Culture

Turns Out Pupusas And Hundreds Of Other Latin American Dishes Are Strongly Rooted In Colonization

Amigos, this is not the article to read if you’re feeling hungry. Or, maybe it is – if you’re up for a challenge! Just don’t blame your rumbling stomach on us. We’ve put together a quick primer on how our favorite foods from Latin America came about.

1. Tacos

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When you’re eating a taco, you’re partaking in not just any old history – you’re experiencing a piece of ancient history. Why? Because the humble taco predates the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in Mexico! Apparently, anthropologists have found evidence that the indigenous people living in the lake region of the Valley of Mexico traditionally ate tacos with a filling made of small fish. In fact, Hernán Cortés enjoyed tacos so much that he arranged them for his captains to try in Coyoacán.

2. Burritos

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Okay, so we may not know the story behind how the modern burrito came about. But, there’s plenty that points to the Mesoamerican people being the inventors of the original burrito. They were in the habit of wrapping corn tortillas around fillings made of chili peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, squash, and avocados way back in 10,000 B.C. And yet, somehow the burrito, in all its delicious goodness, made its way through time to first appear on an American restaurant menu during the 1930s.

3. Churros

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If there’s anything we can say about churros, it’s that they’ve been around for hundreds of years. Where they got their start from, though, is shrouded in mystery. One theory suggests that they made their way to Europe thanks to the Portuguese messing with a Chinese recipe for youtiao – the Chinese version of a churro. Another theory says that Spanish shepherds used to make them while they were in the mountains since they are so easy to make and fry in an open fire.

4. Cuban Sandwiches

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Back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, travel between Cuba and Florida was a lot easier than what it is now – especially from Key West and Tampa. It was pretty common for Cubans to sail back and forth for work, family visits, and even holidays. It is said that the Cuban sandwich was invented around this time since it was a pretty common lunch food for the workers in Cuban cigar factories and sugar mills.

5. Ropa vieja

Instagram / @cocina_tradicional_autentica

The recipe for ropa vieja is at least 500 years old, which has given us plenty of time to perfect it. It originated with the Jewish population living on the Iberian peninsula in Spain. As the Sabbath was a time for prayer and reflection, not cooking, the Jewish people would slow-cook a delectable stew the night before. Clearly, the dish was so good that the Spanish brought the recipe with them when they migrated to Latin America, where it has been a staple ever since.

6. Mangú

Instagram / @tuplatord

It is thought that mangú originated in the Congo region in Africa, where it was common to eat boiled mashed plantains. From there, it is likely that the recipe made its way across the seas to Latin America during the times of slave trading. Apparently, the name comes from something along the lines of “mangusi”, referring to pretty much any root vegetable that was boiled and mashed.

7. Tostones

Instagram / @seisvecinos

The recipe for tostones is so old that most have forgotten its origins. But, most believe that it’s from the Dominican Republic since it’s the only place that has kept the original dish’s name. Plus, there are some pretty similar recipes in the area: think along the lines of mofongo, arañitas, alcapurria and tostones de pana.

8. Pupusas

Instagram / @lieats

The earliest evidence of pupusas have been found in the ruins of Joya de Cerén in El Salvador – for those of you that need to brush up on your history, that’s basically El Salvador’s Pompeii. Believe it or not, cooking tools for papusas were preserved among the ashes of the centuries-old ruins! It’s estimated that papusas were eaten around 2000 years ago by the Pipil tribes of the region.

9. Brigadeiro

Instagram / @brigadeiroebolonopote

Brigadeiro was invented in 1945, just after the end of World War II. Brazil had entered the campaign season for its presidential elections, and one candidate, the gorgeous Brigadier Eduardo Gomes, was enormously popular among women. His most devoted followers decided to take his election campaign into their own hands and made candy to be sold in his name. Considering how scarce foodstuffs were after the war, they got creative, mixing condensed milk with butter and chocolate to create the recipe we know and love today. It turns out brigadeiro survived a lot longer than the Brigadier’s political career – in the end, he didn’t even get elected.

10. Empanadas

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It is thought that empanadas were originally created in Galicia, which is to the northwest of Spain. Apparently, the recipe was recorded in the Libre del Coch by Robert de Nola in 1520 – the first cookbook that was printed in the Catalan language. Chances are it was eaten by the King of Naples, Ferdinand I since Robert de Nola served as his cook. The original recipe mentions empanadas filled with seafood.

11. Churrasco

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Even though churrasco is known for being a Brazilian cuisine, apparently it got its popularity in the region after Portuguese settlers imported it in the 1700s. Brazilian cowboys, or gaúchos, were known for chowing down on churrasco after a hard day herding cattle on the ranches. The traditional method of preparing churrasco would see gaúchos start by digging large fire pits. They would then wait around the fire for the wood to turn to embers before skewering the meat.

12. Chipá

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Chipá has been around since human settlements developed in the Guarani region, over a thousand years ago, meaning that it’s been a staple in Paraguay, Northeastern Argentina, Southeastern Bolivia, and Southwestern Brazil for a long, long time. Back in the day, the original recipe for chipá saw it prepared with simply cassava starch and water. Colonization and the arrival Jesuit missionaries saw the introduction of cattle, chickens and other livestock to the area, which then resulted in more ingredients being added to the original recipe. Over time, this transformed chipá into the dish we eat today.

13. Mole

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Mole has a bit of a contentious history. Why? Because there are two states in Mexico that claim to be the proud inventory of mole: Puebla and Oaxaca. And, sure, the best-known mole comes from both of those areas, so it’s hard to say which state has the better claim to the title. While the true origins of mole may never be known, what we do know is that the first recipes for mole appeared after the Mexican War of Independence in 1810.

14. Ceviche

Instagram / @chef.timour

It’s been thought that ceviche originated in a few different places around the world – from Peru to the Philippines, to Ecuador, and even the Polynesian islands in the South Pacific, since so many civilizations seemed to enjoy some variation of the recipe. That being said, most historians agree that the beginnings of ceviche as we know it today was brought to Peru by the Spanish during colonial times.

So which Latin American dish is your favorite from our list? Tell us about it on Twitter – you can find it by clicking on the logo at the top of the page.

Did You Know The First Happy Meal Was Invented By A Latina?

Entertainment

Did You Know The First Happy Meal Was Invented By A Latina?

David Paul Morris / Getty Images

Did you know that the first ever Happy Meal was created by a Latina? That’s right, in the mid-70s when Yolanda Fernández de Cofiño was operating various McDonalds in Guatemala, she invented what she dubbed the “Menu Ronald”. The “Menu Ronald”  was invented to help parents keep their kids satisfied when the family went out to eat. The original “Menu Ronald” included a hamburger, small fries and a small sundae. Naturally, word eventually got back to McDonald’s headquarters in Chicago they decided to adopt the practice as their own. They hired a white American man to develop the idea (and subsequently take credit for it) and voila! The Happy Meal was born.

It’s unfortunate that Fernández de Cofiño’s recognition has been lost to the American public, but it’s still inspiring to know that there were business-minded Latinx people in history whose achievements still impact our lives today. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we’ve decided to celebrate the underrated Latina entrepreneur Yolanda Fernández de Cofiño for the marketing genius that she was. We’ve documented the evolution of Happy Meal toys from the idea’s inception and launch in the 1970s, to its continuing legacy today.

Take a look below for a nostalgic blast from the past!

1. 1979: The Very First Happy Meal

via Pinterest

Although the original concept of the Happy Meal was invented by Yolanda Fernández de Cofiño, the first official launch of the American Happy Meal happened in 1979. However, the gift wasn’t half as elaborate as it was now. According to records the toys were “a McDoodle stencil, a McWrist wallet, an ID bracelet, a puzzle lock, a spinning top or a McDonaldland character-shaped eraser”.

2. 1984: Ronald and The Gang

 thegoodtoyshop via Ebay

McDonalds Happy Meal toys evolved from spinning tops and erasers to more complex toys. Like, the above “Ronald and the Gang” wind-up cars that were defitenly a step-up from McDonald’s earlier toys. They weren’t as sophisticated as the toys would eventually get, though.

3. 1987: Mc-Transformers

Reddit User gnarrdan

The Transformers/McDonalds mashup was innovative in its day because it was blending the IP of two successful brands. Instead of McDonald’s using its Happy Meal to market other products, it was using its Happy Meal to market other products that were marketing McDonalds. It was a win-win situation.

4. 1988: McNuggets Buddies

EBAY USER MCJANTONE

In 1988, McDonalds hadn’t yet started to do marketing tie-ins with kids’ movies. Instead, they had prizes like “McNuggets Buddies”, which were chicken nuggets dressed in various outfits and costumes. This lasted until the mid-90s.

5. 1994: Sonic the Hedgehog

@NascaronReddit/Twitter

By the mid-90s, the powers-that-be recognized that there was a lucrative market to tap by using Happy Meals to advertise kid-oriented products directly to kids. It was around this time that the entertainment industry really began to see the potential for promoting movies and TV shows through fast-food chains. And if you look at the advertisement above, the Happy Meal only cost $1.99. Those were the days!

6. 1996: 101 Dalmatians

EBAY USER KINGDADDY50

Never the one to pass up an opportunity to advertise, Disney quickly hopped on board the McDonalds train as a means to promote their movies. One of the first Disney x Mcdonald’s ventures were the release of literally one-hundred-and-one collectible dalmatian figurines through their Happy Meals.

7. 1997: “Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection”

Youtube via FastFoodToyReviews

Off the success of their 101 Dalmatians toys, Disney and McDonalds continued their partnership by releasing tiny VHS boxes equipped with a a little toy character from the movie. People really began to see collecting fast food toys as a hobby around this time.

8. Mid-90s: “Teenie Babies”

EBAY User BDK84

Even McDonalds wasn’t immune to the Beanie Baby craze that swept the nation in the mid-90s. Convinced that they would one day be worth thousands, collectors flocked to the Golden Arches to get their hands on miniature versions of the popular plush toys. Unfortunately, most of the “Teenie Baby” toys aren’t worth anything these days.

9. 1997-Now: Barbies

EBAY User PERFECTSHIP

In 1997, McDonald’s started a lucrative partnership with the Barbie line of toys that would last until today. What young girl doesn’t have memories of getting this in their Happy Meal box (whether they liked it or not) while their brother got a Hot Wheels car? It’s safe to say the ’90s weren’t progressive, gender-wise.

10. 2004: Hello Kitty Keychains

Youtube via Lucky Penny Shop

Into the 2000s, McDonald’s took advantage of the Hello Kitty trend by offering plush Hello Kitty key chains in their Happy Meals.

11. 2015: Minion Fever

Ebay user BOB_THE_SPY

Do you remember the time when you couldn’t escape “Despicable Me” minion merchandising, no matter where you went? Well, that included McDonalds. Nowhere was safe.

This Glass Gem Corn Is Blowing Minds All Over Twitter Right Now And I Want Some ASAP

Culture

This Glass Gem Corn Is Blowing Minds All Over Twitter Right Now And I Want Some ASAP

While the Internet might call it “Ghey Corn,” this rainbow-colored corn variety is officially dubbed Glass Gem corn. Not only are there a rainbow of colorful kernels, but they’re also shiny, prompting the ‘Glass’ description. The person responsible for our new favorite, gay-friendly corn is a man by the name of Carl Barnes, who passed in 2016. Barnes enjoyed his life in Oklahoma and cultivated his own personal seed bank passed down from his Cherokee ancestors. Barnes chose to save and replant the seeds from the cobs with the most color, and eventually developed strains of vibrant corn.

One day, Barnes decided to move and asked his friend, Greg Schoen, to protect the seeds. Schoen grew a small handful of the seeds and was shocked when he peeled back the corn stalk to reveal rows and rows of shiny, rainbow-colored corn. Schoen was so excited, he posted the image to his Facebook, and it promptly went viral. Soon, the two cultivated enough seeds to sell online, and people around the country have grown gorgeous varieties.

Green thumbs around the world bought satchels of the precious seed and the following season, were “blown away.”

Credit: @watermicrobe / Twitter

While Schoen may have initiated the first viral sensation over Glass Gem corn in 2012, Ameet Pinto’s viral post has become Mother Nature’s best queer bait yet. With over 7k likes, “I STAN GAY CORN” is the most liked comment. Then, “Taste the rainbow.” 

Some people literally cannot believe this is corn, accusing Pinto of creating a jelly bean cob.

Credit: @mr_plantgeek / Twitter

“Those are just jellybeans ur not foolin me!!!!!” commented one unbeliever. Someone else seems to think that a profitable venture would be to sell the kernels as jelly beans as a scam. Still, others are bringing the negativity to this rainbow party, assuming that because the cob looks different from the mono-crop, that it must be a GMO frankencorn. “Glad to see people trying to live in Chernobyl,” tweets one disbelieving Shane. 

Glass Gem corn is not a GMO crop.

Credit: @Rainmaker1973 / Twitter

In fact, this variety likely healthier than the corn you might buy at a store, which may have been genetically modified rather than artificially selected. Barnes artificially selected the prettiest corn from his crop and decided to grow from those seeds the following year.

When folks hear the story of Carl Barnes, it just adds a whole new depth to the color.

Credit: @CwdickD / Twitter

“Fun fact about these is that they were discovered by a dude who was half-Cherokee and he started growing a sh**load of different corn types to reconnect with his heritage,” tweeted one person. As Barnes was artificially selecting which corn kernels he’d store as seeds for the next year, he grew closer with his Cherokee heritage.

For those of you expecting rainbow colored popcorn, don’t.

Credit: Glass Gem Corn / Facebook

All that’s left of the kernel when you pop the corn is usually that brown kernel skin that gets stuck in your teeth. In the case of Glass Gem corn, you can sort of make out the varying colors of popped kernels, but the popcorn itself is the same color as regular Joe Schmoe popcorn.

The Glass Gem corn isn’t that sweet.

Credit: @SlowFoodUSA / Twitter

According to Pinto, the corn isn’t sweet like yellow corn, so it doesn’t make for good fresh esquites or elotes. All popcorn comes from different varieties of corn that you have to dehydrate to turn into cornmeal or popcorn. “We’ll be eating some colorful popcorn this winter,” Ameet tweeted.

There’s even a Facebook group for Glass Gem growers to share their growing tips and cooking tips.

Credit: Glass Gem Corn / Facebook

In case you were wondering, the Facebook group “Glass Gem Corn” says you can prepare creamy Glass Gem polenta by following these instructions: “Pour into a shallow pan to cool. Cut into squares and lightly brown in a sauté pan.” We don’t know how you do it but keep on making gay polenta, please.

All in all, the Internet is pretty a-maize-d by the gay corn.

Credit: @DonConklin5 / Twitter

“Corn says lgbtq rights,” tweeted one stan. We’re with them. This is one of those moments that we’re allowed to be in wonder over how indigenous folks cultivate the land.

READ: Oaxaca Is Mexico’s Cultural Capital And Home To Its Largest Indigenous Communities, Here’s What You Need To Know