Here Are Some Delectable Latino Foods To Heighten Your Hanukkah Menu This Year
It’s the holiday season, which means nearly every Latino of religious faith or of none are coming together to celebrate food and family. While most Latinos think Nochebuena is the official holiday of Latinos, our community is just as diverse in skin tone as we are in religion. Food has a poetic way of invoking the spirit of our ancestors and enriching our bodies in real-time with their own recipes and heritage. Latino-American Jews invariably have an ancestral arc that began in Europe and made its way to Latin America under duress from religious persecution either from the Spanish Inquisition or from Nazi Germany a couple of hundred years later. They fled to Latin America where Latino Jews have a strong community, and some eventually immigrated to the United States where an even smaller community of Latino-American Jews exists. Anti-semitism may be the catalyst for the Jewish diaspora, but a persistent, inherited hope for a better life is the driving force. For Latino Jews, an even wider array of recipes are available to work its ancestral alchemist magic to invoke the settled feeling of home.
With Hannukah just days away and grocery lists left blank on the page, might we recommend some of these tan rico Hanukkah dishes.
For Latina-Jewish eCurry blogger, “latkes are softly intertwined with the memories of warm and cozy meets during the Hanukkah feast in my daughter’s preschool with equally warm and cozy friends, teachers and children. Along with it are woven the dreidels, the lighting of the menorah, the chant of the prayers and of course the music which still rings in my ears.” For Jews living in the South American Andes’ highlands, the Peruvian Purple Potato would have been more widely available than white potatoes.
Julian Medina, a Mexico City-born and raised chef who later converted to Judaism, has gifted the Festival of Lights his very own recipes that marry the two cultures together. With the flavors of Hanukkah and the Mexican experience of eating a well-made taco, come los tacos de brisket. The tortillas are made of Matzo meal instead of cornflour and the brisket is flavored with Bohemia beer and sofrito. You can’t go wrong.
You heard that right, and it’s not wrong. Chef Medina has done it again and it’s quite easy to accomplish. If you know how to make guacamole and whitefish salad, then you know how to make this recipe. If you’re hosting a holiday party and know that one of your Latino friends celebrate Hanukkah, this may be the perfect dish to ensure they feel welcome and seen. Just be sure to use kosher salt in the Guacamole. The whitefish salad is close to a similar Jewish salad though Medina offers to top it with cilantro. It’s the perfect appetizer or party sampler dish when paired together!
Hanukkah is all about the fried food to celebrate the miraculous oil that just kept on giving. While buñelos have become a major treat in Latin American countries, in Hebrew, they’re called bimuelos. While you don’t have to do anything different than how your abuelita taught you to make them, they make the perfect Hanukkah dish given their leavened doughy, deep-fried goodness. With a dash of sugar and spice in the dough, which must be proofed for at least an hour. You can poke a hole through the middle to make fried donuts or fry the classic buñelos in a pan. Drizzle with honey and disfruten. Honey is the magic ingredient.
That’s right my fellow Boricuas, sofrito might be the ultimate symbol and base of our cuisine, but Spanish Jews had long been using the garlic, onion, pepper, tomatoes, cumin, and olive oil base salsa to slow-cook chicken, veal, beef or lamb by Spanish Sephardic Jews. In fact, we owe it to the Sephardic Jews who were expelled from Spain during the Spanish Inquisition for bringing their recipes with them. Their cultural influence made an impact on Spanish cuisine, which then had a ripple effect on Latin America as it became colonized by Spain. Originally, sofrito was most often celebrated in the Balkans, the Levant, Turkey, and the Maghreb before making its way to become a Puerto Rican staple. Whatever you decide to make for your Hanukkah meal, including sofrito is a no-brainer crowd pleaser.