Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Teaching My Children Their Hispanic Heritage through Empanadas

This article is part of our Hispanic Heritage Month series featuring stories from Latina moms who have agreed to share their thoughts on raising children and what their heritage means to them. Today's post is by Nadia Jones, publisher of JusticeJonesie.com...

Teaching My Children Their Hispanic Heritage through Empanadas

I am fortunate to have a mother that saw the importance of passing on traditions from my Mexican and Haitian backgrounds. One of the ways that she did this was through food and cooking. When my mom married my father, Haitian born and raised, she learned from my dad’s sisters how to cook and speak French and Haitian Creole "better than most Haitian women," as my dad likes to say. By the time I was 12, my mom was at work with me teaching me about the different spices and dishes from both sides of my family.

Eating and learning about the different spices and ingredients that go into these dishes is just one of the many ways that I plan to teach my children about their Latino heritage. I cook food that I grew up on and also expose my three children to dishes from other Latin cultures as well. Teaching my children about the variations found from one Latin region to the next is a great lesson on culture and geography.

Recently, I used my love for empanadas as an opportunity to introduce my children to the level of diversity found in the delicious little pies filled with all kinds of goodness. I knew that empanadas varied from country to country but I had never really taken the time to learn about the differences. So I decided to educate myself and my children at the same time.

I did some research and found a small Latin bakery known to carry empanadas from several different countries including Chile, Argentina, Venezuela and others. I also did some research on the traditional style served from some of the different countries in which empanadas are most often served. I shared what I learned with my children and with excitement we learned that in some regions like Peru, the empanadas are made with dough-like bread, while in others, Argentina for example, they are more commonly made with a flakey crust that is usually deep fried and filled with seasoned meat. We talked about all the different fillings and which empanada everyone wanted to try.

When we arrived to the bakery the kids were so excited. We ordered 10 different empanadas to split between the five us and then of course, shared and compared. We each had a different favorite. My ten year-old liked the spinach and cheese empanada from Chile and my daughter loved the cheese filled deep fried empanada from Argentina. We ended up ordering a few to go for later and I was so happy to hear my daughter say she wanted one in her lunch the next day.

Our empanada excursion turned out to be a great success. Not only do my children have a deeper understanding and appreciation for a dish that varies from region to region, but, they also learned another tidbit from their Latino heritage.

What are some of the ways that you introduce your children to their heritage through food?


Nadia, a.k.a., Justice Jonesie, is a mom to three, lawyer, blogger at JusticeJonesie.com, founder of Niche Mommy Network & Conference & co-founder of Blogalicious Weekend.  She enjoys blogging about work-life balance, fitness, and her journey through motherhood. When she is not working or chasing after her kids, you may find her training for a half-marathon or enjoying a chic night out on the town with her hubby. Find her on Twitter @justicejonesie


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