Latina Eats: Learning, Growing and Eating in San Antonio
Hello friends; I hope everyone is doing well!
The past few weeks in San Antonio have been very rainy, but the sun finally decided to come out, so I’ve been taking advantage of that! Let’s see what my classmates and I have been up to during our fifth week in the Latin concentration.
This Week In the Latin Kitchen…
We roasted a whole pig!
What an experience. This was a continuation of outdoor cooking techniques. It was great be-cause we cooked a pig inside a caja china—a wooden box used to roast whole pork with char-coal and used a lot in Cuban cooking. The technique is similar to the cabrito we cooked last week in that it requires a lot of care and attention to the heat and the amount of charcoal you use.
But nonetheless, the babysitting and waiting was all worth it when we finally got to try the succu-lent and flavorful pork. We marinated it in onion, garlic, and rosemary the day before, and those flavors really came out the next day when we roasted it. So delicious!
One of the things that surprised me about this day was a cooking technique we were introduced to called rescoldo. This word translates to ash or embers in Spanish, and it involves cooking on top of ashes. We used the residual heat from the coals that the pork was cooking under and cooked a variety of fresh vegetables. The amount of flavors they gained from cooking on top of the ashes was unbelievable. Simply cooked with a little bit of salt, then dressed with lime and olive oil, the vegetables were perfectly cooked and well-seasoned.
Simplicity at its finest.
The Caja China
My classmate, Greg, helping Chef Remolina place the pork inside the caja china.
Chef Remolina preparing to place the charcoal on top of the caja china
The final product
Our Very First Latin Pop-up Dinner…What???
Yes, you heard that right. The Latin concentration allows us to plan and host four of our very own pop-up dinners for 16 guests each. This week was our first dinner, and the tickets were sold out almost immediately!
This is what you call a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
During this amazing opportunity, my classmates and I were able to express our creativity with food and show the diners what we’ve learned so far about Latin cuisine. Our very first pop-up dinner was based on everything we’ve learned up until this point, so it’s no surprise that the theme was…
With Chef Remolina’s guidance, we created a menu that would reflect the many ways to use corn in food. From the menu to smaller details like dishes and glassware, we all had a say in what the diners’ experience was going to be like. Our first pop-up this week was very memorable because of the level of involvement it demanded from the five of us in the class. It took a lot of planning and organization, but it was rewarding to see the guests enjoy their experience.
One of the guests we had for the pop-up dinner was a top food and lifestyle blogger named Car-ly. She runs a blog called Soul Flutter which covers everything from the food scene in San An-tonio to fashion and beauty tips! She was so sweet, and she is actually going to be posting about her experience at our dinner! I’ll definitely be checking out her blog to see where to eat around the San Antonio area.
Here’s the link to her blog so you can see what our dinner was like from a guest’s perspective: http://mysoulflutter.com
I can’t wait to show y’all what we’re planning for our next dinner. It has a very cool theme, and who knows… there might be a very special guest joining us!
My classmate Juan during one of our group meetings for our first pop-up dinner
Our menu for the corn-inspired dinner
My classmates, Edna and Maria, plating the duck tamal
Duck tamal, tomatillo and cilantro sauce, confit duck leg
Lobster tostada, lemon crema, radish, cilantro
Tascalate ice cream, esquite ‘dip n dots’, chicha morada sorbet
Mission San Juan
Field trip time!
This week we got to visit Mission San Juan. Established in 1731 by Spanish conquistadors, it’s both a national park and one of several missions in San Antonio.
This was a really fun time because, in addition to the historical information we gained, we also got to see that the mission has started a farm on site. The food that the farm produces is being donated to a local food bank. It’s so nice to see that people are supporting their local community here!
While walking around the farm, we saw some amazing food being grown, including ancient spe-cies of squash, huitlacoche, and one of the staple crops of pre-Hispanic America, amaranth. We really enjoyed exploring the site, seeing ancient irrigation systems still being used, and learning about the many fruits and vegetables being harvested there.
Amaranth plant (similar to quinoa)
Cornfield in the San Juan mission
Horse mint – a surprisingly spicy herb
This week was very special for my classmates and me. It was full of firsts: the first time cooking a whole pig and the first time hosting our very own pop-up dinner. The Latin concentration con-tinues to impress all of us, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store during the next few weeks here in San Antonio!
Until next time,
- Latina Eats: Farewell to an Amazing Semester in San Antonio - August 12, 2016
- Latina Eats: Latin Concentration hosts South American Pop-Up Dinner - August 8, 2016
- Latina Eats: Exploring Peruvian Flavors - July 29, 2016