Culture

Latinos And Muslims Are Having Cross-Cultural Exchanges During Ramadan Thanks To Halal Tacos

Julie Leopo / mitú

Organizer-activists Rida Hamida and Benjamin Vazquez are bringing taco trucks to mosques all over Orange County, Calif. in an attempt to help bridge the divide between the Latino and Muslim communities. Their event, #TacoTrucksAtEveryMosque, seeks to bring together two communities facing increased scrutiny — and hate crimes — in recent months. According to Hamida and Vazquez, the best way to achieve their goal was to get people to sit down and eat together when Muslims break their fast at sundown during the holy month of Ramadan. But they didn’t pick just any food, the organizers knew the importance of being culturally sensitive and appropriate, so they found a taco truck that would serve halal food. Mitú was at the latest meet up and spoke with the organizers about why this event is so necessary right now.

We are currently in the holy month of Ramadan, a time when practicing Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset to get closer to God.

CREDIT: Julie Leopo / mitú

“Ramadan is an Arabic name for the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. This month is observed with fasting. During this month, the Prophet Muhammad received God’s first revelation. We fast every day this month from sunrise to sunset,” Muzammil Siddiqi, the Religious Director of Islamic Society of Orange County and attendee at the event, told mitú. “It does teach you discipline and helps you focus. It also teaches you patience and lets you reflect and be thankful. Many times you take food and water for granted, so when we fast and finally have food and water we are thankful.”

#TacoTrucksAtEveryMosque is a nod to the #TacoTrucksOnEveryStreetCorner moment from the 2016 presidential campaign.

CREDIT: Julie Leopo / mitú

Hamida told mitú that early on, food seemed like the best way to get these communities together. They discussed finding a taco truck that was willing to provide culturally and religiously appropriate foods to the Muslim community they were looking to serve. They remembered the “taco trucks on every corner” moment from the 2016 presidential campaign and knew that to really send a message, they needed to get taco trucks to the mosques.

The idea of using halal tacos to create cross-cultural conversations has been working, according to Hamida.

CREDIT: Julie Leopo / mitú

“We are seeing people learning how to be patient, open-minded, and open-hearted. They are learning to do that through food, because you know, when you are protesting you are angry, and you don’t get to know the people around you when you’re protesting,” Hamida told mitú. “You are just fighting that fight, but we aren’t really nurturing one another. It’s a one-way conversation and we are fighting for justice in front of these institutions, but this is a different type of protest and resistance; this is a very nurturing resistance, a very soulful resistance. We are coming together and really feeding our souls through our food and our culture.”

And it isn’t just Latinos and Muslims exchanging ideas. Hamida told mitú that the last event attracted some Trump supporters who were curious about the event, but did not want to talk politics.

CREDIT: Julie Leopo / mitú

“When you are able to sit with people that you don’t meet eye to eye with you’re also able to grow with them,” Hamida told mitú about reaching across cultural and political divides to foster a true sense of community and understanding. “The feeling is uncomfortable but you’re serving these people food and generously, how could they say no to that? We are inviting them whole-heartedly, to experience our culture and faith. This is not a demonstration — this is about community and connecting. He [a Trump supporter] didn’t want to talk politics with me, but he did want to sit at the same table and eat with me.”

This isn’t the first time that Hamida and Vazquez have worked together to bring these two communities together.

CREDIT: Julie Leopo / mitú

“We have been teaming up together the past two years to do Little Arabia tours with the Latino community to see how we are connected,” Vazquez told mitú about the work he has done with Hamida. “Going back to a time in Spain where Jews, Muslims, and Catholics lived together for 800 years in Spain, and just to reconnect through that and bring people into Little Arabia having the food and talking about food. This year we did a hijab day where women who weren’t Muslim came and wore a hijab, and we had traditional women who wear hijabs give their experiences and what it meant to them and the feminism behind that.”

Vazquez wants for other Latino and Muslim communities to follow suit and bridge the cultural divide to discover how similar the two cultures truly are.

CREDIT: Julie Leopo / mitú

According to Vazquez, there is something powerful about getting together with people of different walks of life and sharing food that breaks down those barriers that we think make us different.

“You’ll come to find that we are all alike, and there’s nothing to fear; we are just human beings,” Vazquez told mitú.

CREDIT: Julie Leopo / mitú

Vazquez also told mitú that it is important not to let fear becoming a driving factor in who you meet and talk to. Instead, try to look past the political rhetoric and media narratives that are pulling us apart and build a larger community.

Siddiqi also has a message for people who might not understand or know the Muslim community.

CREDIT: Julie Leopo / mitú

“I would say come and visit us, come eat with us. See how Muslims live, don’t leave it up to your imagination, because people are enemies of things they do not know. So know us, that way you can have the chance to appreciate our culture and understand that we do not represent what prejudice people say about us.”

If you would like to learn more about this unity movement, visit Latino Muslim Unity on Facebook or their website.

Julie Leopo contributed to the reporting of this story.


READ: These Muslim Latinos Practice Their Faith At The Only Spanish Speaking Mosque In The Country

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This List Of 17 Celebrities That You Didn’t Know Were Latino Will Leave You Wondering How You Didn’t Know

Entertainment

This List Of 17 Celebrities That You Didn’t Know Were Latino Will Leave You Wondering How You Didn’t Know

brunomars / camerondiaz / Instagram

We’ve all done it. You meet someone new, take one good look at them and ask (almost rhetorically): “So, where are you from?” Often we expect faces to match exotic countries around the world, but frequently the response, complemented with a puzzled expression, is something like: “Oh, umm Michigan…”

But Latinos come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, We can be white and blonde gueros, we can be black, and every color in between. We are gay, Muslim, Asian, Jewish, Indigenous, and so much more.

Here are 32 Latino celebrities that you probably didn’t know are, in fact, Latino.

1. Nicole Richie

Credit: @TheAffinityMag / Twitter

You likely know Nicole Richie as Lionel Richie’s daughter and from “The Simple Life” with bestie Paris Hilton. Nicole was actually adopted by Lionel and her biological family has Mexican ancestry.

I mean people really didn’t know…

Credit: @marsisbored / Twitter

Like it was a serious shock apparently to many across social media.

2. Aubrey Plaza

Credit: plazadeaubrey / Instagram

The Parks and Recreation star is boricua pa’que lo sepas, but in several interviews, she said that people never think she’s Puerto Rican. “I’m very fair-skinned, but I feel really connected to that side of my family.”

3. Alexis Bedel

Credit: gilmoregirlsbr / Instagram

Yep, it’s true! The actress, best known for her role as Rory Gilmore on Gilmore Girls, was born to Argentinian parents (her mom grew up in Mexico) and raised in a Spanish-speaking household. She’s told Latina that she’s often assumed to be Irish.

4. Bruno Mars

Credit: brunomars / Instagram

Born Peter Hernandez to Puerto Rican and Filipino parents, Mars changed his name to avoid being stereotyped in the music industry, he told GQ.com. “People would say, ‘Your last name’s Hernandez, maybe you should do Latin music … Enrique Iglesias is so hot right now!'”

5. Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi

Credit: snooki / Instagram

Jersey Shore star Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi made a name for herself as the (very tan) of New Jersey’s Italian-Americans. But she was actually born in Chile and adopted by an Italian-American family when she was just six months old.

6. Cameron Diaz

Credit: camerondiaz / Instagram

Cameron Diaz’s father is of Cuban descent, born and raised in Tampa, Florida’s Ybor City. The bubbly blonde actress told Vogue magazine she spent part of her summers as a child in Tampa with her over-protective grandmother, “playing cards, eating steak and rice and beans and drinking RC Cola and watching soap operas.”

7. Jessica Alba

Credit: @kryptonmarvel / Twitter

Actress Jessica Alba’s father is Mexican-American, and she says she takes pride in being Latina, despite rumors to the contrary.

8. Sara Paxton

Credit: sara_paxton / Instagram

WIth roles on “Good Girls” and “Last House on the Left”, blonde-haired, blue-eyed Sara says people are often surprised to learn she’s half Mexican.

“People never believe me,”she told The Huffington Post. “I think it’s because they have this stereotype of what a Latina’s supposed to look like, and I don’t fit that typical look.”

9. Hulk Hogan

Credit: Flickering Myth

Considered by some as the greatest professional wrestler ever, Hulk Hogan, born in Georgia. But did you know that he has Panamanian roots?

10. Kid Cudi

Credit: kidcudi / Instagram

Kid Cudi’s real name is Scott Ramon Seguro. His father is a proud Mexican-American.

11. Frankie Muniz

Credit: malcomscenes / Instagram

Everyone knew of Frankie Muniz while growing up thanks to “Malcolm in the Middle” and “Agent Cody Banks.”

While Frankie is his stage name, his real name is Francisco, probably thanks to his Puerto Rican father.

12. Raquel Welch

Credit: therealraquelwelch / Instagram

Raquel Welch’s apellido is Tejada. The soap opera star changed her name while trying to make it in Hollywood, but her father was born in La Paz, Bolivia.

13. Uma Thurman

Credit: umathurman / Instagram

You probably know Uma Thurman from her role in “Pulp Fiction” but did you know she has Mexican roots? Her mother, a fashion model named Nena von Schlebrügge, was born in Mexico City before moving to New York to be a model.

14. Vanna White

Credit: officialvannawhite / Instagram

You know her as the legendary hostess of Wheel of Fortune, but White – whose very last name hints that she’s Caucasian— is actually part-Latina!

You see, “White” is not Vanna’s real apellido—it’s the name she took from her stepfather Herbert Stackley WhiteJr., a former real estate agent in North Myrtle Beach.  Not much is known about Vanna’s real father whose name is Miguel Angel Rosich, except that he was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico and abandoned the family when she was a child.

15. Mark Ballas

Credit: markballas / Instagram

Professional ballroom dancer Mark Ballas (Dancing With the Stars) is half-Greek, and half-Mexican. Ballas’ paternal grandmother was named Maria Luisa Marulanda Ballas — and while she is not Latina herself — Ballas’ mother, Shirley Ballas is an award-winning dancer who won the 1995 International Latin American Dance Championship, earning the nickname “The Queen of Latin.” 

16. James Roday

Credit: jamesroday / Instagram

The last name trips people up, James says, but the Psych star, who’s half Mexican, changed it from Rodriguez to Roday when he launched his career for two reasons: There was already another James Rodriguez registered in the Screen Actors Guild, and an agent at the network where he landed his first job worried that they would look like they were skirting around issues of diversity by casting a white Latino.

17. Fergie

Credit: fergie / Instagram

Fergie was everywhere in the early 2000s as part of the musical group The Black Eyed Peas. But, now you know that she has Mexican ancestry in her family line.

READ: We Ranked Instagram’s 17 Most Followed Latino Celebrities And Their Claims to Fame

If You Are Looking For A Vegan Taco Crawl In Los Angeles, We Just Created It For You

Culture

If You Are Looking For A Vegan Taco Crawl In Los Angeles, We Just Created It For You

fatveganguy / Instagram

There might officially be more veganos than vegans in America, but nobody is really keeping track of Latino-American diets. For all the veganos out there looking for their next food-tour vacation, forget Portland. Los Angeles is where all of the best vegan tacos and Mexican food calls home.

Almost every taco truck would be able to accommodate you, and, yes, know whether their frijoles are vegan, because we’re everywhere in L.A. In such a competitive market for hungry vegan Latinos, we’ve generated a list of the top vegan tacos in Los Angeles. If you’re not hungry now, you’re about to be.

1. Cena Vegan

@grubshots / Instagram

Cena Vegan’s fame is all in their homemade vegan meats. The meats are so good that you can order them in bulk to use at home. At the truck, you can get carne asada, pollo asado, al pastor and a gluten-free carnitas meat option. Then, you add it to tacos, burritos, nacho boats, etc.

This Instagram reviewer puts it bluntly, “literally how are these vegan HOW. @cenavegan you’re magic.”

They’re a winner for obvious reasons.

@veganthisweekend / Instagram

You can try all four taco meats and get four tacos for $11, without having to worry if the beans are cooked in lard, or if the crema is really vegan. It’s all vegan and so good.

2. Vegatinos Food Truck

@vegatinos / Instagram

They love to serve up their vegan shrimp tacos. The few times we can find vegan shrimp are usually at all-vegan Asian restaurants. Shrimp tacos?! Only in Los Angeles.

At Vegatinos, you can get suadero and chicharron tacos before enjoying some vegan flan. 😭

@vegatinos / Instagram

Quintin L. had some interesting things to say about Vegatinos in his Yelp Review. “I’m so in love with these freaking rockstar tacos… it feels like cheating on someone because everything tastes so good that it feels like you’re doing something naughty.”

3. Plant Food for People

@plantfoodforppl / Instagram

PPFP isn’t making high-protein vegan meats like Cena, but they’re keeping it classic in a different way with signature jackfruit tacos made four different ways. Plus, you can also get their breakfast tacos made with tofu and potato scramble if you get there early enough.

4. Hijo De Su Madre

@vegnews / Instagram

From left to right, we have a beer-battered avocado, chipotle crema, and pepita slaw; soyrizo, potato hash, and guac; Beyond Meat cabbage, avocado, secret sauce. That’s not even all their options because Hijo is all-vegan.

5. Dear Mama LA

@dearmamala / Instagram

You definitely want to check out this Latina-owned taco spot when you are in LA. Her caption reads, “This hood inspired traditional flavor is just what summer needed. Our citrus marinated chick’n or Hood Chick’n will have you reminiscing on the days you were a kid and you had carne asadas with the family. This hood staple of yellow looking chicken was what most kids enjoyed! So I’m bringing it back to you with a whole lot of love. We marinate it to perfection with oranges and bell peppers and of course love 🥰🙆‍♀️🔥”

6. Trejo’s Tacos Fried Avocado Tacos

@trejostacos / Instagram

Danny Trejo has outdone himself with a chain of authentic Mexican tacos all around Los Angeles. Danny knows his clients well by offering the only version of an avocado toast we want to have for breakfast: Fried Avocado Tacos.

You should also check out their Cauliflower Chorizo Tacos.

@trejostacos / Instagram

Listen, his taco game is on point. Trejo’s alway has at least three vegan options on the menu. As of June 2019, he has Young Jackfruit with avocado crema, Mushroom Asada with pepita pesto, and Cauliflower with cashew cream.

7. Doomies Home Cookin’ and Doomies NextMex

@plantpoweredchica / Instagram

Doomies is best known for replicating America’s favorite meat dishes (like fried chicken, and Big Macs) but vegan. The reviews are in and Next Mex is where it’s at.

8. Gracias Madre

@gmweho / Instagram

This restaurant is reserved for those special nights out. It’s LA prices, but it’s outrageously delicious. You can expect to enjoy all your vegan favorites from sopes to pozole, flautas and tamales. Their jackfruit carnitas tacos are rico. top it off with flan or pineapple upside down cake and you’ll be happy as a vegan clam.

9. Olga’s Naturally

@olgasnaturally / Instagram

All their taco tortillas are handmade using organic blue maiz from Oaxaca. They always strive to source organic and also offer vegan chicken as a protein option, alongside vegan cheese quesadillas. Yup.

10. Sage Vegan Bistro

@thekindsage / Instagram

It isn’t a taco joint but they do have great tacos. Plus, they know to call them street tacos. These are “made w/ marinated jackfruit, garlic aioli, cilantro and onions on an organic corn tortilla are served all day on weekdays and after brunch on the weekends! 🌮”

11. Organix LA

@organixla / Instagram

They take Taco Tuesday very seriously with $2 vegan tacos and 20 percent off all vegan burritos. All their food is vegan, and you can enjoy anything from deep-fried vegan fish filet tacos to classic carne asada style grilled mushroom tacos like the ones you see above.

12. Chica’s Tacos

Charmaine L. / Yelp

Chica’s vegan tacos are made with spicy cauliflower chorizo and topped with a slice of marinated mushroom, avocado, and cilantro. You know they’re good because Chica’s stands by using only organic, never frozen ingredients to represent an authentic Méxican dish.

13. Un Solo Sol

@unsolosol / Instagram

They essentially offer a vegan version of almost everything on their menu ranging from nopalitos tacos to pinto bean pupusas. You know when you order veggie tacos at a non-vegan taquería and it’s just onions and pico de gallo? These guys load up their veggie tacos with actual veggies ricos.

14. Tacos La Tehuanita

@tacoslatehuanita / Instagram

Follow @tacoslatehuanita to get all the updates on where they’re parked tonight. “Yum! Come one, come all, come with hearty appetites,” are the types of rallying calls you can expect from them. You want to try the butternut squash tacos.

15. Taco Zone Truck

Alex V. / Yelp

Yelp reviewer Helen J. Puts it best. “VEGAN AND VEGETARIANS WELCOME HERE. The tacos are cheap but full of flavor. We came down here after the Griffith Observatory and these tacos hit the spot! Great food truck, friendly service, and fast at that.”

16. El Chato Taco Truck

@_malibudream_ / Instagram

Folks rave about how you can feast and still have a pile of money leftover at El Chatos. While reviewers aren’t posting pictures of the vegan option, there are a dozen reviews about how delicious the veggie tacos are. It can never hurt to check it out.

17. Guisados

@guisados / Instagram

Above are the two vegetarian options listed on the menu. We bet you could ask for it sin cotija, but the off-menu vegan accommodation is reportedly spicy. One Yelp reviewer said, “My friend who is vegan, was able to be accommodated at this place as well! He ended up getting the chiles correados taco. BEWARE!! It is extremely spicy ! But he really loved it !”

READ: 19 Dessert Tacos That Will Make Your Mouth Water

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