Culture

Immigrant Communities Put Their Own Unique Spin On Thanksgiving Traditions, Here Are Some Of Our Favorites

Among the many holidays celebrated in the United States (and Canada!) perhaps Thanksgiving is the one most closely related to family. Each year, hundreds of thousands of families reunite even if their members live in a different state or even a different country. Thanksgiving, in its contemporary iteration, is a celebration than is also a reminder that the land that is now the United States has been fertile ground for stories of second chances and dreams fulfilled (we should not forget, of course, that the land was never ceded by the original Native-American owners and that other than the original indigenous population everyone is a guest). 

One of the ways in which folk celebrate their own cultural identity during Thanksgiving is giving the traditional turkey and fixings a personal taste derived from the culinary traditions of their own home countries, or the part of the world from where their families originally come from. 

However, taking a liking to the very American turkey is not always an easy feat for some migrant communities.

Credit: Unsplash

As a recent article in The Washington Post wittily points out: “Many first-generation immigrants to America can’t help but eyeball the bird with skepticism, no matter how much they want to adopt the customs of their new home. Turkeys — often hulking specimens, hard to cook, rather bland — are not native to many countries around the world”. You can only imagine what a Mexican abuelita who knows how to make mole the traditional way, with about a million ingredients, must think of just sticking a big bird into an oven and lazily waiting for it to cook with butter, garlic and a bit of herbs and spices. Not for her! We are sure this hypothetical abuelita is up for a bigger challenge! 

So what about adding a bit of this? Yes, the smokey chile ancho!

Credit: Spices, Inc.

Mexican-American chef Adán Medrano recently revealed his secret to The Washington Post: the humble ancho chili, which is nothing more than a dried and sometimes smoked poblano. He created a recipe for Turkey Enchilado, channeling the culinary tradition of his family’s native Coahuila, in Northern Mexico. His recipe is spectacular in its simplicity. Medrano describes it like this in his blog: “A delicious Mexican favorite, this recipe for Turkey Enchilado, or Guajolote Enchilado, will bring mouthwatering smiles to your family and amigos, amigas.  I use only one type of chile, Chile Ancho, because I like the direct flavor and also because this is the dried chile that my mom used most often during the holidays”. Here’s the absolutely delicious and simple recetita. You are welcome. 

What about pavo con mole? Nothing screams “Mexican abuelita” like this timeless classic.

Credit: Locale Magazine

Mole is a complex sauce that, among many other things, contains chocolate, chilies and broth. This recipe is adapted for those more gringo inclined palates and has a bit of a sweet and tangy feel to it. It has plenty of shortcuts (like using Dona Maria mole instead of making it from scratch, just don’t tell your tias or they will eat you alive with chismes). This sweet and savory turkey can be the centerpiece of a good Cena de Accion de Gracias, and you can complement it with all the Mexican sides, such as papas con chorizo, nopalitos and of course a container full of steaming tortillitas. Find the recipe here

And did you know some dishes from India have a piquancy similar to the one found in some Latin American dishes?

Credit: Pink Chai Living

Have you ever tried tandoori? It is a delicious mix of spices that is used in the area known as Punjab, in Northern India. It is used to season grilled meats and make them tender and juicy on the inside, so it is the perfect fit for a Thanksgiving turkey. If you have a Latino family and want to be just a bit daring, this might be the way to go. Raj Thandhi, an Indian-Canadian woman and editor of the blog Pink Chai Living came up with an amazing recipe that honors her roots while also being the perfect hero for a family dinner. Tandoori is as complex as any mole and the paste requires a series of perfectly balanced ingredients. Just look at this list, which is enough to make your head spin!

3 cups yogurt
2 tbsp chilli powder
1.5 tsp cumin
1.5 tsp coriander
1.5 tsp chaat masala
1.5 tsp garam masala
1.5 tsp black peper
1.5 tsp crushed fenugreek leaves
2 tsp black salt
5 tbsps each ginger and garlic paste
3 tbsps oil
2 tsp red food color 2
1/2 cup chopped coriander
1/2 cup chopped mint 

Ready to get down and dirty in the kitchen and impress all your guests?

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This Abuelita Has Been Named One Of Mexico’s Most Powerful Women

Things That Matter

This Abuelita Has Been Named One Of Mexico’s Most Powerful Women

Remember Doña Angelita, the adorable Mexican abuelita who became internet famous by sharing her traditional recipes online? Well, she was recently recognized by Forbes magazine as one of the most powerful women in Mexico. And we can’t celebrate this enough! One of the things we love about online cultures when they are at their best is how everyday people who have extraordinary talents can share their uniqueness with the world. 

This amazing woman is now loved and respected by literally millions, as she has provided access to life in rural Mexico. Rural and indigenous Mexicans (and Latin Americans in general) are marginalized when it comes to sharing their lives on social media and becoming mainstream. So this case has helped spread the word on the awesomeness of traditional food and rustic cooking methods. 

She has also helped in the preservation of traditional recipes that can get lost if they are not properly archived: with her YouTube videos, she has made sure that the methods, ingredients and human touch of dishes that have been passed down generations of Mexicans are kept alive in the digital era. And we cannot thank her enough. La queremos mucho, Doña Angelita!

In its annual roundup, Forbes named Doña Angela as one of Mexico’s most influential women and we couldn’t agree more.

Last year, Doña Angela launched a wildly successful YouTube channel – De Mi Rancho a Tu Cocina – that brought rural Mexican cooking to viewers across the world. In just two months, her channel had been viewed more than 7 million times and she quickly gained millions of subscribers.

Now, the world-famous abuelita is being recognized by Forbes magazine as one of the most influential women in Mexico, for her work in bringing Mexican culture to her audience.

“I’m already everyone’s aunt and everyone’s grandmother” said Doña Angela when she shared with her then million followers that YouTube had awarded her two plaques: the silver for having exceeded 100,000 and the gold for exceeding a million subscriptions to her channel.

Doña Angela joins a list of 100 other Mexican women who received the honor this year, including: actress Yalitza Aparicio, the famous chef, Daniela Soto-Innes, and Mexico City Mayor, Claudia Sheinbaum.

Her recognition from Forbes, comes shortly after being recognized by YouTube for her online success.

Credit: De Mi Rancho A Tu Cocina / Facebook

In a photo that Doña Angelita shared in her official Facebook page we can see her holding two plaques with one of her granddaughters. The golden plaque is a real achievement: it states that her YouTube channel has surpassed 1,000,000 subscribers, not an easy feat at all! Just look at her proud smile, the product of many years of perfecting her culinary skills in silence and the pride of finally being able to share it with the help of her family. This is as authentic as it gets. And for those hipsters who love organic…. just look at the beautiful produce she uses in her food. 

Because we can all remember an abuelita that looks like the sweet Doña Angelita.

Credit: De Mi Rancho A Tu Cocina / YouTube

One of the reasons why she has become such a star is that her charisma and tenderness reminds us of our own abuelitas or aunties who spent hours cleaning frijoles while chatting to us. Many of us remember the endless afternoons we spent watching our abuelitas stir a pot. For many Latinos, the first forays into the kitchen had to do with private cooking lessons from those strong, beautiful souls called abuelitas. These private lessons are a treasure that even Chef Gordon Ramsey would envy! 

Fame has also allowed her to fulfil some of her dreams!

Credit: De Mi Rancho A Tu Cocina / Facebook

And of course all this fame has come with some much deserved perks! Our favorite online celebrity was able to take her husband and her family to a beach holiday thanks to the support her YouTube channel has gotten. She had never been to the beach, and the photos she shared on her official Facebook page are beautiful, so joyous. It is things like this that make us believe in humanity again! 

And she gets her viejo to help with the cooking too! Her success is a communal, family effort.

Credit: De Mi Rancho A Tu Cocina / Facebook

Just look at this adorable moment. In her Facebook page, Doña Angelita makes it clear that her success is not a one-woman-show. Her success is also a testament of the support and solidarity that many Latinos find in their immediate family. We also love how her success story counters gender stereotypes. Her story also defies the notion that once you are over 50 your working life, particularly if you are a woman, is over. Her success story also makes us wonder how many people with hidden talents are out there. We hope for many more of these viral personalities to emerge, as they are nice change considering the huge amount of empty and narcissistic messages floating around in the influencer industry.

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From Churros To Buñuelos And Atole— 12 Latino Comfort Desserts To Get You Through This Weird Quarantine Season

Culture

From Churros To Buñuelos And Atole— 12 Latino Comfort Desserts To Get You Through This Weird Quarantine Season

josie_delights / guatemala / Instagram

Updated on May 13, 2020, originally published on November 20, 2019.

Sure, it’s summertime but there’s nothing wrong with tapping into the holiday season for some good o’l comfort food. Especially these days. Latinos don’t settle for just one dessert option, we have plenty to choose from and you best believe a few tías will bring different ones. From pastel de tres leches to churros and all the drinks that go with them, there are some wonderful treats in store. Yes, more often than not, a good cafecito will pair up perfectly with your postre, but how about a Mexican ponche? Or a Guatemalan Atol? We rounded up our fave cold-weather desserts for the summer that every Latino should whip up for quarantine!

1. Alfajores

Credit: nosjuntapaula / Instagram

These soft, delicate and buttery cookies are held together by the addicting caramel sauce, an elixir of the gods; dulce de leche. This option goes perfectly with a good old cafecito and chisme. That sobremesa is sure to get lit with all that sugar pumping up the tías and abuelitas. 

2. Arroz con leche

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A foolproof winter classic. Arroz con leche is the ultimate Latino comfort dessert any time of year tbh. Try it calientito with a good amount of cinnamon and raisins. Provecho!

3. Buñuelos —Colombianos and Mexicanos

Credit: nachoecia / Instagram

The Colombian iteration isn’t quite a sweet treat as it’s filled with cheese, but the addition of brown sugar, butter and tapioca make it a dessert in our book. As for the Mexican version, they’re usually made during the winter holidays. Mexican Buñuelos are made of fried dough, covered in cinnamon sugar and if you’re not about fried dough covered in cinnamon sugar, idk what to tell you, there’s something wrong going on.  

4. Chocoflan

Credit: dolchecakes / Instagram

Also known in Mexico as ‘Impossible Cake’, this delicious mass of goodness combines two great things into one god-sent hybrid. If you love flan, but would also like to have a slice of chocolate cake, Latina moms everywhere say; “¿Por qué no los dos?” The rich dense chocolate, topped with creamy vanilla flan, drizzled with a thick layer of cajeta is, quite literally, what dessert dreams are made of. 

5. Churros

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There’s something so satisfying when biting into a warm, doughy, crunchy and sugary churro. You can find these delicious treats all over Latin America, and they’re particularly yummy when paired with a cup of hot chocolate! Extra points if you stuff them with cajeta or chocolate. 

6. Flan

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Almost every Latin American household will have its own version of flan. From Puerto Rico to Costa Rica and everywhere in between, Latinos love flan. The creamy vanilla-flavored concoction is basically irresistible. 

7. Natilla Colombiana

Credit: josie_delights / Instagram

This Colombian custard dessert is very traditional during Christmas, but we like to think that it’s also good at any time of the year. Natilla is a rich, custard-like dessert traditionally served alongside the deep-fried cheese buñuelos we told you about earlier. You’ll definitely have to forget about la dieta if you want to have this option. 

8. Suspiro de Limeña

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Its name literally translates to “Sigh of the lady from Lima.” This Peruvian dessert is definitely sigh-inducing. The creamy, caramel-like custard, topped with a Port flavored meringue is an extra sweet treat for this cold season. The dessert originated in the city of Lima, and it is said that it gained its name after a poet said it tasted soft and sweet, like the sigh of a woman.

9. Pastel de Tres leches 

Credit: tallerdenoemi / Instagrm

This quintessentially Latino cake is made with three types of milk: evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and whole milk. This is definitely not for the lactose intolerant. The cake soaks up all these liquids, making it a super decadent treat. If you’ve never had this traditional Latino dessert, prepared to be delighted, and have the coffee pot a-ready. 

10. Ponche Navideño

Credit: mexicoinmykitchen / Instagram

Traditional Mexican fruit punch is a hot, delicious concoction. Made with more than ten fruits including apple, tamarind, jamaica, tejocotes, raisins. This punch is spiced with cinnamon, clove, and piloncillo. It’s basically Christmas in a cup.

11. Camotes en dulce 

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Mexican candied sweet potatoes are a must. Día de los Muertos, on Nov. 1, marks the beginning of Camote season. ‘Camotes Enmielados’ is made of sweet potatoes, simmered in a cinnamon and piloncillo syrup. This dish makes for the perfect fall treat. 

12. Guatemalan Atol

Credit: guatemala / Instagram

Made of ground corn, the flavors of this drink range from cinnamon to black beans to chocolate to cajeta. Guatemalan Atol, or Atole in Mexico, is a drink made differently in many countries of Latin America, but there’s one thing that remains the same everywhere, and that is that it’s a fall-winter staple you can’t miss out on.

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