The scents of arroz con frijoles, tacos and pupusas along with the sounds of reggaeton, bachata and salsa music transformed Susie’s into a Latin-American feast last Saturday afternoon.
A new addition to Alianza Latina’s “Latin Arts Weekend,” the Latin Arts Buffet used food to expose students to Latin-American culture.
“Latin food has always been a huge part of Latin culture,” said Isabella Oliva ’16, Co-Head of Alianza Latina. “In Latin America, there is always food at every event.… The buffet provided another opportunity for members of the community to learn and understand Latin culture. The food we cooked was a blend of the cultures of board members.”
Earlier in the day, members of Alianza Latina gathered in the kitchen of the Brace Center for Gender Studies, where they prepared the dishes and danced to salsa music.
In an email to The Phillipian, Clara Isaza-Bishop, Instructor in Spanish and Faculty Advisor to Alianza Latina, said, “The Alianza Latina board wanted to get together to cook recipes that they had learned from their families or while traveling to their ancestors’ countries. Although Latin-American food varies from country to country and region to region, there are common ingredients, such as corn, beans, rice, tomatoes, etc. What it is interesting is that each region has its own way of preparing them.”
While a majority of the dishes served were traditionally Dominican or Puerto Rican, all were common in Latin-American cuisine.
“Latin food is one of the best known traits about Latin-America, and we hoped to get people excited for the rest of Latin Arts Weekend by means of food. We also wanted to remind our peers what awesome cultures there are in Latin America,” said Bianca Navarro Bowman ’15, a board member of Alianza Latina.
One of the dishes served was empanadas, fried or baked bread or pastries usually stuffed with meat, cheese, vegetables or fruit. While empanadas are common in most Latin cultures, Alianza Latina stuffed their empanadas with cheese and meat in the Puerto Rican style.
“I have always loved empanadas, and I felt like I was at home when I was making and eating them,” said Alba Disla ’15, Co-Head of Alianza Latina. “[Empanadas are] one of the first things I think of when I think of Hispanic food. It was exciting to have people try what I eat at home and like it.”
Nya Hughes ’15, an attendee, said, “This was my first empanada, and I couldn’t believe that students my age can be so talented to make something this delicious. I can’t wait for a chance to try another empanada. I would come back next year just for the empanadas.”
The buffet also featured arepas, flatbread made from ground maize flour and frequently found in Colombian and Venezuelan cuisines. Traditionally, a labor-intensive process is required to create flour for the arepas; however, it is currently far more common to buy cooked arepa flour.
“I really enjoyed that the array of dishes went beyond the stereotypical tacos and burritos,” said Sidney Olney ’17, an attendee. “It gave me a real taste of the lifestyle and diversity of Latin-American cultures, and I considered it a wonderful meal.”