National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated September 15 through October 15, 2021. We asked our team members to share a little about their heritage, traditions or celebrations during this time. Please enjoy!
Ada S., The Don CeSar
National Hispanic Heritage Month is when we appreciate the Hispanic community’s history and contributions made to our nation over the years. For me as a 3rd generation Hispanic from the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico it brings be great Pride. Fun fact, did you know The Hispanic Population is the largest ethnic minority with over 60 million in population? While there are so many different cultures within the Hispanic population what ties us together is our language, Spanish is spoken in over 20+ countries. I am glad my parents spoke Spanish in our household and choose to teach me and my siblings the Spanish language first before learning English in School. It is something I wish I did a better job with my children. They understand the language but do not speak it. We do; however, celebrate our Puerto Rican Heritage and culture thru love of our traditional music and dance and lastly food. Here is our famous Sofrito recipe which is use to cook rice, soups, beans or just about anything. Hope you enjoy!
5 Green Peppers (seeded and chopped)
2 Red Peppers (seeded and chopped)
4 Cubanelle peppers (seeded and chopped)
12 Aji dulce (sweet bonnet peppers)
2 or 3 Spanish Onions
1 cup of Garlic
1 bunch of recao (Leafy herb sold in Spanish supermarkets)
1 bunch of cilantro
Once everything is rinsed and seeded, in small batches blend them in either a food processor or blender. Refrigerate in a sealed container. Freeze in small containers, extras that will not be used within two weeks.
Marilu S., Marriott Little Rock
Hispanic Heritage month is important to me because I want to show the traditions that I learned when I was growing up in Mexico. I learned to make tamales from my grandmother, my Abuelita as I like to call her. Tamales are a tradition that we use for Christmas, birthdays, but especially the day of the dead. I learned how to make tamales from my family and I’ve been able to bring this to the country and I can share with my friends and my co-workers and I am able to share my love of the recipe. I have been able to sell them to help raise money for fundraisers at work, like Give Kids the World, and to help families in need. I also make them to celebrate birthdays for my co-workers. I have changed the recipes for tamales, based off what people like here. For instance, in the US, everyone loves cheddar cheese but in Mexico, cheddar cheese is not that common. I still use my traditional recipes from Mexico, but I’ve made innovations so that everyone can enjoy them. My goal is to bring everyone together. I have started to teach my own boys how to make tamales so that the tradition from my Abuelita continues.
Traditional Tamale Recipe (Green Tamales)
2 pounds Masa (see recipe below)
2 pounds tomatillo verde
6 garlic cloves
1 bunch of cilantros
2 spoonful’s chicken bullion
3 chicken breasts, cut into filets
25 banana leaves 15 inches
Salt to taste
Boil tomatillo and jalapeños for 7 minutes
Blend tomatillo, jalapeños, onion, garlic , salt and cilantro
Masa for tamales
3 cups of water, 1 cup of cooking oil and salt, corn flour
Place banana leaves in a pan for 2 minutes each side to allow leaves to get soft
Place in this order:
Place banana leaves on a flat surface
Smooth masa on banana leaves
Place chicken on masa
Fold banana leaves into shape of tamale
Place tamales in a large steamer pot for 1 hour
Let cool and enjoy!
Miladys C., Hyatt Centric Chicago Magnificent Mile
Miladys, born and raised in Cuba, is a full-time lobby attendant and has been with the property for more than 14 years. She loves to cook and share her recipes and food. Here is her best recipe for Flan, which serves 12 people.
400 ml of coconut milk (1 can)
354 ml of evaporates milk (1 can)
387 q of sweetened condensed milk (1 can)
2 tablespoons of sugar to make caramel in the mold
Add all ingredients in the blender (mix very well)
Take the mold, add the sugar and put it on low heat until you have the caramel texture we are looking for
Once achieved- coat the mold with caramel and let it cool.
After all ingredients have been mixed well, put it in the caramelized mold and put it to cook in a pot with water for 45 minutes or 1 hour, depending on the type of pot using.
Check the water and as it dries, add more water. I regularly do it in a pressure cooker, because it is faster.
Cover with aluminum foil and secure with cord or course thread to the edge of the mold. After cooking wait for flan to cool off, and put in refrigerator for 1 hour, before removing flan from mold, this helps the flan to detach well from the walls of the mold and not break. Ready to eat, enjoy!
Paula R., Kimpton Harper Hotel
Paula loves to celebrate her Mexican-American Heritage. She has been with the hotel since pre-opening in June 2021. She currently works in the Stewarding Department as a Steward but she also serves as the house translator. Fun Facts About Paula: She enjoys all things cooking and baking at home, she sells her tortillas on Facebook, she is a self-described creative and is also a talented artist, seamstress, and cake decorator. And, she has ambitions to open her own food truck and restaurant!
Paula’s Homemade Tortilla Recipe
4 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp iodized salt
½ cup shortening
2 cup warm water
+1 cup flour for sprinkling
Knead all ingredients together with your hand except for the water. After ingredients are well blended, add water and keep kneading until the dough unsticks from your hands and sides of the bowl. Form into flat balls tucking in toward the center. Roll out with a rolling pin and rotate to make a rounded shape. Cook the tortillas in a greased skillet over medium high heat until lightly browned, about one minute per side.
Yesenia and Samary D., Sheraton Philadelphia University City Hotel
We are two sisters that were born in Puerto Rico and came to Pennsylvania in 1985 at the ages of 1 (Samary) and 3 (Yesenia). Even though we were raised in Pennsylvania, we still follow our Puerto Rican culture which includes eating special specials foods and celebrating holidays together. Specifically, we celebrate Three Kings Day, which is on January 6th of each year. In September, we attend the National Puerto Rican Day parade (which means rich port) in which everyone in the community has the opportunity to celebrate our culture on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway from 12:00-3:00 p.m. At the parade, hundreds of Hispanics get together to celebrate with music, dancing and fabulous, colorful floats. Sometimes, even famous local celebrities make an appearance, like Fat Joe, a rap artist and Danny Garcia, a boxing champion. After the parade, there is a festival, where everyone is dancing Reggaeton (Spanish reggae), Merengue, and Salsa. There are lots of food trucks and activities for the children. Some of the foods would include, pincho’s, empanada’s, platanos and piragua (a type of snow cone with shaved ice). Attending the parade means a lot to us because we are proud to be Puerto Rican and are allowed to display our flag.
Arroz Con Gandules and Pernil Recipe
Sofrito homemade or frozen (I prefer homemade)
Ground black pepper
Gandules (frozen or canned pigeon peas)
Medium grain rice
Pernil, we make a mixture of seasonings which consists of:
Chopped up cilantro
Jessica A., Margaritaville Resort Orlando
I am a native of Arecibo, Puerto Rico, which is on the northern part of this beautiful island. Arecibo, in particular, is known for the tiny, transparent fish called, Ceti. Locals use it to make alcapurrias, a very popular fritter dish. Puerto Rico is best known for their beautiful beaches. For me, it is the people that make this island so special. We look for ways to make visitors feel welcome and at home. When there are challenges and difficult times, we pull together and help each other as a united front. We are resilient and strong people. A great example of this would be Hurricane Maria. As you may remember, this was a category 5 hurricane that hit us in September 2017. We came together and survived the best we could through courage and patience and understanding. Many of the island is still feeling the effects of this natural disaster, but we dust ourselves off every day to do the best with what we have and help our neighbors in any way we can. National Hispanic Heritage Month for me is an important celebration because it recognizes the positive impact that Hispanic Americans have made, and continue to make, in the United States. I feel proud to say I belong to this group of people who strive every day to make their lives better and in turn, make this such a grand nation. I arrived in the United States 4 years ago and began building the next chapter of my life in Florida. I soon learned that the sunshine state has such a diverse Hispanic population from many different countries. As I said, I am very proud of my Puerto Rican roots, but I have enjoyed learning about the different cultures, traditions, and delicious foods. And although I no longer live in Puerto Rico, I do my part to help keep my traditions and customs alive and well. You can find me dancing to a salsa song sung by El Gran Combo (our top band), or enjoying our most popular dish, arroz con gandules and pernil (rice and beans with pork shoulder). During Christmas, we enjoy drinking Coquito, which is our version of eggnog. This delicious drink comes in endless flavors, but my favorite is cheesecake. I am excited to share my recipe for Coquito because I know you will enjoy it. I hope you make it a part of your tradition for years to come!
Cheesecake Flavored Coquito Recipe
1 – 13.5 oz can of coconut milk
1 – 13.5 oz can of coconut cream
1 – 13.5 oz can of evaporated milk
7 oz. of condensed milk
4 oz. of cream cheese
1 slice of original cheesecake (store bought or home baked)
1 Cup of White Rum
1 tsp- Vanilla Extract
1 tsp- Ground Cinnamon
2 Tbsp – ground graham crackers
1. In a large bowl, add all ingredients and mix on medium speed until smooth (about 30 seconds).
2. Pour into a 1.75-liter glass bottle. Old wine bottles work great!
3. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours to allow for ingredients to meld together.
4. When ready to enjoy, serve in 4 or 6-ounce cups.
5. Leftovers may be refrigerated