- Chipotle - This is a rather old trend, although I still love this chile's smoky flavor.
- Cilantro - The Wall Street Journal recently reported that an anti-cilantro group has formed to combat the overuse of this wonderful herb in restaurants. Que barbaridad! I cannot cook without cilantro.
- Chiles - As a rule, Puerto Ricans do not cook with chiles, but I have grown to love them, especially green chile sauce and pico de gallo.
- Masa - Many Hispanic groups make some sort of food with masa. Mexicans, Central Americans and Cubans use a corn-based masa for tamales, while Puerto Ricans make pasteles with assorted root vegetables. My husband recently made pasteles, and they came out pretty good.
- Cumin - This seed with a peppery taste is used to make curry and other spices.
- Lime - Mexicans love lime, and use it in everything from meat marinades to aguas frescas.
The Mexican influence on food is obvious, and that should come as no surprise. Mexicans make up two-thirds of U.S. Hispanics (although not in the Central Florida area, except for Lake County).
Wondering what are the next Hispanic foods to cross over? Critics are forecasting these trends:
- Mexican cheeses (ever tried cotija?)
- Epazote, a Mexican herb that is like coriander
- Corn tortillas, which have more fiber and are low-calorie, as opposed to flour tortillas, which are heavy and fattening
- Rotisserie chicken a la Martin's Barbecue here in Orlando.
- Puerto Rican pionono (cone-shaped sweet platanos stuffed with cheese)
- Sofrito, a blend of peppers, herbs and spices that is the foundation for much island cooking (can't do without it!)
So let's continue to cook up a storm and pour it on. The aromas and tastes are irresistible. Pretty soon, non-Hispanics will be making a stampede back to their own kitchens to get some flava.
We are heavy users of phone cards, for instance. And we chat on the phone longer than most cell phone users. When we are online, what do we do? We connect, of course! Being in contact with family and friends is important to us.
In an article in this week's Ad Week magazine, Manny Miravante, vice president of MySpace and MySpace Latino, said social media is "the fabric of Hispanics online." Now, why is that? Don't tell anybody but my theory is--nos gusta hablar, tu y yo!. We like to feel interconnected and on top of the latest chismes.
Other studies show that about a third of Hispanics spend 13 hours or more per week cruising the Internet, according to the 2008 Hispanic Fact Pack. Here are some other things we do:
- 47 percent use email
- 26 percent use instant messenger
- 25 percent pay bills online
- 20 percent download music
Technology is increasingly important to Latinos. About 72 percent of 25 to 44 years old Hispanics--a key age group--say they try to keep up with technology. Count me in.
These numbers are good and are still growing. The next time you hear that Hispanics don't do this or that, don't believe it. We are saying presente online in ever increasing numbers.