Latina Eats: Exploring the Flavors of Colombia and Venezuela



This is the tenth 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.


Hey everyone! Thanks for checking in with the Latin Concentration students! With our senior thesis due in a few weeks, my classmates and I have been very preoccupied, but regardless, we’ve been having a blast down here and are sad to leave this amazing campus in three weeks. Week nine marked a shift from the beautiful Caribbean to the cuisine of South America. Similar to the Caribbean, the recipes we prepared were almost completely unfamiliar to me, meaning I learned a lot this week! Keep reading to see how the flavors of Colombia and Venezuela dominated the Latin Kitchen.


This Week in the Latin Kitchen…

We began the week learning about the beautiful cuisine of Colombia, a country in the northern part of South America. One of my favorite recipes was the fritanga, a feast consisting of delicious, succulent pork. But it gets better. This pork is prepared four ways, and although it might be a bit heavy, there’s nothing wrong with indulging in this Colombian delicacy every once in a while, right? In a fritanga you have pork ribs marinated in lime, roasted pork loin, crispy pork belly, and chorizo. It’s then served with a side of potatoes sautéed with plantains. Pretty rich. But oh, so good. Another recipe I really enjoyed was the arepa con huevo. Arepas are corn dough shaped into disks. They’re usually deep fried, grilled, or pan fried, and stuffed with cheese, chicken, or anything you may have on hand. They’re super-versatile. The arepa con huevo is fried and split open, then an egg is cracked into it and it’s fried once again to cook the egg until perfection. Check out my Instagram post capturing the magical moment when the arepa con huevo is split open…not going to lie, it’s kind of hypnotizing.


Later in the week we explored Venezuela, also a northern country located in South America. One thing I quickly discovered was that Colombia and Venezuela both integrate the arepa into their cuisine, and consider it a staple of their diets. It was also interesting to learn about the African influences in Venezuela and how they affect how the cuisine developed. One recipe that blew me away was patacones. These are fried green plantains and are often topped with meat or cheese. I topped mine with braised tender flank steak flavored with sofrito, red onion, and avocado. Interestingly enough, these crispy plantains are often treated as bread when making a sandwich. Imagine the possibilities with this recipe! A perfect substitute for people who are gluten-intolerant or for the adventurous diner who wants to try something new, patacones took me by surprise, and I’ll definitely be cooking with them again.





Arepas filled with crispy pork belly



Sweet empanada dough with a meat filling



Yucca bread



Snapper ceviche with coconut


Ancient Foods in a Modern World

Along with the three days of kitchen classes with Chef Remolina, my classmates and I also take an academic class once a week called Ancient Foods in a Modern World. This class has been very helpful for our writing skills. It also surprisingly focused on exploring the food community in San Antonio and the Latin influences around the city.


Julia Rosenfeld is our professor for this course and let me tell you, she has really helped us explore the hidden gems of San Antonio. It seems like she knows everyone around San Antonio! From restaurant owners to olive ranchers, Julia is definitely well-known in this city. When we aren’t working on our writing skills (which is what the class really focuses on), we take fun and informative field trips to learn about the rich culture of San Antonio. From Spanish missions to Texas olive ranches, Julia and Chef Remolina have truly helped us venture out and experience this city to the fullest.


Julia is very involved in the up-and-coming restaurants and other new happenings in the city. She even conducts her own food tours in San Antonio!  If my classmates or I ever have a question about where to go eat for the weekend, she’s one of the first people we ask, no doubt.


In addition to being a great guide to San Antonio, Julia is an amazing writer (she’s been doing it for over 30 years!) and has helped us with our writing skills tremendously. She’s straightforward, honest, and extremely helpful when analyzing our work. Every week, we turn in a paper simply writing what we learned that week. There are no specific prompts, just writing in our own style without any pressure. The following class she’ll pick it apart, which honestly took some getting used to. But once my classmates and I let our guard down, we realized how helpful the class is, and how much we’ve all improved our writing skills since working with her. I recently completed an extensive research paper on cactus paddles, and Julia helped me develop it into the best it could be. I really appreciated the exercises she held because they helped me develop my writing skills significantly. Thanks Julia!


Professor Rosenfeld is a very talented individual with lots to offer in terms of food, culture, and happenings around the San Antonio area. If you ever get the chance to take this class with her during the Latin concentration, consider yourself lucky.


The Countdown Begins 

Only three short weeks left in this wonderful city…so sad! The weeks keep going by faster and faster, but my classmates and I continue to grow and learn more and more thanks to the wonderful Latin concentration and our talented teachers. We can’t wait to apply what we’ve learned here to our future jobs in the industry. Lucky for us, before we leave we have the privilege of hosting our final pop-up dinner featuring South America next week—a good way to finish off the semester! Stay tuned to see what the Latin Kitchen will be cooking up next week.

Stay hungry,


Giselle Sigala

Hello everyone, my name is Giselle Sigala and I am currently a seventh-semester bachelor’s student at The Culinary Institute of America. I’m honored and excited to be the student blogger for the Latin Cuisine Concentration at the San Antonio, TX campus!

A little bit about myself:

I was born in Long Beach, CA and was raised in Fort Worth, TX since the age of 3. (So I’m a Texan at heart…Go TCU!) My parents are both immigrants from Zacatecas, Mexico, so my siblings and I are the first generation in our family to study in the United States.

Since I can remember, I have always had a fascination with cooking and anything food related. As a child, instead of playing with dolls I was begging my mother for an Easy-Bake oven. (Which I found is a common memory with a lot of CIA students. Right? No? Ok fine, I guess it was just me! Haha.) My fondest memories as a child are set in the kitchen, from helping my mom flip tortillas—I remember always burning the tips of my fingers—to the simple smell of charcoal burning on a Sunday afternoon, because this meant a carne asada was in the works…which also meant we were going to eat some great food! Yum!

A major factor that played into my decision to come to The Culinary Institute of America was the large success of my parents’ carnicerias (a Mexican meat market that sells a variety of produce and delicious baked goods). By spending most of my childhood in the carniceria’s kitchen and bakery, I quickly realized that I had a passion for Latin American cuisine. With time, I knew that there was nothing I’d rather do than to make people happy by cooking for them. Knowing this about myself helped me make my decision about coming to the CIA. And honestly, this place has given me countless amazing opportunities and experiences. The CIA has helped me pursue my dream of working in some of the best kitchens around the world, cooking Latin food, and potentially opening up my own business in the future.I couldn't imagine going anywhere else to pursue these aspirations. It is truly an amazing program that is always evolving and striving to be the best it can be.

As a CIA alum, I couldn't be happier to have chosen to pursue my career goals here. Since my graduation from the associate program in June 2015, I have come to admire and appreciate different cuisines and cultures from all over the globe. From the Cuisines of the Americas class I took to the Cuisines of Asia course, this school has taught me that I can learn so much from a culture by simply learning about their food.With that, I am excited to start my semester studying the vibrant food of Latin America at the beautiful CIA San Antonio in Texas. The campus looks amazing, and I can’t wait to write about my experiences! I invite you to check out my blog as I cook some delicious food, explore an exciting city, and learn from some of the best-trained chefs in the industry!

Giselle Sigala