I think most Latinas would agree that the role food plays in our lives is an important expression of our identity and culture, as well as a key difference between us and our gringa friends. Here are 10 food habits that scream "I'm a proud Latina!"
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1. The list of comfort foods that you relish consists of fairly elaborate, home cooked meals that take hours to prepare. Regardless of what Latin American country our familias came from, we share similar ingredients of dishes. You would probably include some type of bean and/or rice dish, empanadas or pastelitos, a signature meat dish, corn-based or tamale-like recipe and lots of avocado. American 'comfort' foods like peanut butter, mac & cheese and s'mores are rarely part of that list of foods that carry such sentimental value for us. In fact, some Latinas like me have never tasted some of these foods!
2. Sofrito or a sazón starter is probably the base for many of your entrees. And let's not forget the cubito of pollo or carne to add extra flavor!
3. Our abuela NEVER used any kind of convenience or packaged food as a key component of any meal. Unless they slaved in the kitchen for hours their cooking could not show just how much they loved us! So if and when you do use a pre-made/packaged ingredient, you probably spend an hour Latinizing it or adding flavor to it to make it 'yours.' And, if we do use them, we would never admit it!
4. You probably eat more Tortillas than bread.
5. You grew up thinking that more colorful and more courses meant healthier meals.
6. Your mom used every part of the animal she cooked. And, in some cases, the entire animal is displayed for all to see! You have probably eaten or tasted tongue, ears, feet, blood, stomach and other organs. You probably also still eat meat more regularly than your gringa friends.
7. Adopting a healthier lifestyle means eating salads during the weekdays, but indulging on fried and fatty heritage dishes on the weekends and special occasions.
8. Food tastes and choices are key when considering someone to marry or accept into your circle of family or friends.
9. You'll go out of your way to find authentic, Latin restaurants to go with family or friends. And you are highly critical of imitations or Latino wannabes.
10. You use food to bring family together and to spread the love of Latin culture with your gringo friends!
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