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Con Todo, Menos Carne

“Mija,” my mother said, “do you want to eat?”

“Yes, mother. But just to remind you, I’m vegetarian.”

“Let’s go to McDonalds! They have chicken nuggets and

you can eat it because it’s not red meat,” my sister said.

While my sister’s idea may seem like a reasonable Latino perspective, the reality is that a vegetarian avoids eating all kinds of meat. I surveyed 83 Latinos to see what they thought of vegetarianism and what a vegetarian diet consists of. Over a quarter of respondents identified seafood as an acceptable part of a vegetarian diet. Others thought vegetarians could eat red meat and chicken.

I became a vegetarian during the 40 days of Lent, meaning that my diet had no meat and no seafood. But I found that, despite the Lenten tradition of giving up meat on Fridays, this radical lifestyle is still foreign to many Latinos.

When deciding what we should have for the family dinner, my tío Ramón suggested ceviche, because it is a meal he thought everyone could share. Case in point.

One reason my uncle may have suggested seafood is that the meatless Lenten diet may include fish and seafood on Fridays. For many Latinos, the 40 days of Lent are the closest they have ever come to being vegetarian. Perhaps this is why my family cannot fully grasp the concept of vegetarianism.

Being vegetarian, is not part of the Latino cultural logic. Nearly 60 percent of Latinos I surveyed indicated that vegetarianism was not part of Latino culture.

I recently visited Carnitas Michoacan, a 24-hour Mexican restaurant in East Los Angeles, the heart of the Latino population in LA. I ordered a cheese quesadilla, mentioning to the cashier that I was vegetarian. She asked whether I wanted carne asada, carnitas, pollo, or chorizo.

I repeated that I am a vegetarian. She looked surprised. After I placed my order, I heard her yell to the cook. He responded, “¿Con qué tipo de carne?” (What type of meat?) She responded, “Sin nada.” (None.) The cook said, “¿De verdad? ¿Sin nada? ¿Cómo puede ser esto?” (Really? None? How can this be?)

My family members are clearly not the only ones who do not understand what it means to be vegetarian. My experience with vegetarianism shows me how little Latinos know about the vegetarian lifestyle.

It has now been over a month since I broke my Lenten vow of vegetarianism. But I found that I did not miss meat that much. Despite my family’s initial shock, they have come to a different understanding of vegetarianism.

If you were to give a title to the Latino diet what would it be? Email your response to [email protected]

Con Amor,

La Boquisabrosa

La Boquisabrosa Becomes Meatless for Lent

In observance of Lent, I personally vowed to give up meat for 40 days. Today is my fifth day. My future blog post will feature vegetarian-friendly restaurants.  It will be a challenge for me to be meatless since I love meat, but, I will embrace the alternative lifestyle that many live by.
If any of you are vegetarian or just love vegetarian food, can you lend a helping hand by recommending which restaurants I should review? Please email me at [email protected] with the recommendations or any questions you have about my blog.  I always look forward to your recommendations.

Con amor,

La Boquisabrosa

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Restaurant Review: Gloria’s Café

A popular place to get your Latin Fusion is Gloria’s Café.  Gloria’s Café, a fusion of Mexican and Salvadorian cuisine, was pretty packed the Sunday afternoon I visited.

I ordered the homemade guacamole, as a starter.  It was creamy, as guacamole should be, but I disappointed at the size–it appeared to be just a scoop. For $4, that seems unfair.

Pupusas filled with pork and cheese

My main course was two pupusas revueltas, and two Mexican tamales.  I loved the enormous pupusas, which were about  5 inches in diameter. The pupusas revueltas were made of a corn masa (dough) filled with pork and cheese. The buttery crunchy texture of the dough complimented the cheesy, soft, meaty center.

Chicken with red salsa filled Tamales

However, the Mexican chicken tamales were dry. The red salsa had no flavor and did not provide enough juiciness. The chicken was arid, and it even overwhelmed the dryness of the holey masa.  When I think of Mexican chicken tamales, green sauce usually pops up, but they served the tamales with red salsa, which cut my cravings for it.

I invited a guest, to critique Gloria’s Café.  Susana Figueroa, a 4th-year international development studies student, is too familiar with the restaurant business, having working about seven years in multiple position such as waitress to kitchen aid.

She ordered the Salvadorian Plato Tipico.  This dish is served with one pupusa, yuca frita (fried yucca plant root), chicarron (fried pork rinds), curtido (pickled cabbage salad), platanos (fried bananas), rice and black beans.

Plato Tipico serve one pupusa, yucca frita , chicaron, curtido, platoons, rice and black beans.

La Boquisabrosa: “What did you like about the plate?”

Susana: “I like that it had a huge variety of food, and I like that I didn’t have to order a extra side of platanos, because it came with it.”

LB: “Do you like the plate?”
S: “Yes, I really like the plate.”
LB: “I know that you are half-Salvadorian.  Was the plate true to Salvadorian roots, or did [restaurant] play with it, since it is a fusion restaurant?”
S: “The [menu] said it was typical Salvadorian…[it] was true to what I’ve grown up with, the platanos, the pupusas, the beans, were all normal. And the yucca–that I’ve never tried before–was a good first time. It was really good.”
LB: “So do you recommend people to going there for a true Salvadorian plate?”

S: “Yes.”

Overall, my guest and I agree that Gloria’s Café is a delectable place for Salvadorian food and not so yummy on the Mexican side dishes.

Rating: $: Comida Cómodo

Gloria’s Café Website

Con Amor, la boquisabrosa,

Maria

P.S.  I am in the quest to find the perfectly yummy and true Salvadorian restaurant and any Latino or Latino-inspired restaurant.  If you know of a place, please feel to email me at [email protected]