Qué Rica Comida!

If there's one thing that stirs up the pot among Latinos, it's talk about food or cooking. When it comes to food and cooking, our enthusiasm runneth over. When it comes to comida, we Latinos don't take a back seat. In fact, we stand and proudly proclaim our cooking credentials.

You'll enjoy a new site I found on Latinos in the kitchen called hispanickitchen.com , a social network site about Hispanic recipes, cooking and Latino food that is the brainchild of Jorge Bravo of Miami. I did something I rarely do, which is that I became a member of the site.

Hispanic Kitchen is an interactive site, meaning you can blog on it, write comments, post your recipes and video cooking demos. And although Bravo is Cuban American, the Web site aims to be pan Hispanic. In other words, Hispanic Kitchen represents the best of Latino home cooking. Read about the Web site in a Miami Herald article, titled "Food Website Aims to Be Abuela's Kitchen in Cyberspace."

The idea of social networking site focused on Latino cooking is not new. Many commercial food giants have been trying to tap into our love of cooking for years. General Mills, for instance, has poured lots of money into Qué Rica Vida, a Web site and a magazine, and with good reason. According to market research, Latinos cook at home more often than other groups and we like to use fresh ingredients. In an era of fast food and take-out food, we are a food retailer's dream.

To verify the authenticity of the recipes on Hispanic Kitchen, I watched the video on arroz con gandules or rice with pigeon peas posted by Chef Milani. This is a very typical Puerto Rican recipe. I knew it was "right" when I got a load of the pot. We Latinos like to use heavy-gauge aluminum pots and pans. The reason is, they "hold" the fire better. The pots are thick-skinned and take a little longer to heat and, therefore, protect against burning the food. You can find these pots at any bodega or Hispanic supermarket.

Chef Milani's video on making arroz con gandules was fun, easy to watch and follow, and the ingredients and results passed my test. One big drawback: There is no written recipe! What happened?  You can still catch the video here.

Hispanic Kitchen had a wide variety of recipes, the kind that go beyond the stereotypical. Its recipe page opened with "Canelones Rellenos con Gambas y Merluza," "Ají de Gallina," "Quiche de Calabaza," "Humintas," and "Salmon and Mango Ceviche," among other recipes. In other words, these are not your average taco recipes. The food photography was also quite yummy.

If food is your thing or you're always on the lookout for tasty new recipes, give Hispanic Kitchen a whirl. Better yet, post a recipe of your own or start your own recipe page or blog on the site.

Photo: The image posted here comes from another arroz con gandules recipe on Hispanic Kitchen. Note the authentic banana leaf covering for added flavor.

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