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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The Black Majesty At The Afro-Latino Fest NYC This Weekend Is What Dreams Are Made Of

Culture

The Black Majesty At The Afro-Latino Fest NYC This Weekend Is What Dreams Are Made Of

#afrolatinofestnyc / Instagram

With six years of celebrating Afro-Latinidad behind them, Afro-Latino Fest took to New York City for the seventh time running and it was better than ever. Latino Rebels and Futuro Media group partnered to create a social entrepreneur workshop, creating more much-needed access, and Afrolatin Talks launched their Podcast series to a live audience.

With live music, indoor and outdoor stages, and coalescence of uninterrupted culture-affirming celebration all weekend long, you can bet the whole event was like a POC dream come true.

In the last U.S. Census, more than 25 percent of all those claiming Afro-Latino heritage report living in New York City.

Credit: @blackownedbklyn / Instagram

So it makes sense that Afro-Latino Fest would go down in Brooklyn, where the bulk of the community already lives. In the last census, only 2.5 percent of all Latinos also identified as Black, which makes Brooklyn an especially special place.

Latin flags were held and celebrated showing the diversity of the Afro-Latino community.

Credit: @kirstensmetsx / Instagram

That’s just what you do at the Afro-Latino Fest. You don’t have to be afraid of someone coming up to you asking if you’re an American or be in fear to express cultural pride.

The music was next-level increíble.

Credit: @blackownedbklyn / Instagram

Internet community Black Owned Brooklyn couldn’t have described the event any better: “Celebrating all things Afrolatinidad — from music, dance and food to politics, philosophy and religion — the Afro-Latino Festival (@afrolatinofestivalnyc) returned to Brooklyn last weekend for its seventh edition. Run by husband-and-wife duo Amilcar Priestley and Mai-Elka Prado Gil (both from Brooklyn by way of Panama), the event started in 2013 as a small gathering at Flatbush’s Parkside Train Station Plaza to “affirm, celebrate and educate” around the contributions of people of African descent from Latin America and the Caribbean. It has since evolved into a two-day festival, most recently at City Point in downtown Brooklyn, featuring music from eight countries across three stages. 🇵🇦 🇩🇴 🇵🇷 🇭🇹 🇭🇳 🇨🇺 🇨🇴 🇧🇷 ⠀”

There were chingona level DJ’s setting the party mood.

Credit: @blackownedbklyn / Instagram

These identical twins, Coco and Breezy, were just one set in a lineup of incredible performance artists like Puerto Rican spoken-word poet, Felipe Luciano, Dominican singer, José Alberto “El Canario,” Haitian-American singer Tadia and all-women Mariachi group Flor de Toloache. 

Afro-Latinos of all ages were able let loose a little bit.

Credit: @blackownedbklyn / Instagram

Every child was made to feel like royalty, with Afro-Latino owned vendors like “A Princess Like Me” in attendance. This was a family event.

Of course, there were bubbles for los niños.

Credit: @aprincesslikemenyc / Instagram

Who doesn’t love a good bubble machine?! Unlike the parties many of us went to as kids, there were actual children’s events to look forward to after rubbing the red lipstick off your face from all the tía besitos. Plus, who doesn’t want to hang out with Elena of Avalor?

The festival was all about community.

Credit: @aprincesslikemenyc / Instagram

And representing your whole heritage with pride. With the festival in its seventh year running, some of the children knew each other from the year before and others made fast friends.

The festival empowered Afro-Latino vendors to empower young Afro-Latino niños to be themselves.

Credit: @aprincesslikemenyc / Instagram

Caption: “Thank you @afrolatinofestivalnyc for booking us and giving OUR kids a place to freely run, play, dance and color with PRIDE! Our Latina Princess met amazing little Latina princesses too 👑👑👑🥰 where we hosted the entire kids zone at @citypointbklyn !!! Empowering our girls one princess & party character at a time. With live singing, makeup, nails, tattoos, dancing and more we bring the party to you! Ensuring your child has the best party possible for the lowest cost in NYC it’s no wonder we only have top ratings! Ps ask us about our customized characters and package options.”

We hope they get even more business after the festival’s long over.

It also empowered Afro-Latina‘s all over the place.

Credit: @bxmary80 / Instagram

“I am so excited! #laborinqueña #Brooklyn,” wrote this festival goer. She even got to meet the artist that created the highly anticipated “La Borinqueña” superhero comic, which celebrates a Black Puerto Rican woman as the protagonist.

At the end of the day, the event was all about family.

Credit: @cjrbarnes / Instagram

The young man in this photo expressed his gratitude for the event with a post on Instagram that read, “As the son of a 🇯🇲 [Jamaican] Immigrant and a 🇨🇺[Cuban] American, I’m blessed to be able to identity with both my Caribbean and African roots. @AfroLatinoFestivalNYC exemplifies all of the richness that Africa has on our beautiful Latinx counterparts—culture personified!🌍”

READ: From Maxwell To Cardi B, These Afro-Latinos Are A Driving Force In The Music Industry Today

Every Foodie Should Familiarize Themselves With This List Of The Best Latin American Restaurants In The World

Culture

Every Foodie Should Familiarize Themselves With This List Of The Best Latin American Restaurants In The World

pujolrestaurant / rgborago / Instagram

As we reported a few days ago, Latin American chefs did pretty great at the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards in Singapore. Latin American fine cuisine got a total of nine spots in the list, and two in the top ten. This is quite an achievement for a region that is relatively new to fine dining. Cities like Mexico City and Lima have just become culinary epicenters thanks to visionaries that have translated tradition into modern masterpieces. However, credit is due to the centuries of cultural remix that has produced legendary dishes. Indigenous, colonial and other influences come together in the plate and wow judges and patrons. If these places have something in common, it is the inquisitive nature of their lead chefs. They went deep into the cultural roots of their countries, even finding new ingredients to achieve creativity and perfection.

We have to pay respect to the traditional recipes and the many years (and sometimes centuries) of experimentation by everyday cooks that led to these awards. So, we have listed some of the traditional influences that these restaurants have had. Sometimes it was all there already, and chefs just took it a step further! The restaurants in this list range from the high end to a Brazilian eatery that is relaxed and not expensive at all.

At number 6: Central (Lima, Peru), Best restaurant in South America,
Influenced by: ancient, indigenous Peruvian food

Credit: thefoodcray / Instagram

This is the flagship restaurant of kitchen wizard Virgilio Martínez Véliz, who travels deep into each region of his home country to fund ancient ingredients. He collaborates with indigenous men and women to learn about traditional ways of cooking. He has introduced ingredients such as the Amazonian piranha into the menu. His drive to experiment has made him a celebrity chef the world over. You can learn about his journey in S3E6 of the Netflix show Chef’s Table

At number 10:  Maido (Lima, Peru), Influenced by: traditional Japanese cuisine with a Peruvian twist and local ingredients

Credit: mitsuharu_maido / Instagram

A testament to the ethnic diversity of Peru. The Japanese immigration in Peru has been constant and has led this ethnic minority to have a vibrant place in the social, cultural and political life of the South American country. This restaurant is let my “Micha” Tsumura, who offers a Nikkei experience that includes classic Peruvian seafood such as sea urchin and sea snail. Lima is certainly keeping up with cities such as New York, Tokyo, and Paris, which are usually the leaders of the pack. 

3. At number 12: Pujol (Mexico City, Mexico), Best Restaurant in North America, Influenced by: traditional Mexican food, particularly from Oaxaca

Credit: pujolrestaurant / Instagram

Enrique Olvera has established himself as one of the main voices of the global fine art circuit. In his flagship Mexico City restaurant he offers dishes that use indigenous ingredients, particularly from the colorful region of Oaxaca. His team makes tortillas by hand, grinding species of corn that are rare. Olvera is not shy to experiment with ingredients that might seem “weird” to Western patrons, such as chicatana ants. A delightful experience that needs to be tasted to be believed. 

4. At number 23: Cosme (New York City), Influenced by: traditional Mexican garnachas 

Credit: cosmenyc / Instagram

A New York restaurant with a 100% Mexican soul. Created by Olvera and led by Mexican chef Daniela Soto-Innes, who has revealed herself as a unique culinary voice and was named the World’s Best Female Chef 2019. She serves Modern Mexican food that is inspired by the crunchiness and glorious saltiness of Mexican street food, or garnachas. If you want to take your carnitas, infladitas, and tamales to the next level, then this is the place for you. Sinful delights all around. By the way, the kitchen is 50% female, which goes hand in hand with the chef’s ideas of equality. She also employs people from diverse ethnic backgrounds, both from the United States and overseas. 

5. At number 24: Quintonil (Mexico City, Mexico), Influenced by: traditional Mexican cuisine

Credit: rest_quintonil / Instagram

The brainchild of chef Jorge Vallejo (who used to work at Pujol) is a tribute to the postcolonial flavors of Mexico. If Pujol strived to bring back ancient recipes, Quintonil offers new interpretations of classic everyday dishes such as tostadas de cangrejo and the luxurious escamoles (ant eggs). Even dishes that your abuelita might have made, such as Huazontles or salpicon, are featured here. Look at their take on a flauta in the photo above. 

6. At number 26: Boragó (Santiago, Chile), Influenced by: ingredients from Chile’s geographical diversity

Credit: rgborago / Instagram

Rodolfo Guzman is a raising rockstar. Like Peru’s Central, this restaurant features ingredients from every corner of the country. Rodolfo gets ingredients from the Atacama desert, all the way down to the frigid Patagonia landscapes. Have you ever tasted flowers? Well, here you can: the signature dishes is a blend of roasted flowers, Van Gogh style! 

7. At number 34: Don Julio (Buenos Aires, Argentina), Influenced by: traditional asado techniques 

Credit: donjulioparrilla / Instagram

They say that if you are going to do one thing, you do it the best you can. This restaurant led by Pablo Jesus Rivero might make the best steak in the world. Following the traditional ways of cooking meat in the Pampas, cuts like rump steak and skirt steak are cooked to perfection. Sweetbread empanadas are also a standout. The decor follows the aesthetic of a 19th-century country estancia, when European pioneers made their way into the depths of the nascent country.

8. At number 39: A Casa do Porco (São Paulo, Brazil), Influenced by: Brazilian working class cooking

Credit: acadadoporcobar / Instagram

Pork is a relatively easy stock to raise, and it has been a staple in the diets of Brazilians for centuries. Chef Jefferson Rueda reimagines everything you can do with pork. He raises the pigs on a diet of vegetables, slaughters them in house and uses every single part of the animal, making items such as blood sausages. The degustation menu is a culinary experience that also includes beans, cabbage, and banana, other staples of Brazilian home kitchens. The owners strive to make the restaurant accessible to the community, so prices are far from exorbitant. You can dine for $13 dollars.

9. At number 49: Leo (Bogotá, Colombia), Influenced by: indigenous uses of local fruits and vegetables

Credit: tevedolinsky / Instagram

Chef Leonor Espinosa has become a celebrity thanks to her bubbly personality and her use of little known ingredients such as corozo fruit, arrechon (a supposed aphrodisiac) and bijao, a banana-like plant. She learns from communities and their gastronomic traditions, creating dishes that include, for example, a crunchy coating made from ants. The menu explores different Colombian animal and plant species. A map shows where each one was sourced. The chef also runs a foundation FUNLEO, which aims to identify, reclaim and enhance the culinary traditions in Colombian communities.

READ: Mexican Food Meets Japanese Food In These Next Level Mexican Sushi Creations

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