Libraries celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month
By Kevin Milliken for La Prensa
Oct. 6, 2012: Hispanic Heritage Month wrapped up Sat., Oct. 6, 2012 with a multi-level celebration of culture, dance, and cuisine at the main branch of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library downtown and at the Lorain South Public Library. The events are traditionally some of the last ones scheduled for the Latino communities.
In Toledo, El Corazón de México Ballet Folklorico kicked off the celebration with one of its many public dance performances in the Wintergarden Room.
But the smells of a typical Latino Sunday afternoon meal with family wafted from the Huntington Meeting Room, where Lina Barrera and and her sister-in-law Syndi Guerrero were preparing a traditional feast of fall flavors.
That aroma drew more than 100 people who were treated to a lunch of Calabacitas con Pollo (chicken with autumn squash, corn, and zucchini). The pair also prepared fideo, a Mexican pasta side dish, ranchero pinto beans; homemade salsa, and flour tortillas.
“It’s a one-pot meal, a family-oriented dish—especially with all the squash and zucchini that we have ample supplies this time of year,” explained Ms. Barrera, who hopes to soon open a catering business with her sister-in-law. “Sometimes it’s made as a vegetarian (dish), sometimes with chicken or pork.”
She laughed about the large number of people they cooked for, because the pair ends up making meals for that many people in their own family. But she stated she enjoys cooking traditional dishes to share with the general public at the annual event.
“Sharing the culture for one thing,” said Ms. Barrera. “Now you see a lot of our products in the mainstream and people are very curious about the products they see on the shelves and they don’t know how to use them. Our goal is to teach them how to and not to be afraid to use them.”
“They bring a different twist, a different flavor than what you’d expect from Mexican food,” said library supervisor of facilities and operations Mateo Espinoza, who co-chaired the Hispanic Heritage Month celebration. “You don’t see a lot of squash or pumpkin in typical Mexican foods. They bring it out there and show you how to do it.”
The two women have cooked together for more than 35 years and currently teach cooking classes as well.
It’s just so fulfilling in many, many ways. We’ve met so many people and they are very, very curious about it—about our food and our culture,” said Ms. Barrera. “It’s a creative way—it’s artistic: using all the different colored vegetables and all.”