Latina Eats: Settling In and Venturing Out


This is the third 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.


I have enjoyed every second of my time here in San Antonio so far. My classmates and I finally got to explore the city a bit, and we are loving the food scene here! Here’s a little preview of what I’ve been up to this week:

  • Salsa tasting and tamale day in class with Chef Remolina
  • Field trip to Sanitary Tortilleria
  • Got a job at the campus restaurant, Nao (yay!!!)
  • Worked a food and wine event at school
  • Oh…and we ate some amazing food!


This week in the Latin Kitchen


We explored different salsas and studied how they are used in Latin America. The salsa tasting was such a cool exercise. This day was focused solely on the different uses and methods of making this delicious ‘condiment.’ It was so interesting to learn about the countless ways we could incorporate it into any cuisine you could think of. So, in fact, salsas can not only be used as condiments but as seasonings for meats, stews, and many other things. We used three different recipes and prepared them 10 different ways, such as blended, fried, raw, and crushed in a mortar and pestle called a molcajete. You could not imagine the difference it makes when you simply blend a salsa versus crushing it using the stone mortar and pestle. I really enjoyed this day because we were able to take our time, discuss, and take notes on what we found particularly interesting about the salsas we made and why we would or wouldn’t use them in a certain dish.


Those are some good-looking salsas right there (and they tasted even better)


With all that salsa we have, why not put it inside of a taco? No-brainer!


Besides the salsa-fest we had in class, we also cooked a bunch of food in leaves and husks this week! The end products were unbe-leaf-ably delicious. (Sorry, had to!)

From corn husks to banana leaves, we explored an ancient cooking method that has been perfected by so many cultures such as the Aztecs from Mesoamerica. Being one of the earliest food preparation techniques, cooking in leaves was something I was very interested in learning about. I was really only familiar with cooking in corn husks and in grape leaves prior to this class, so it was nice to open my eyes to how other countries in the world are using this cooking method. That’s what’s so great about the Latin concentration—you might be familiar with something like a tamale, but Chef Remolina will teach you the history behind cooking in a corn husk, plus 10 other countries that are doing something similar yet so different when using this cooking method. From Puerto Rican pasteles to Venezuelan hallacas, we learned the ins and outs of this very simple yet renowned food preparation.

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Here, Chef Remolina is preparing tacos de jaiba, which are crab meat tacos steamed in a banana leaf

(we made the tortillas from scratch that morning)

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Here’s me making the ‘dough’ for pasteles, a traditional food in Puerto Rican cuisine. It’s similar to a meat tamale but it’s wrapped in banana leaves instead.

Oh, and the exterior of the pastel is made from root vegetables…pretty cool!!


Tamales de nopal, aka cactus tamales


This week we went on a field trip to Sanitary Tortilleria, which is one of the largest tortilla distributors in San Antonio. In fact, the CIA San Antonio and more than 100 other sites are using Sanitary to get their tortilla fix. Our class got to go to the factory where they make these tortillas from scratch every…single…day. Yep, that’s a lot of tortillas. All of the corn they get is from the San Antonio area and they make some delicious tortillas with it. This place takes no shortcuts. They nixtamalize and grind their own corn. But the coolest part about Sanitary? Being able to see their tortilla machine from 1925 still being used on site!



Heres a link to an article I found on the tortilleria; it talks a little bit about their history in San Antonio and what makes them so ‘sanitary’: Tortilleria Link >


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Some of the decorations inside the tortilleria


This week we worked a food and wine event which featured some dishes cooked by our talented CIA chefs like Chef Ward and Chef Clark, to name a few. I had so much fun working this event with my friends, and we also got to try some of the amazing food our chef-instructors made.


Here are a few pictures from that event:


Ceviche three ways by Chef Remolina (Peruvian, Ecuadorian, and Mexican)

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Chef Clark’s creation: House-made fromage blanc, pickled vegetables, and tapenade crumble

Overall, this week has been eye-opening…to the endless variety of dishes that can be made from simple ingredients like corn and leaves, and to the opportunities the Latin concentration has brought (and will bring) us. I hope you guys are enjoying reading about my time here, and stay tuned for next week’s post when I’ll talk about my new job at Nao and much much more!
’Til next time,


Giselle Sigala