Are the Minions Latino? No, but there’s a reason you can understand some of what they say.
In case you’re still wondering what language the Minions — those adorable little yellow dudes from “Despicable Me” — speak, Latino USA’s Antonia Cereijido has just the answer you need. If you’ve watched a movie with these adorable, accident-prone henchmen, you’ve probably understood a few words here and there. Hearing them say things like “para tu” might make you think they’ve got a ‘lil Latino in ’em, but they’re not. To get to the bottom of Minionese (the official language of Minions), Cereijido tracked down Pierre Coffin, co-drector of the “Despicable Me” movies and the voice of ALL the Minions. Coffin confirms that the Minions are not Latino, although he does use some Spanish words and foods, along with words and foods from every language on the planet, to create Minionese. If you really want to nerd out, Minions have *technically* been around since the beginning of time, which means they’ve been exposed to all the languages of the world. That’s why they’re familiar with the second most spoken language in the world, Spanish.
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For many of us, our ability to speak Spanish or Portuguese is a huge part of our Latinidad. But with millions of people speaking Indigenous languages in Latin America, we know this is far from the truth. Spanish is, of course, one thing that unites most of Latin America together, but it’s a language that was imposed on us. It’s one reason some Mexican writers have rejected Spanish to write in Indigenous languages. For those of us who are interested in learning Indigenous languages, technology has become a serious lifeline.
We already use apps for dating and social media to checking the weather or shopping, so why not use it to help us get in touch with our deeper identity?
Several apps have sprung over the last few years to help us learn the Indigenous languages of Latin America. If you’re looking to take on a new language, here are a few apps you should check out:
With an estimated 1.5 million speakers, Náhuatl is the most commonly spoken Indigenous language in Mexico. Yet despite its prevalence in rural Mexico, there are still few courses or resources available for learning it.
The digital app “Vamos a Aprender Náhuatl” (Let’s Learn Náhuatl) offers learners the chance to approach the language as spoken in the town of Acatlán, in the southern state of Guerrero. In a self-taught manner, you can learn the numbers, greetings, animals, body parts, fruits, plants, and some verbs. The app – which is in Spanish and Náhuatl – also features quizzes to help users retain their lessons.
Kernaia has also developed an app for learning Mixtec, a branch of Indigenous languages spoken by more than half a million people. The app allows learners to navigate through 20 language lessons which teach greetings, numbers, and colors. The lessons are all set in the Santa Inés de Zaragoza community in the southern state of Oaxaca, and the app teaches people about the culture and traditions of the community.
The Kernaia project says that its mission is to create “an ecosystem of digital content for Indigenous languages.” To move toward this goal, the organization has created a similar app for Purépecha, a language spoken by nearly 200,000 people in the western state of Michoacán.
After the passing of Mexico’s Indigenous language law in 2000, languages including Purépecha were given official status equal with Spanish in the areas where it is spoken. Digital learning aids such as those offered by Kernaia are vital to heightening awareness of both the Purépecha language and the culture of the Purépecha people, who often experience poverty and marginalization.
As well as teaching words related to daily activities, Kernaia’s website says that the app offers a journey into “the space where they take place: the family, the community, the kitchen, the field, the celebrations, and other elements that represent the town’s identity and enrich our cultural diversity.”
Quechua’s one of the most widely spoken indigenous language in the Americas. PromPerú developed the Habla Quechua app “with the aim of inspiring Peruvian citizens and foreigners to use and take an interest in the Quechua language.” The app – which is available to English, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish speakers – features quizzes and a live translator feature.
DuoLingo offers courses in more than 20 languages, including the Jopará dialect of Guaraní, which is spoken in Paraguay. There is also a course for Navajo that is currently in Beta. The app offers quizzes and immediate grading.
So what do you think? Are there any Indigenous languages you’d like to learn that don’t have an app yet?
We don’t know what the rest of the world does with corn, but Latinos know how to treat corn right. That’s probably because corn comes from Mexico, and through colonization and globalization, the juicy vegetable has spread to all corners of the world. The corn industry is massive–used to create ethanol fuel, alcohol, cornstarch, and even animal feed. Nope. Not for us.
Mexicans and other Latinos have a more one-on-one relationship with the crop. We’ve turned corn into a staple dish–using the masa to make tortillas, tamales, and desserts. Eloteros have been lovingly feeding us elotes and esquites for a century. Before the elotero proper, it was all of our mamis turning one husky crop into a delicious variety of breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Only a Latino could turn this…
Typically, the elotero will boil corn in their husks (to retain the most flavor) and transport them for the elotes. For esquites, they boil the corn in the husk and then dehusk and kernels are taken off of the cob. It’s typically seasoned and kept warm in a big pot, ready to be scooped and topped with cotija cheese.
That said, an elotero with a grill on hand has been feeding us for generations. There’s nothing better than an ear of crispy charred corn on the cob drenched in cheese and Taki dust.
Into something so beautiful and drool-worthy: 🤤 🤤 🤤
Throughout the years (and the advent of Instagram), we’ve gotten a lot more creative with presentation. We’re trying all different kinds of dustings and flavorings for the Instagram post and the flavors.
How’s it done? Chef German Correa, the possible source of the “Unicorn Elote,” said that he uses food coloring to dye mayo and then “paints” the elotes. The blue is made of blue mayo, and the rest is actually multi-colored cheeses. Rainbow elotes don’t have to be your thing.
The Pavlov test works best with a classic elote, imho.
If you didn’t feel a pang of hunger or a little extra drool than usual, you haven’t had a good elote. The classic fixings of butter or mayo, melted cheese, and chili powder are enough to make anyone an addict. It’s not the worst vice. 😉
In Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, elotes are topped with lechon, cheddar cheese and bacon. It’s no snack or side dish. It’s the whole main meal. The further North in Mexico you go, the more toppings you’ll get on the elote. That isn’t quite true in the U.S., but you get the picture.
Latinos are the most creative and resourceful people. Don’t @ me.
Like everything else in our culture, there are a million different old wives tales about the origins of this brand of elote. More specifically–the variety of accounts range in who came up with the idea. We all know it was someone who shamelessly pours the Taki dust into their throats at the end of the bag and realized if it sticks so well to my fingers… imagine on an elote.
Regardless of which Latino came up with the idea, it’s going down as a Wonder of the World. Only our generation could combine a traditional Mexican food staple with junk food to make its own food group. It’s kind of our generation in a nutshell–the foundation comes from our padres with a sprinkle of the 21st century.
Only a true elote fan could taste test the difference between a Flaming Hot Cheetos and Taki elote.
To be honest, this seems like a low bar for our people but watch anyone else try one of these and start crying because of the spice. It’s how corn was meant to taste, honey. Spicy. 😛
Cuidado, apparently doctors are alerting the public to an influx of children in their emergency rooms because they ate too many Flaming Hot Cheetos. Not to fear–the base spice is chile and it’s the spice that helped all our ancestors flourish. Spice is in our blood.
Let it be known that San Francisco has an Elote Festival coming up this June 22-23.
For all you NorCal Latinos who are missing the Angelino luxuries of an elotero or five in almost every neighborhood in Los Angeles, some relief is coming your way. Prepare yourself. It’s called “ELOTE–The Corniest Festival Yet!”
Apparently, it’s the first elote festival in NorCal but promises to have all the classics plus elote tots, esquite topped corn dogs and more. There will be at least ten eloteros serving “elote specials,” plus a Mercadito del Encanto. All vendors are Latinx and dogs are welcome! You can find tickets on Eventbrite or search for the “Corniest Festival Yet” on Facebook. So corny.
In our world, there’s no competition between the elote and esquites.
They’re both literally cut from the same tasty cloth, and frankly, the choice almost always comes down to whether you feel comfortable looking like a slob in your company or not. You have esquites on your lunch break and you bring that elote home to eat while watching Vida. Either way, you need 4-47 napkins handy to wipe up a very beautiful mess.
Fun fact: the word esquites comes from Náhuatl’s word ízquitl.
Ízquitl and icehqui both mean “to toast.” You would do that on a comal (which means griddle). The story goes that esquites were created by Tlaxocihualpili, the woman ruler of Xochimilco from 1335 to 1347.
The truly ‘classic’ esquites is made with chopped onion, fried green chile, and pollo. It’s topped with lime juice and mayo or sour cream, cotija, chile, and salt.
The classic esquites is comfort food like no other.
I don’t know how we do it, given that Latinos are far more likely to be lactose intolerant than many other races, pero ya estamos. Traditional elotes have evolved in the U.S. to include an abundance of cheese.
Different states in Mexico make it in different ways. In Aguascalientes, the esquites are called chasks and have bacon, mushroom, and strips of chile in them. In Tampico, they’re made with boiled instead of fried corn. In Sonora, they’re sweet–cooked with molasses. In Hidalgo, they’re made with pulque, onion, chile, and epazote.
In Puebla, it looks more like a soup and is called chileatole.
That’s because it’s made with ground serrano peppers and even has a bit of corn dough to make the soup thicker. Add corn, epazote, salt and more water than usual and it’s Puebla’s version of esquites.
Even Dodger’s Stadium, in Los Angeles, is serving up esquites in little helmet bowls.
There’s a reason we root for the Dodgers so hard. The stadium’s menu includes a ‘Dodger Dog,’ which is famous for being topped with esquites. You can also order esquite fries with your michelada.
While there are a couple of healthy carts, the vast majority of Dodger Stadium food consists of carne asada fries, tacos, and so much esquite.
Another beautiful example of the resourcefulness of our people:
We’ve been saving plastic containers for eons by using husks and plantain leaves to wrap up our version of a sandwich (read: tamal). These husks make decent napkins, too. Don’t play like you haven’t done it before.