JSU history professor spotlights Latin American food in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month

Jamie Brock, Correspondent

A group of Jacksonville State members joined together for a group, led and organized by Arlene Flores, over Microsoft teams on Sept. 24 to discuss and enjoy different types of Latin American food in the United States. 

This event was held in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, which began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage week and spans from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

The month is meant to celebrate “the cultures and contributions of both Hispanic and Latino Americans as we celebrate heritage rooted in all Latin American countries,” according to the Hispanic Heritage Month website.

The presentation was started with Lance Ingwersen, a historian by training with focused research on modern Mexico, leading with food history, culture, history, personal anecdotes, and popular culture. 

“The multiplicity of culture and cuisines is remarkable”, said Dr. Ingwersen.

Highlights

— Tacos in the Quad at JSU 

— Different types of tacos eaten across the United States and Latin America are Asada, American, Cabrito, Birria, and Cochinita.

— Coffee and pastry event

— Drive-in movie night on campus

— U.S. Hispanic population has reached a remarkable high 61 million, changing demographics and culture across the country

Mexican food:

— Cultural diffusion in the U.S. stems from mexican oriented food. Salsa has surpassed ketchup, and tortillas have surpassed hamburger and hotdog buns.

— More taquerias have popped up across the U.S.

— Over 60,000 mexican restaurants are across the U.S.

Tacos:

— Very common now in the United States

— Often on fresh corn tortillas filled with multiple ingredients that may include beef, chicken, carne asada, salsa, cheese, and more.

— “The Taco Chronicles” now on Netflix, produced in Mexico to take viewers across different towns to learn about Tacos.

— Earlier in history, tacos were a food of the working class, being cheap and easy to make.

Tamales:

— Some of the oldest food around, originated with meso americans up to 10,000 years ago

— Often used as portable foods for hunters and travelers

— Also made with various items such as beef, chicken, pork, cheese, herbs, etc.

— Most families have their own custom blend of spice and other ingredients to personalize their own tamales.

Tortas:

— Sandwiches with a spirited debate on where they have actually originated from (Southern Mexico).

— Quick snack, street food, often made with any ingredients on hand, easily portable

— Often made with multiple types of meat, fried eggs, cheese, guacamole, condiments, etc.

— A very hearty and filling food

Following Ingwersen’s presentations, multiple panelists spoke about their favorite Latin American foods as well.

Eduardo Pacheco is originally from Colombia, now a Spanish professor at JSU, and Flor Gordillo, a senior at JSU is originally from Mexico, studying to teach English. Both shared about the intersections of food and culture and their personal experiences.

Gordillo was asked how food played into her life and family as well as past experiences.

“For me, food is everything. Food represents family,” said Gordillo. 

“I grew up spending lots of my time in restaurants, so by the age of eight, I was familiar with different types of food,” said Pacheco.

Although food may seem a simple topic, it can bring together many different cultures across the world while educating others and bringing joy into communities and families.

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