboard Hot Latin Songs No. 1s in the years that followed and one of the biggest hits was “No Me Doy Por Vencido” in 2008. That was his career-defining romantic ballad.

“Despacito” remains the second most-viewed music video on YouTube with over 7.2 billion views. The hits did not stop there. Later in 2017, he teamed up with Demi Lovato for “Échame La Culpa,” which sits impressively with over 2 billion views.

He’s also appearing on The Voice next month.

Not only is Fonsi working on his new album, but also he’s giving advice to music hopefuls for the new season of The Voice that’s premiering on March 1. Kelly Clarkson tapped him as her Battle Advisor. In an exclusive interview, Fonsi talked with us about “Vacío,” The Voice, and a few of his greatest hits.

What was the experience like to work with Rauw Alejandro for “Vacío”?

Rauw is cool. He’s got that fresh sound. Great artist. Very talented. Amazing onstage. He’s got that great tone and delivery. I thought he had the perfect voice to fit with my voice in this song. We had talked about working together for awhile and I thought that this was the perfect song. He really is such a star. What he’s done in the last couple of years has been amazing. I love what he brought to the table on this song.

Now I want to go through some of your greatest hits. Do you remember working with Christina Aguilera for her Spanish album?

How could you not remember working with her? She’s amazing. That was awhile back. That was like 1999 or something like that. We were both starting out and she was putting out her first Spanish album. I got to sing a beautiful ballad called “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” I got to work with her in the studio and see her sing in front of the mic, which was awesome. She’s great. One of the best voices out there still to this day.

What’s one of your favorite memories of “No Me Doy Por Vencido”?

“No Me Doy Por Vencido” is one of the biggest songs in my career. I think it’s tough to narrow it down just to one memory. I think in general the message of the song is what sticks with me. The song started out as a love song, but it turned into an anthem of hope. We’ve used the song for different important events and campaigns. To me, that song has such a powerful message. It’s bigger than just a love song. It’s bringing hope to people. It’s about not giving up. To be able to kind of give [people] hope through a song is a lot more powerful than I would’ve ever imagined. It’s a very special song.

I feel the message is very relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic we’re living through.

Oh yeah! I wrote that song a long time ago with Claudia Brant, and during the first or second month of the lockdown when we were all stuck at home, we did a virtual writing session and we rewrote “No Me Doy Por Vencido.” Changing the lyrics, kind of adjusting them to this situation that we’re living now. I haven’t recorded it. I’ll do something with it eventually. It’s really cool. It still talks about love. It talks about reuniting. Like the light at the end of the tunnel. It has the hope and love backbone, but it has to do a lot with what we’re going through now.

What do you think of the impact “Despacito” made on the industry?

It’s a blessing to be a part of something so big. Again, it’s just another song. We write these songs and the moment you write them, you don’t really know what’s going to happen with them. Or sometimes you run into these surprises like “Despacito” where it becomes a global phenomenon. It goes No. 1 in places where Spanish songs had never been played. I’m proud. I’m blessed. I’m grateful to have worked with amazing people like Daddy Yankee. Like Justin Bieber for the remix and everyone else involved in the song. My co-writer Erika Ender. The producers Mauricio Rengifo and Andrés Torres. It was really a team effort and it’s a song that obviously changed my career forever.

What was the experience like to work with Demi Lovato on “Echáme La Culpa”?

She’s awesome! One of the coolest recording sessions I’ve ever been a part of. She really wanted to sing in Spanish and she was so excited. We did the song in Spanish and English, but it was like she was more excited about the Spanish version. And she nailed it! She nailed it from the beginning. There was really not much for me to say to her. I probably corrected her once or twice in the pronunciation, but she came prepared and she brought it. She’s an amazing, amazing, amazing vocalist.

You’re going to be a battle advisor on The Voice. What was the experience like to work with Kelly Clarkson?

She’s awesome. What you see is what you get. She’s honest. She’s funny. She’s talented. She’s humble and she’s been very supportive of my career. She invited me to her show and it speaks a lot that she wanted me to be a part of her team as a Battle Advisor for the new season. She supports Latin music and I’m grateful for that. She’s everything you hope she would be. She’s the real deal, a true star, and just one of the coolest people on this planet.

What can we expect from you in 2021?

A lot of new music. Obviously, everything starts today with “Vacío.” This is literally the beginning of what this new album will be. I’ve done nothing but write and record during the last 10 months, so I have a bunch of songs. Great collaborations coming up. I really think the album will be out probably [in the] third or fourth quarter this year. The songs are there and I’m really eager for everybody to hear them.

Read: We Finally Have A Spanish-Language Song As The Most Streamed Song Of All Time

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Lifestyles Of The Rich And Dangerous: Cartels Are Using TikTok To Lure Young People

Things That Matter

Lifestyles Of The Rich And Dangerous: Cartels Are Using TikTok To Lure Young People

If you’ve ever wondered what someone with a bulletproof vest and an AR-15 would look like flossing — the dance, not the method of dental hygiene — apparently the answer to that question can be found on TikTok.

Unfortunately, it’s not as a part of some absurdist sketch comedy or surreal video art installation. Instead, it’s part of a growing trend of drug cartels in Mexico using TikTok as a marketing tool. Nevermind the fact that Mexico broke grim records last year for the number of homicides and cartel violence, the cartels have found an audience on TikTok and that’s a serious cause for concern.

Mexican cartels are using TikTok to gain power and new recruits.

Just a couple of months ago, a TikTok video showing a legit high-speed chase between police and drug traffickers went viral. Although it looked like a scene from Netflix’s Narcos series, this was a very real chase in the drug cartel wars and it was viewed by more than a million people.

Typing #CartelTikTok in the social media search bar brings up thousands of videos, most of them from people promoting a “cartel culture” – videos with narcocorridos, and presumed members bragging about money, fancy cars and a luxury lifestyle.

Viewers no longer see bodies hanging from bridges, disembodied heads on display, or highly produced videos with messages to their enemies. At least not on TikTok. The platform is being used mainly to promote a lifestyle and to generate a picture of luxury and glamour, to show the ‘benefits’ of joining the criminal activities.

According to security officials, the promotion of these videos is to entice young men who might be interested in joining the cartel with images of endless cash, parties, military-grade weapons and exotic pets like tiger cubs.

Cartels have long used social media to shock and intimidate their enemies.

And using social media to promote themselves has long been an effective strategy. But with Mexico yet again shattering murder records, experts on organized crime say Cartel TikTok is just the latest propaganda campaign designed to mask the blood bath and use the promise of infinite wealth to attract expendable young recruits.

“It’s narco-marketing,” said Alejandra León Olvera, an anthropologist at Spain’s University of Murcia, in a statement to the New York Times. The cartels “use these kinds of platforms for publicity, but of course it’s hedonistic publicity.”

Mexico used to be ground zero for this kind of activity, where researchers created a new discipline out of studying these narco posts. Now, gangs in Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, and the United States are also involved.

A search of the #CartelTikTok community and its related accounts shows people are responding. Public comments from users such as “Y’all hiring?” “Yall let gringos join?” “I need an application,” or “can I be a mule? My kids need Christmas presents,” are on some of the videos.

One of the accounts related to this cartel community publicly answered: “Of course, hay trabajo para todos,” “I’ll send the application ASAP.” “How much is the pound in your city?” “Follow me on Instagram to talk.” The post, showing two men with $100 bills and alcohol, had more than a hundred comments.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com