Even Latina bloggers who don’t consider themselves “food bloggers,” often touch upon the topic and even share recipes. The conversation continues into social media – messages fly back and forth on Twitter and Facebook until everyone is left wanting everything from Salvadoran pupusas, Venezuelan arepas and Mexican tamales to Dominican mangú, Cuban lechon asado, and foods popular throughout Latin America such as pastel de tres leches. The very mention of the beloved foods brings about memories and cravings.
This is the modern history of Latin cooking and culture in the making. In the past, generations of women passed recipes down from abuela or madre to hija or nieta, (or even nuera), in the kitchen, side-by-side – but things have changed. Extended families no longer live in the same household, let alone the same country. Method and measurement can not be conveyed over the telephone. Language barriers also make explaining recipes more difficult. Even those fluent in Spanish may struggle to decipher unfamiliar or colloquial terms. Finding the ingredients in the United States is yet another challenge, especially for those who live in less urban areas, away from bodegas and international markets.
In a society where marriage between Latinos and non-Latinos is becoming increasingly common, women who marry into the culture are at even more of a disadvantage. While wanting to cook familiar meals for their husband and pass traditions onto their children, a woman who is raised in an Anglo family must rely on her new mother-in-law to teach her the recipes; that’s if the mother-in-law cares to cooperate, which isn’t always the case. The mother-in-law may enjoy the advantage of being able to provide something for her son and grandchildren that her new daughter-in-law cannot.
Enter the internet. Now a simple search in English or Spanish brings up thousands of authentic Latin American recipes complete with tips, photos and even video. Traditions and culture with origins that date back to pre-Columbian times are being kept alive by the use of modern technology.
Many Latina food bloggers began their blogs on the premise of preserving family recipes which until now, have primarily been passed on orally.
“The collection of recipes represents three-generations of cooking — my grandma’s, my mom’s, and my sister and my Latin inspired dishes,” said Yvette Marquez about the recipes on her blog, Muy Bueno Cookbook.
These recipes are now printed in homes around the world, placed in strangers’ personal cookbooks and E-mailed amongst friends.
When asked how she felt about her family recipes being shared with complete strangers, Leslie Límon of LaCocinadeLeslie.com said, “…like good food – [recipes] are meant to be shared, not hidden away at the bottom of a drawer.”
Silvia Martinez of MamaLatinaTips.com agreed, saying, “I’m glad other people get to try the food we love so much.”
One blogger, Clementina, who is known for the beautiful stories she weaves into her recipes on A Little Cup of Mexican Hot Chocolate, summed it up with her signature eloquence:
“For far too long, we have been told that our food is unhealthy, that cooking the way our mothers do represents our oppression or subjugation to macho men, that it has no place in the life of a modern woman, that it makes us fat—wrong, wrong, wrong. It is a healthful, and may I say without apology, a world class cuisine, 500 years in the making. A delicious fusion of the Old World and the New. Going back to la cocina and learning the ways of our antepasadas [those who came before us] will not just fill our stomachs, but our corazón. Mine may not be the most comprehensive Mexican food blog out there, but that’s okay. It is a love letter to the woman who was my mother and to my familia, to my friends.” – Clementina of A Little Cup of Mexican Hot Chocolate.
A handful of Latina food bloggers were selected to answer questions as part of my research. I also asked them for their favorite recipe. Special thanks to:
Recipe: Silvia’s Mexican Tuna Salad
Recipe: Enchiladas Verdes
Recipe: Zacatecas style mole
Check out the “food” category of the Latina blog directory, Blogs by Latinas.
You can also visit Latina On A Mission where Latina food bloggers participating in Sabroso Saturdays link up their recipes.
Tracy López is a writer living outside the D.C. Metro area. Her blog, Latinaish.com, examines cultural differences she discovers as she navigates life in a bicultural, bilingual family. She can also be reached via Twitter @Latinaish.