One of my favorite ways to celebrate culture is through food. It's such an easy way to connect to a culture, to a people. And opportunities for food that connects us is all around. Every city is filled with restaurants that showcase the best of a country or community. But you don't need to go out to have that kind of experience. Dinner tonight is a perfect time! We've rounded up a few recipes that could work for you.
BUT FIRST, SOME TIPS
Before you start cooking or eating think about pulling out a map (if you don't own one, Google Maps on your phone is an easy option) and talk to your kids about the country of origin, what we know about it, and if we'd like to visit it someday. Get them prepped for the meal they're about to have.
If you're a vegetarian or vegan household (as we are) or just looking for some meatless options, don't be afraid to swap out some ingredients in the recipes below. Beans are ALWAYS a good swap in Latin American recipes, but some meat alternatives like Gardein, Quorn and Beyond Meat can work perfectly with minimal work for you.
Also, this might be the perfect time to provide your kiddo a little kitchen time. We do a lot of cooking at home with our kids and have been hugely inspired by Chef Julian at The Step Stool Chef.
Finally, ask Google or Alexa to give you some facts and play some popular songs from the country while you're eating your dinner.
Ok -- here are the recipes!
MEXICO: POLLO A LA VERACRUZANA
Let's begin with Mexico. A great neighbor, an amazing country, and outrageously good food. Tacos are too obvious here (and should already be a busy family staple!), so we're going with something a little different.
This recipe for Pollo a la Veracruzana (or Chicken Veracruz) comes from the website Mexico In My Kitchen. It has a wonderful combination of flavors and spices, most of which you should have at home.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: MORO DE HABICHUELAS
Next up, Moro de Habichuelas or Rice and Beans, from the Dominican Republic. My parents are from the Dominican Republic and I grew up on moro like American children were raised on burgers and fries. I make this dish very often, and as Aunt Clara from Dominican Cooking says, I have my own unique version of this recipe, but think this recipe is a great starting point. Tweak the spices and aromatics until it's just right for you.
In my house, I double up the beans in the rice and serve with a side salad and chopped up bananas (the sweet goes so nicely with the savory). But it would go well with an (easy, pre-cooked) rotisserie chicken, a quick shrimp saute, or even a green smoothie.
COLOMBIA: POLLO EN SALSA DE COCO
According to Erica at My Colombian Recipes, Pollo en Salsa de Coco (Chicken with Coconut Sauce) is a popular dish in Colombia. It looks delicious, and has a short ingredient list, making it a great option for a weeknight dinner. She suggests serving with a side of white rice (or for a slightly healthier option, try brown rice or quinoa and a side salad). Coconut is a staple in most warm and tropical countries and Colombia is no different.
Let me know which you made, will you?
P.S. Join us for the 2019 Spanish Immersion Vacation! Spanish-only camp for them, luxury resort for you! In beautiful Cancun, Mexico. Learn more!