Latina Eats: Cooking to the Beat of the Caribbean


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This is the ninth entry of a multi-part series by our student blogger Giselle.  Check back each week for the next installment of her experience during her semester away in San Antonio.

 

Hello everyone, thanks for checking out what the Latin Concentration has been up to this week! I’m already feeling sad because the end of our journey with Chef Remolina and the San Antonio campus is approaching…*tear*…but we’re enjoying every single second here and really embracing the new things we’re learning every day. So let’s see what the Latin Kitchen was up to this week!

 

This Week In The Latin Kitchen…

 

Latin Caribbean was the theme this week, and it was one of the most fun weeks I’ve had here in San Antonio. I’m pretty sure we were playing music and dancing as much as we were cooking. Not a bad time at all! This section of the program was unique because it was something I was completely unfamiliar with. I’ve never been exposed to Puerto Rican, Cuban, and other foods of the Caribbean like I had been this week. It felt like discovering a treasure that had been hidden from me my whole life.

I ask myself, “How can I describe the food of the Caribbean?” and it’s a really difficult question to answer without generalizing the islands as one. They are all so different from one another—the culture, the food, the people. So if I had to answer that question, I would describe the food as lively. There is so much positive energy, music, and dancing in this part of the world, and it’s all reflected in the food. We were able to represent what we learned this week at our third pop-up dinner, where we had a very talented guest chef join the party.

 

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Decorations inside the Latin Kitchen

 

Pop-Up Dinner with Chef Nelson Millián

 

Our third dinner was made possible with the help of a Puerto Rico native, Chef Nelson Millián. Chef Nelson is the executive chef at the San Antonio Country Club and is very involved with the CIA. He taught our class all week, and he was so passionate about the beautiful food of the Latin Caribbean. My classmates and I enjoyed learning from this very talented man, and we are so grateful to have yet another amazing experience under our belt.

He organized a menu that reflected the food of the Latin Caribbean with dishes like alcapurria (a stuffed and fried yucca fritter resembling a croquette), mofongo, and pinononos (plantain cups filled with a savory stuffing). The dinner for 16 went smoothly thanks to our team working well together, and to the guidance of Chef Nelson and Chef Remolina.

 

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The table setup

 

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Chef Remolina cooking passed appetizers during the pop-up dinner

 

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Introducing ourselves to the guests

 

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Fried snapper, mofongo, chorizo sauce

 

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Making mofongo

 

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Pionono, shrimp stuffing, sofrito, herb salad

 

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Alcapurria, picadillo (meat filling), herb salad

 

Bringing the Music to the Kitchen

 

In addition to Chef Nelson bringing in his knife kit and apron, he also brought musical instruments. So basically, this week was a music/cooking/dancing class all in one. Can you say multitalented? While we were cooking, we would take breaks and have a jam session playing instruments like the conga, maracas, and the güiro. So much fun!

Chef Nelson would play the music of the country that we were studying that day, saying, “When we’re cooking the food of this region, playing their music helps you guys understand the culture better.” And he was so right; the upbeat music playing in the background while we cooked Dominican, Cuban, and Puerto Rican food felt like we were really immersing ourselves in those cultures. It was an amazing week of dancing, singing, and cooking food of the islands.

 

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Greg, Juan, and Maria jamming out

 

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Playing Chef Nelson’s instruments

 

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Chef teaching my classmate Edna how to play the bongo

 

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After the pop-up dinner

 

Four Weeks and One Pop-Up Dinner to Go

 

Amazing music, food, and company all contributed to this extremely fun week in the Latin Kitchen. It was great learning about ingredients that I was completely unfamiliar with; it shows how every day I’m expanding my knowledge even more about Latin food.

Chef Nelson was so kind in taking time out of his busy schedule to help us with our third pop-up dinner, and for that my classmates and I are very grateful. Gracias Chef!

Our final pop-up dinner will be featuring the food of South America. Being that this will be our very last dinner, my classmates and I will be going out with a bang, that’s for sure. Stay tuned to see what we cook up for that final dinner!

 

Until next time,

Giselle

 

Giselle Sigala