It's amazing what food choices say about how someone has been raised, their personality and the deep influence and impact that heritage, culture and today's health trends have on people! I recently hosted a couple of 'make your own pizza' dinners with family and friends, Anglos and Latinos, young and old.

Overall, my guests seem to enjoy the personalization aspect of this meal, especially the kids. I like it because it's easy, fun and affordable! My one rule, part of my "try it or you'll never know if you like it" philosophy, is to add one ingredient you've never tried on pizza before.

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I buy the ready-made crust (such as Boboli), tomato sauce (I use Hunts with oregano, basil and garlic), and then I lay out a series of ingredients that you can choose from. I slice or chop different types of cheeses, sliced veggies like green and red peppers, hot chilies, olives, mushrooms and pepperoni. So here are some of my general observations:

The Latinos: Especially the older ones who were born in Latin America seem to add more of a variety of ingredients (especially fresh produce) and spice. They seem to be less concerned about the "healthier" options.

The Gringos: Especially the little ones, seemed less adventurous with their toppings. The teens asked for "healthier" substitutes such wheat or multi-grain dough, low-fat or fat-free cheese options and some opted to have salad instead. A couple of them, who I know have no dietary restrictions or allergies, asked for gluten free options and have become fixated on restricting themselves based on the latest "read" or "research" on particular ingredients or entire food categories!

The Straddlers: Those who straddle the Latin and American cultures, such as my husband and kids, seem to draw the best from the Latino and Gringo influence. They are more adventurous with their choices, add a bit more seasoning and spice, don't overdo it on the healthier options but watch what they eat.

As a Latina who has always equated meals with family, love and celebration I still think there is a place and time to indulge in foods that feed the soul--the dulce de leche, the fried, cheese empanada, chicharrones. I don't think it's about indulging during every meal but I really hope that my kids (now young adults) don't become so obsessed with the "health" trends that are now so prevalent in American society that their attitudes towards food and meals change dramatically from a source of enjoyment to a source of tension. We need to strike a balance that's somewhere in between!

Image via Corbis

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About the author
Lucia, Co-founder and EVP of MamásLatinas, has led Hispanic media brands such as Univision's Galavision, MTV tr3s and People en Español. When Lucia is not traveling for work or in her office in NYC, she's at home with her husband and two children in New Rochelle, New York. 

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Poodles

I'm a straddler.  :)

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