Ecuadorian-Inspired Chicken Stew

African-American Southern dishes are my soul and Latin-American cuisine is my heart. I grew up with the guacamole, tortilla chips, salt-rimmed margaritas, rice and beans, refried beans, tacos, tamales and more. However, as I learn more about authentic Latin-American food, my excitement is similar to a kid discovering an adult menu of larger and more flavorful dishes and ingredients.

When Bren of invited me to share a recipe representing a Latin-American country in her annual Hispanic Heritage Month series, I was cautious. Demonstrating another culture’s gastronomic pleasures—especially when I love Latin-american cuisine—is intimidating. Since there was leftover hominy corn from another recipe, I chose Ecuador because of its pozole stews. Learning more about Ecuadorian cuisine, achiote paste aroused my curiosity.

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The recently hired coat check hostess said most of the opening day staff are still working at Pampano of New York City (there’s another location in Qatar). The evening celebrating the launch of Pampano’s ten year anniversary tasting menu of popular dishes, guests murmured about the friendliness of the staff based on their past visits. Before the event started, the staff finished preparations by placing small vases full of yellow roses on various tables. The bartender stood behind a table expertly arranged with wine, tequilas, fruit purees and garnishes. The evening was an unusually warm Tuesday in March, in between two frigid, cold days. As the event started, the waiters carried out trays of food. I carefully balanced my mango sangria in one hand, made sure the camera was securely around my neck, and tasted Pampano’s empanadas.   Read more

Gazpacho with Shrimp and Cucumber Salad
Gazpacho with Shrimp and Cucumber Salad

Casey Angelova of the food blog, Eating, Gardening & Living in Bulgaria, is sponsoring another cultural cuisine event. This time it’s honoring Portugal on their National Day. The Portuguese call it “Dia de Portugal.” It’s also a day honoring their national hero, Luís de Camões, for he’s the author of an epic poem, Os Lusíadas, that tells the history of Portuguese exploration.

A few centuries ago, Portugal had vast empires in Africa and Latin America. With a foundation of Mediterranean flavors, it’s a cuisine with a global influence. Tomatoes, chocolate, vanilla and chilies from the “New World” are now important ingredients in many cultures, including Portugal. Read more