New Movements For Social Justice: The Latino Struggle for Equal Rights (1950’s-1970’s)
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An effective way to introduce this lesson is to ask students to join in the celebration of traditional ethnic dishes. Students should ask their parents for assistance if needed and then sign up to bring in an appetizer, main dish, or dessert that reflects their culture. I have found that the sharing of food is a wonderful way for students to gain an appreciation of other ethnic and racial customs. Teachers should point out that much of the food from the Hispanic groups was influenced by the Spanish as well as the Africans. The Spanish colonists brought with them citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons. They also brought rice and vegetables. African slaves were not allowed to bring anything with them to Cuba or Puerto Rico, They developed a penchant for local produce such as cassava, maize, and okra. The two gradually fused in time to give rise to dishes such as arroz congri (rice and beans-sometimes known as Moors and Christians), tostones-pieces of plantain, lightly fried, beaten with the fist and then fried again and ajia co criollo-a meat and vegetable stew. Pork is the favorite meat of most Cubans and Puerto Ricans. Mexican food is spicy. This is because spices acted as a preservative. Cumin, coriander, and cinnamon are favorite choices of Mexican spices. For those who like things hot, fresh or dried, chile peppers or cayenne will add fire to any dish. Green chilies and jalapeno peppers are also available in canned food. The main corn meal food is the tortilla, a thin pancake shaped by hand or machine and cooked on an ungreased griddle. The tortilla is the bread of most Mexicans. It can be eaten plain or as part of the taco. The taco is a folded tortilla filled with chopped meat, chicken, or cheese, then fried. The tortilla is also used in the enchilada. This is a rolled up tortilla with a meat or chicken filling and covered with hot sauce. Finally, the tortilla is used for the tostado. The tostado is a tortilla fried in deep fat until it becomes crisp and is served flat with beans, cheese, lettuce, meat and onions.