Rich with culture and history, Hispanic and Latinx heritage has roots all over the country. National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 to recognize the contributions and influence of Hispanic Americans to the United States. One of the most visible ways we see Hispanic heritage is through their cuisine, presented through traditional dishes from the many different countries that make up the ethnic group and also fused with local cultures throughout the country. You may be familiar with tacos and salsa, however, there’s much more beyond the typical fare. It’s only right I honor some of their most popular foods here at the tail-end of the designated month.
Tacos are perhaps the most popular Hispanic food throughout the world, and for good reason. Not only does the authentic version taste out of this world, their versatility makes them easy to have no matter the time of day or flavor profile you’re craving. Although they are commonly seen in the U.S. with a hard corn shell, they are traditionally composed of a soft flour or corn tortilla topped with a flavorful, marinated meat – such as carne asada, carnitas or al pastor – and topped with chopped onion for some bite, cilantro for freshness and lime to break up the savoriness of the meat. Tacos have become a staple throughout the country in different variations.
The Spanish – specifically, Valencian – origins of this dish can be identified by its coastal influence, traditionally featuring a medley of seafood such as mussels, shrimp and squid. The rice is seasoned with the regional spice saffron, which is what gives the dish its vibrant golden hue. Chock-full with possibly other meats and vegetables, paella is a perfect food for a celebration.
This Mexican street corn is typically topped with chili powder, lime, butter, sour cream and cheese, making for a much more fun version of your everyday corn on the cob.
Many Hispanic countries have their own version of these pocket pastries, but they are typically savory fried or baked “turnovers” with different fillings such as pork or beef mixed with spices and diced vegetables.
This deep sauce is featured on other Hispanic dishes such as enchiladas, with many recipes featuring the main ingredients of chiles and chocolate, which provide a smoky and rich balance.
Hailing from Colombia and Venezuela, arepas are a simple and classic food that has regional variations. They can probably be best described as a flat, round patty made from corn or plantains and fried, sometimes with a topping or filling such as cheese, butter or avocado.
Another popular seafood-based dish, ceviche is commonly eaten in coastal countries such as Peru and Ecuador and is raw chopped fish marinated in fresh lime juice and tossed with chopped onions, salt, chili and other seasonings. Some people eat it with a tortilla, chips or by the spoonful.
Other popular Hispanic foods: churros, flan, tres leches cake, enchiladas, chilaquiles, margaritas and much more!