Things That Matter

21 Best Cooking Tips I Learned From My Abuela

Everyone knows food tastes better in Grandma’s kitchen. But few people know why. The truth is that after decades of turning out casero meals for the family, Grandma has mastered some trick and tips that give that food a sabor that you just won’t find anywhere else.  So, we checked in with some of the top abuela’s out there, to compile this list of must-do techniques to add that special something to your home-cooked meals. Enjoy!

1. Always use fresh cilantro.

Source: Twitter@AnitaLi_

For real Latin food fried dried cilantro or cilantro powder just won’t cut it. Leave that for the gringos. When you want to get a full fresh flavor burst, buy your cilantro that day from the produce department and use it at the end of the cooking session as a garnish for the best blast to the taste buds.

2. Garnish Freely.

Source: Twitter@lanigguicatracho

This goes not just for cilantro but for everything else that you are using to add flavor to the dish. Onions, chiles, even limes are not just for looks and a touch of flavor but are integral parts of the dish and should be used much more liberally in Latin food than in food for the North American palate.

3. Marinate your meats.

Source: Twitter@TheBBQBuddha 

Why do tacos taste so damn good? Its just meat and tortillas right? The secret to the bombness of tacos is in the marinade of the meats, which not just tenderize them but add flavor and goodness all around. Marinate overnight for best effect.

4. Slow cook your cuts.

Source: Twitter@CarbSmart

Abuelas all over Latin America are used to cooking with fattier, less expensive, cuts and still making them come out juicy and delicious. The trick here is to slow cook the meat instead of trying to grill it up fast. This allows the fat to melt and the meat to cook more gently.

5. Char your veggies.

Source: Twitter@swetapadma

What’s the difference between that supermarket salsa and your abuela’s homemade salsa? Sabor? Of course, but what’s the secret? The easy answer is that by home charring the chiles, onions, tomatoes and other veggies to bring out a special roasted flavor that those store bought vinegar tasting salsas simply don’t have.

6. Get into recycling.

Source: Twitter @BrujoRincon

See those leftover chips and salsa from the party last night? That’s the perfect base for today’s chilaquiles! Grandmas have mastered this art of recycling food and use it to create super sabroso dishes on the fly out of yesterdays meals.

7. Pork Lard.

Source: Twitter@happyselvan

Yup, we said it. And don’t go asking your diet crazed friends about it or be ready for blank stares. Nothing adds flavor to everything from beans to soups like good old pork lard, there is just no way around it. Don’t believe me? Ask your abuela. 

8. Ditch the canned beans.

Source: Twitter@GinasMexican

For real though. If there is one thing that will make any abuela cringe its that stale taste of canned beans. Learn how to whip them up on your own. And don’t forget the pork lard.

9. Get to know your chiles.

Source: Twitter@LomaBrew

Adding spice to a dish take more than just shaking in some cayenne pepper. There are dozens of different chiles with not just different heat profiles but unique flavors that you need to get to know before you can cook like a real grandma. Start studying now.

10. Learn to finely chop.

Source: Twitter@foodiewinoSF  

Patience is a virtue young Jedi, and abuelas have it by the yard. The finer you chop up your ingredients the more uniformly they will cook. Big chunks are often cooked on the outside but semi-raw on the inside. This subtle thing can make a big difference.

11. Use room temperature eggs.

Source: Twitter@nicola_nicky 83

Your grandma is not just being anti-technology by keeping her eggs out of the refrigerator. Room temperature eggs whip up and blend better than cold eggs and can make or break many dishes. You will see the difference right away and gain instant grandma G status among your friends and family.

12. Do refrigerate your onions.

Source: Twitter@ProduceSimple

Ever wonder how your abuela can sit and chop onions nonstop without crying? Well it’s not just her superpowers. She also knows that by refrigerating them first she is cutting down on the amount of juice they will squirt when she chops them up. Take note.

13. Use panela for sweetener.

Source: Twitter@LaTcomprometida

 Also known as piloncillo or chancaca depending on the country, panela is pure unrefined sugar. It gives food much more flavor than white or even brown sugar and should be used every time you want to add sweetness to a dish.

14. You can also use agave.

Source: Twitter@NewAgave 

Ok, many people are worried about their sugar intake and blood glucose levels these days, even grandmas. So use agave syrup, which comes from a Mexican cactus, to sweeten up those dishes without spikes in your blood sugar.

15. Fresh squeezed limes.

Source: Twitter@LimeKing3 

You ever wonder why your abuela has a mountain of limes stacked up in her kitchen? Well its because they go in just about everything. Freshly squeezed lime juice does everything from tenderizing meat to preserving the guacamole. Use them.

16. Try using a mortar and pestle.

Source: Twitter@Ahsan14150684

Wanna know grandma’s secret for making those moles and sauces of just the right consistency? Well the truth is that nothing grinds down seeds, nuts and spices like the good old mortar and pestle, try for yourself and see!

17. Master the dry roast.

Source: Twitter@LoveFreshViet

By pre-cooking ingredients like garlic and spices in a pan with no oil, you can really bring out their flavor profile before adding them to sauces, soups or other dishes. This is also a healthy way to cook many foods that we traditionally think need to be fried in oil.

18. Use real chocolate.

Source: Twitter@michellealonso

Whether you are making hot chocolate for a traditional Colombian breakfast or a dark mole sauce for a Mexican dinner, please, please, please use real chocolate and make your abuela proud! Cocoa powders mixed with dried milk and other thickening products will just weigh down the final product and do absolutely nothing in terms of adding flavor. When it comes to chocolate, ain’t nothing like the real thing baby!

19. Use corn tortillas.

Source: Twitter@nahhhhhhhhhh_

While flour tortillas have become immensely popular in the USA and around the world, most of Latin America still uses corn tortillas for just about anything. Not only are corn tortillas more healthy and tastier but they can even be made more easily right in the comfort of your home. Now that is something that will impress your grandma!

20. While you are at it, add corn to everything.

Source: Twitter@TheSoggyChef

Since we are on the subject, why not start adding corn to more of your dishes. That’s exactly what abuelas all over Latin America do! From corn kernels in your soups to crunchy corn in your salsas, corn adds a touch of hearty goodness and traditional flavor that brings out the best in almost every dish you can imagine.

21. Get to know the tomatillo.

Source: Twitter@The_Bentley

While red tomatoes dominate the cuisine of much of North America, those tangy little green tomatillos are just as important south of the border. Mixed with jalapenos, lime, onion and even avocado, tomatillos make one incredibly delicious salsa that will soon have that red standby salsa sliding over to second place.

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UPS Delivery Man Is Fired After Video Surfaces of His Anti-Latino Racist Rant

Things That Matter

UPS Delivery Man Is Fired After Video Surfaces of His Anti-Latino Racist Rant

Photo courtesy Forward Latino

An unnamed UPS delivery driver has been fired after being caught using racist language when delivering a package to a Latino household. The incident occurred on December 17th.

The video, which was caught on a doorbell camera’s security footage, shows a white UPS driver appearing to be angry when delivering a package.

“Now you don’t get f—–g nothing…You can’t read and write and speak the f—–g English language,” he says while writing a “failed to deliver” notice and pasting it on the house’s front door.

The Aviles family says that the footage shows that the UPS worker never even attempted to deliver the package in the first place. He never rang the doorbell or knocked on the door. Based on that, the family has come to the conclusion that the driver intentionally withheld the package from the family out of prejudice and spite

They believe that the only way the driver could’ve known that the family was Latino was by making assumptions based off the name on the package.

“The only information this driver had that could serve as a trigger for this deep-seated hate was the name on the package,” said Forward Latino President Darryl Morin at a press conference addressing the incident.

“So what we have here is a very intentional act to ruin Christmas for somebody, for someone to spew this hateful rhetoric, and quite honestly to deceive their employer,” Morin continued.

Per UPS, the employee has now been fired. “There is no place in any community for racism, bigotry or hate. This is very serious and we promptly took action, terminating the driver’s employment. UPS is wholeheartedly committed to diversity, equity and inclusion,” UPS said in a statement. They also said they contacted the family to apologize.

But the Aviles family is still rattled that such bigoted people are out and about, letting their petty prejudices effect other people’s lives.

“The package was a Christmas gift that we eventually received after Christmas Day, but what if it happened to have time-sensitive content like an epipen or a book I needed to take a final,” said Shirley Aviles, the mother of the man who lives at the address, told NBC News. “I don’t get it. It’s just sad.”

Aviles seemed disturbed about what this incident says about human nature. “This is about the things people do when they think no one is watching them. That’s important because that’s when you see people’s true colors and that’s what’s scary,”

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Here Are Some Christmas Traditions From Around Latin America


Here Are Some Christmas Traditions From Around Latin America

Henry Sadura / Getty Images

Christmas is a special time of year. Families have their traditions to mark the festive year and some of those traditions are rooted in culture. Here are some of the ways various countries in Latin America celebrate Christmas.

El Pase Del Niño Viajero – Ecuador

El Pase del Niño Viajero is a pageant that happens in Ecuador that lasts weeks. The parade is meant to represent the journey of Mary and Joseph. The parade highlights the religious importance of Christmas in Ecuador and is most common in the Andean region of the country.

The biggest and most important parade is in Cuenca, a deeply religious city. Citizens near the city have all day to see the parade as it starts in the early morning and runs through the late afternoon. This gives people a lot of time to make it to the city to witness the parade.

La Gritería – Nicaragua

La Gritería comes after La Purisma. La Purisma is celebrated at the end of November and is meant to celebrate the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. La Gritería is celebrated in early December and involves literal yelling. Someone would shout “Que causa tanta alegria?” (“What causes so much happiness?”) People respond “La Concepción de María.” (“Mary’s Conception.”)

Las Posadas – Mexico

Mexican posadas are the most recognizable. Posadas take place in Mexico from Dec. 16-24, though this year they are most likely to be virtual. The posada begins with a procession in the neighborhood filled with people singing and sometimes led by two people dressed as Mary and Joseph.

Another part is the posada party. Before guests can enter, there is a song exchange with the people outside playing Joseph looking for shelter. The hosts sing the side of the innkeeper saying there is no room. Eventually, the guests are welcomed into the home to celebrate Christmas.

Aguinaldos – Colombia

Aguinaldos are a series of games played by people in Colombia leading up to Christmas. There are certain games that are common among people in Colombia. One is pajita en boca, which requires holding a straw in your mouth the entire time of a social event. Another is dar y no recibir, which is about getting people to take something you are giving to score a point.

El Quema Del Diablo – Guatemala

El quema del diablo is celebrated in early December and is a way of letting go of the previous year. People burn piñatas and effigies of the devil to let go of all negative feelings and moments from the previous year. If there was every to try a new tradition, this would be the year. Burn an effigy and banish 2020 to the past, where it belongs.

READ: These Seriously Sad Christmas Presents Were Worse Than Actual Coal

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