As the holiday season passes, students, staff discuss cultural foods


Nora Mariano

Winter is a time for family, fun and, of course, food. Religious celebrations, holidays, and the change of the season are all expressed through food. For many people at this school, preparing specific dishes is a form of cultural expression and it brings them joy. Sophomore Juliana Hernandez, who is of Mexican heritage, said her grandmother visits every winter break and their family cooks together.

Hernandez said her family makes tamales and buñuelos. Tamales consist of various ingredients covered in corn dough, wrapped in corn husks, which are then steamed. Buñuelos are a dessert made from the same flour as a tortilla. This flour is then fried and covered with cinnamon and sugar. Hernandez said her family also makes menudo, which she says is a bunch of meat put into a broth or soup.

Hernandez said cooking with her family is a good memory and she plans to continue this tradition after she moves out. 

“The tamales, we don’t make them well, they don’t taste good, but we’ll still make them,” Hernandez said. “And the menudo, when my grandma makes it, it just reminds me a lot of home so even when I move out, I’ll continue (making) it.” 

Jane Martens

Senior Juanita Rojas, who is of Colombian heritage, said cooking with her family is also a fond memory.

Rojas said, “When making food, we were all gathered together in the kitchen. I was a little younger back then, (me and the other kids) would not participate as much. We’d just watch and taste it there and then.”

“It’s a whole tradition to (cook) as a family, since we’re not celebrating this Christmas in Colombia, we would usually do that as a whole family. (With) everyone, uncles, aunts, cousins,” Rojas added, “but this one is just our (immediate family).”

Rojas and her family celebrate the Novena, which is the commemoration of Jesus’ birth. Rojas said her family prepares a lot of salty and sweet foods. These include: buñuelos, natilla, hojuelas, and arepas

According to The Spruce Eats (a newsletter dedicated to sharing recipes), natilla is a dessert similar to custard, and hojuelas are fried strips of dough sprinkled with sugar. Arepas are made with ground corn dough stuffed with different fillings.

For culinary arts teacher Chad Young, food is universal and an important way for someone to convey their culture. Young’s family is from southern Indiana and said that was one of the main reasons why he makes foods, such as sweet potato pie, for Thanksgiving.

Young said,  “Even though certain cultures have their own unique things that they make, it essentially ties together. I always talk about breads, in the Latin culture they have tortillas and things of that nature. (Tortillas) are a flatbread, pita bread is (also) a flatbread, but it’s (a part of) Mediterranean culture. So even though we like to own our own individualistic food items, they still can relate universally. They translate into different cultures, we just call them different things.”