Culture

20 Foods And Drinks That Instantly Take Caribbean Latinos Back To Their Childhood

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For Caribbean people, there is something so intoxicating about our food. The food of our islands of origin make an Caribbean’s knees buckle and mouth water. Being in the American diaspora can look very different depending on where you are in relation to the Caribbean. South Florida and New York are filled with grocery stores, bodegas and shops carrying all of the food products that make Caribbean food what it is.

For those Caribbean descendants living in other parts of the U.S., finding your Goya products can be tricky. Some times it is just easier to learn the recipe and make things like sofrito yourself. Regardless, there is just something about the food that nourishes the body and soul.

Mofongo is one dish that every Puerto Rican will swear to be the best dish in the Caribbean.

CREDIT: @picandord / Instagram

Honestly, plantains of any variety will make an islander physically drool. For mofongo, green plantains are fried and smashed in a pillón with some variety of meat or seafood. It tastes better when you eat it straight from the wooden pillón.

Pasteles, i.e. more plantains.

CREDIT: @CookingChannel / Twitter

While mainland Latino countries use masa for their tamales, Puerto Ricans and the Dominicans use plátanos verdes y calabazas along with a pound of sofrito. They’re wrapped in banana leaves instead of corn husks but are equally as cherished around the holidays.

Obviously coquito is a major staple around the holidays.

CREDIT: @lala / Twitter

Speaking of holidays, it ain’t one until an abuelita or two brings in a gallon of coquito, Puerto Rico’s version of eggnog. You know how, if you’re Mexican, seeing holiday garland makes you need champurrado? Es lo mismo con coquito for Puerto Ricans. Starbucks can’t replicate that no matter how hard they try.

Cafecito isn’t cafecito if it’s anything but Café Bustelo.

CREDIT: @tcclockworth / Twitter

Cubans and Puerto Ricans alike will not submit to any other type of caffeine. It’s beneath us. Except Cafe La Llave if you’re in a pinch.

Even this pic of pastelitos de guayaba will make any islander drool on their phones.

CREDIT: @FeelingEmulsify / Twitter

When someone shows up to your fiesta carrying a cardboard box, there is nothing more precious you could hope for than some fresh Cuban pastelitos. Puff pastry, sweet cream cheese and guava make the world go round.

As will a box of pan de bono.

CREDIT: @5HCcSogno / Twitter

Piping hot pan de bono is like bringing lumps of gold to dinner. The tapioca based cheesy bread makes America’s grilled cheese look like trash.

Aborrajados compete hard for the center stage.

CREDIT: @elsiglocomve / Twitter

To be fair, these originate from Colombia, but they include plantain as a base so therefore, I’m salivating. If there is a banana involved, the tropical isla in me is dancing.

No Caribbean food list is complete without a classic Cubano.

CREDIT: @VisitTampaBay / Twitter

If you grew up in a Cuban household, you know the power this unassuming sandwich. The pork, mustard, pickles and buttered Cuban bread pressed on a hot griddle is everything your weekends were made of.

Did I already mention plantains?

CREDIT: @ELMADGOOD / Twitter

Well, you don’t have to go boiling and mashing and prepping plantains for hours on end (see: pasteles) to make an islander drool. Just cut up a peeled green plantain, fry, press and fry again, baby.

Bacalao con mojo? That’s a double winner.

CREDIT: @bar44penarth / Twitter

We’re islanders. Fish is going to happen and a lot of lime juice is going to happen on top of that. Plus, we always have garlic breath because it is a staple in most of our foods. Bring on the mojo.

Sofrito is the base for everything holy about Caribbean food.

CREDIT: @SoxyStrawberry / Twitter

It takes a while to make but it is so worth the hard work you have to put in. It is the base of so many different foods and adds a very delicious and culturally important taste to their dishes.

Picadillo was for dinner almost every night.

CREDIT: @TheKitchenista / Twitter

You wouldn’t going to eat it without half a jar of banana peppers on top. Plus, it’s a vehicle for rice, which is just too obvious a salivary trigger to even list here.

Pero, let’s talk about yucca, fam.

CREDIT: @cedellamarley / Twitter

I grew up on this when I lived in Miami, but since jetting off further into the diaspora, it’s hard to come by. Yucca fries are la casada perfecta of my identity as Latina-American. It’s the food I would choose to eat forever if someone made me.

The empanadas are also something to admire.

CREDIT: @Rodriguez_Rotisserie_chick / Instagram

I don’t even know what these are called, but I know I grew up on them at every extended family gathering. Folks would divide and conquer their local panaderías and we would feast.

Mashed Yucca is nothing to snuff at.

CREDIT: “Mashed Yuca with Mojo” Digital Image. Eating Well. 10 November 2018.

While my assimilated American self is here for yucca fries, the jóven in me longs for mashed yucca at the Thanksgiving table. All that olive oil and garlic is the key to a happy (albeit single) life.

Croquetas are life-changing.

CREDIT: @Croquetilla25 / Twitter

The only way I know how to eat these is a dozen at a time fighting to the death against my cousins and brothers to stuff my face to the max. It’s a struggle because I still do that even though there is zero competition and a very full gordita belly para cuidar.

Ropa Vieja is that old-school love.

CREDIT: @CocoandAsh / Twitter

An actual national dish of Cuba and honorary dish of Puerto Rico. The shredded beef is in a sofrito sauce that is sweeter than most other dishes and it’s smell will attract islanders like a moth to a flame.

Flan de coco, man.

CREDIT: @505Nomad / Twitter

As far as I know, every other one of my Boricua family members cannot physically do dairy (but they do it anyway to the horror of anyone having to breathe the same air). Maybe that’s why our flan is made from coconut milk. Maybe it’s because we’re from a tropical paradise of coconut trees. Who can say which came first?

And of course, arroz con leche.

CREDIT: @anime_freak2004 / Twitter

This dish came from our invading nation of Spain, but Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic make it with coconut milk instead of cow’s milk. Plus, the raisins are soaked in good Puerto Rican rum.

You don’t have to go to the mother island to make a Puerto Rican, Dominican or Cuban salivate though.

CREDIT: @jess_cahhh / Twitter

Whip out a Kern’s Nectar of any variety and we’ll be talking you up and down until we can have a sip of that tropics-infused sugar water. After all, all this food makes us salivate for home and sometimes that feeling of nostalgia (on or off brand) is all we need to hit the spot.


READ: Check Out These Croqueta Recipes If You Need Some Good Cuban Comfort Food

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Glass Gem Corn Is Getting A Lot Of Love After A Man Tweeted His First Harvest Of The Season

Culture

Glass Gem Corn Is Getting A Lot Of Love After A Man Tweeted His First Harvest Of The Season

While the Internet might call it “Ghey Corn,” this rainbow-colored corn variety is officially dubbed Glass Gem corn. Not only are there a rainbow of colorful kernels, but they’re also shiny, prompting the ‘Glass’ description. The person responsible for our new favorite, gay-friendly corn is a man by the name of Carl Barnes, who passed in 2016. Barnes enjoyed his life in Oklahoma and cultivated his own personal seed bank passed down from his Cherokee ancestors. Barnes chose to save and replant the seeds from the cobs with the most color, and eventually developed strains of vibrant corn.

One day, Barnes decided to move and asked his friend, Greg Schoen, to protect the seeds. Schoen grew a small handful of the seeds and was shocked when he peeled back the corn stalk to reveal rows and rows of shiny, rainbow-colored corn. Schoen was so excited, he posted the image to his Facebook, and it promptly went viral. Soon, the two cultivated enough seeds to sell online, and people around the country have grown gorgeous varieties.

Green thumbs around the world bought satchels of the precious seed and the following season, were “blown away.”

Credit: @watermicrobe / Twitter

While Schoen may have initiated the first viral sensation over Glass Gem corn in 2012, Ameet Pinto’s viral post has become Mother Nature’s best queer bait yet. With over 7k likes, “I STAN GAY CORN” is the most liked comment. Then, “Taste the rainbow.” 

Some people literally cannot believe this is corn, accusing Pinto of creating a jelly bean cob.

Credit: @mr_plantgeek / Twitter

“Those are just jellybeans ur not foolin me!!!!!” commented one unbeliever. Someone else seems to think that a profitable venture would be to sell the kernels as jelly beans as a scam. Still, others are bringing the negativity to this rainbow party, assuming that because the cob looks different from the mono-crop, that it must be a GMO frankencorn. “Glad to see people trying to live in Chernobyl,” tweets one disbelieving Shane. 

Glass Gem corn is not a GMO crop.

Credit: @Rainmaker1973 / Twitter

In fact, this variety likely healthier than the corn you might buy at a store, which may have been genetically modified rather than artificially selected. Barnes artificially selected the prettiest corn from his crop and decided to grow from those seeds the following year.

When folks hear the story of Carl Barnes, it just adds a whole new depth to the color.

Credit: @CwdickD / Twitter

“Fun fact about these is that they were discovered by a dude who was half-Cherokee and he started growing a sh**load of different corn types to reconnect with his heritage,” tweeted one person. As Barnes was artificially selecting which corn kernels he’d store as seeds for the next year, he grew closer with his Cherokee heritage.

For those of you expecting rainbow colored popcorn, don’t.

Credit: Glass Gem Corn / Facebook

All that’s left of the kernel when you pop the corn is usually that brown kernel skin that gets stuck in your teeth. In the case of Glass Gem corn, you can sort of make out the varying colors of popped kernels, but the popcorn itself is the same color as regular Joe Schmoe popcorn.

The Glass Gem corn isn’t that sweet.

Credit: @SlowFoodUSA / Twitter

According to Pinto, the corn isn’t sweet like yellow corn, so it doesn’t make for good fresh esquites or elotes. All popcorn comes from different varieties of corn that you have to dehydrate to turn into cornmeal or popcorn. “We’ll be eating some colorful popcorn this winter,” Ameet tweeted.

There’s even a Facebook group for Glass Gem growers to share their growing tips and cooking tips.

Credit: Glass Gem Corn / Facebook

In case you were wondering, the Facebook group “Glass Gem Corn” says you can prepare creamy Glass Gem polenta by following these instructions: “Pour into a shallow pan to cool. Cut into squares and lightly brown in a sauté pan.” We don’t know how you do it but keep on making gay polenta, please.

All in all, the Internet is pretty a-maize-d by the gay corn.

Credit: @DonConklin5 / Twitter

“Corn says lgbtq rights,” tweeted one stan. We’re with them. This is one of those moments that we’re allowed to be in wonder over how indigenous folks cultivate the land.

READ: Oaxaca Is Mexico’s Cultural Capital And Home To Its Largest Indigenous Communities, Here’s What You Need To Know

PSA: Here Is How You Can Pit An Avocado And Not Give Yourself Avocado Hand

Culture

PSA: Here Is How You Can Pit An Avocado And Not Give Yourself Avocado Hand

candypandawax / _sylviecouture_ / Instagram

So yes, there have been multiple reports of people injuring their hands while trying to cut and remove the pits of avocados. But this should not keep us away from one of the Latin American fruits par excellence. The avocado tree probably has its origin in South Central Mexico. In strict terms, the avocado is a berry with a very large pit in the middle. 

Avocado is one of the great gifts of the Americas to the world, as commercial production has expanded all throughout the world. The tree benefits from war, Mediterranean climates and thrives in semiarid landscapes. In Australia, for example, avocado, locally known as simply “avo” is perhaps the most popular fruit. Avo on toast is a staple in cafes and homes all through the country. 

However, the expansion of avocado has also brought some minor tragedies with it due to the lack of experience that some home cooks have in the arts of fruit chopping.

Credit: animationblock / Giphy

Yes, we are actually not kidding: avocado slicing has spilled more blood than a serial killer in a slasher film!

A nicely sliced avocado has got to be one of the most beautiful sights on planet Earth! We understand why people want to get it just right. 

Credit: the_chopping_block / Instagram

Seriously. This fleshy fruit gives us beautiful hues of green when opened and its firm meat allows us to shape in in all kinds of interesting ways. Close your eyed and imagine a bowl of perfect avocado cubes… you will smell a fresh tortilla heating on the comal. Taquito de aguacate, anyone?

So first things first: the infamous “Avocado Hand.”

Credit: @gabbytakesnaps / Twitter

This seems to be a sort of accidental outbreak of lack of common sense among gringos worldwide (and by gringos we also mean British, Canadian, Australian and European folk). According to Food & Wine, “approximately 8,900 emergency room visits in 2018 could be directly tied to avocados”. That is like a small town of people running around the kitchen like headless chickens holding a paper towel to their hands and screaming “Oh-My-God” while shedding a tear. 

And no, it is not an urban legend, Avocado Hand actually exists.

Credit: @mrsfergusonxoxo / Twitter

So contrary to, say, apples, avocados have a soft skin and soft flesh. And contrary to, say, watermelon, they do not have a hard bit to get through. Some people underestimate how easily the knife will cut through the flesh and end up putting too much pressure on the knife while keeping their palms or fingers directly opposite. The result: blades penetrate through human flesh, savaging skin and painting a symphony of crimson pain. But avocado is soft and cuts easily, and everyone should know that. In Mexico, the government once financed a campaign to promote avocado consumption, and called the fruit “the butter of vegetables”. 

Some people are just displaying their injuries like war wounds to be proud of

Credit: candypandawax / Instagram

In this day and age of selfies and a sometimes unhealthy obsession with self-branding, some are actually publishing photos of their avocado hands as if they were a badge of honor. Seriously, ladies and dudes, no one wants to see those stitches and gooey stuff coming out of your fingers, especially not on a closeup. Please just don’t! 

And even get tattoos to celebrate the accident.

Credit: _sylviecouture_ / Instagram

Well, we actually have to admit this one is pretty funny and kinda cool. We love the minimalist outline and the dramatic nature of this skin art piece. It is Shakespearean and hipster in equal measures. 

So avocado hand pins are a thing, apparently.

Credit: toucantango / Instagram

Do you know how Boy and Girl Scouts wear all sorts of badges on their uniforms to celebrate their achievements? Well, if you had an avocado hand incident and for some reason, you are proud of it, you can wear this pin. Alternatively, you could also wear it as a reminder of your encounter with the cuchillo, so you remember to be very careful when cutting and pitting a delicious avocado. 

Use a spoon, people.

Credit: @qvh / Twitter

So here’s the deal. Using a knife to take the seed out might look cool, but it is not for everyone. Do it safely and please use a spoon and just scoop the seed out. You might lose some of the flesh, but that’s OK (better than losing a finger). 

This technique is for expert knife-handlers only, so don’t attempt at home. Frankly, this is a show off technique for mamones.

Credit: mashable / Giphy

Seriously, this technique is a bit silly even for experienced cooks. 

If you are feeling creative, pixelate your avocado.

Credit: Anonymous / Giphy

One of the newest hipster trends in the cafe industry is to serve pixelated avocados, which basically look like this. Just use an extremely thin and sharp knife, place the avocado on board, get your fingers away from the bottom of the fruit and cut it in cubes, little by little, stopping just before you hit the skin. The results are fun and give us una onda de los ochentas

And some people take their carving obsession to the extreme: introducing avocado art.

Credit: theavocadoshow / Instagram

Just wow. This is already an Instagram trend and features some pretty dedicated avocado lovers. The fruit gets all-black quickly after being cut open when exposed to room temperature, so the most experiences avocado carvers perfect their skills in walk-in fridges. Yes, it is pretty, but with all due respect, it is also a little pointless. 

But if you think you just can’t slice an avocado without injuring yourself, you can get one of these contraptions.

Credit: takemymoney / Instagram

If you have to trust or faith in your abilities, you can buy one of these plastic utensils that cut, slice and pit avocados in a safe, child-friendly way. No blades or pointy ends to be scared of! No one if judging if you get one! This is actually a good tool to get the chamaquitos to help in the kitchen. Guacamole para todos!

But always remember avocados are not to blame.

As they say, don’t shoot the messenger. The humble avocado is just the conduit through which an entire generation of foodies has come to the realization that they suck at handling knives. We also have to be aware of the fact that thousands of farmers and workers depend on avocado crops. In the state of Michoacan, in central Mexico, many families survive working in big avocado plantations. This state has been ravaged by cartel-related violence and the avocado industry is one of the few stable sectors in the industry. So think twice before affecting the industry. 

By the way, the word avocado comes from aguacate, which comes from an indigenous word that means testicles… you are welcome.

Credit: makeitmove / Giphy

Yes, the English word avocado comes from the Spanish aguacate, which in turn comes from the Nahuatl word āhuacatl. This word, you guessed it, means “testicle”. This is probably due to the likeness of the fruit and the male body part. We dare you to eat your next avocado and not think about this. Smashed avocado, compadres? Ouch!

READ: Avocado Hand Is Sending People To The ER In Record Numbers And Abuelas Everywhere Are Left Asking Why