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Happy Hispanic Heritage Month

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month


Written by dietetic intern: Yasmine Cheang

Hello Hispanic Heritage Month– let’s celebrate from September 15 - October 15! Hispanic Americans have made important history in the United States. Let’s take a look at their food traditions–a crucial part of their culture!

Hispanic regions include Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America. Their food traditions are diverse. Mexican cuisine is mostly spicy and varies from region to region. As Mexico is known for corn, tortillas and other corn-based foods are typical. The Caribbean is especially known for seafood dishes, such as salted codfish. In history, slaves from Africa, India, and China have brought their food cultures to the Caribbean islands. So, foods like rice and curry have since been part of the Caribbean cuisine. People in Central America enjoy eating chicken and pork. Like Mexico, tortilla is also a staple along with other common Hispanic foods (see section below). Beef and seafood are often in South American dishes. And, countries in this region have different types of cooking styles. One example is ceviche. It gives a citrusy flavor to Peru and Ecuador dishes like Ceviche Shrimp. The barbeque style is common in Paraguay. Dulce de leche is a popular dessert.

Let’s take a look at the common foods among these Hispanic regions! Rice, beans, and yuca are staple foods in most regions. Besides seafood and beef, chicken and pork are also common protein sources. The local people also enjoy plantain as a snack. The main tropical fruits are mangos, papaya, pineapple, guava, and soursop.

How about foods that are native to the Caribbean, Central and South America? Pepper, tomato, and amaranth are a few examples. Some are often thought of as originating from other countries. For example, potatoes are indigenous to South America, rather than Ireland. Avocados are native to Central America and Mexico. 

Curriculum tie-in (Grades K-3) Speaking and Listening Standards

We have now learned a bit more about the cultural foods in different Hispanic regions. In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, discuss with students the common tropical fruits that originated from Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. Have students discuss in groups which fruits they have tried and their favorite ones, then share with the class.