Category Archives: Spanish

Consume Caffeine in a Creative Way

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Coffee is oftentimes considered a college student’s best friend, and I can attest to that.  Coffee is what I rely on to be my morning pick-me-up or my midday energy boost. But I must give credit where credit is due, and I’d like to thank Ethiopia for this wonderful cup of bliss I am holding.

One Coffee Co. on N. Central Ave. (Photo by Gabrielle Castillo)

Ethiopia is believed to be the birthplace of coffee, and wasn’t consumed until the Arab world caught wind of its mesmerizing aroma.  It eventually spread to India, and soon enough took over all of Europe.  Today, the top coffee producing countries aren’t in Europe, but in Central and South America and Asia.  Brazil is responsible for producing the majority of the world’s coffee to date.

Living in the urban environment that is downtown Phoenix, I’ve stumbled upon various coffee shops in the area. Late this afternoon, I ventured down Central Ave. to One Coffee Co. to enjoy whichever coffee on the menu caught my eye. In a month like October, I’m immediately drawn to anything and everything with the word “fall” in front of it, and this afternoon, the “Fall Specials” menu had me at hello.

Two words: Spanish Mocha.

Spanish Mocha (Photo by Gabrielle Castillo)

A café mocha is a classic coffeehouse beverage that is an adaptation of the café latte. The café mocha is known for its subtle chocolate flavor. The Spanish Mocha, however, is made like a  normal café mocha with the addition of cayenne pepper. This combination of sweet, bitter, and spicy can be found in coffee throughout the Americas (a favorite of the Mayans).  Adding the cayenne pepper to the coffee did not create a spiciness similar to that found in a typical spicy dish.  This is an evident spicy that is felt in the throat rather than on the taste buds, adding to the warmth of the coffee itself.

I’ve come across a unique coffee blend or two, but this was the most interesting (and delicious) blend I’ve experienced.  The next time you go on a coffee run, don’t be afraid to wake up with a little flair and try those uncommon blends of coffee.  You never know when you might stumble upon your next preferred coffee beverage.

Enjoy!

– Gabrielle Castillo

A Jazzy Meal from Down South

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Cajun cuisine is one of the most diverse types of cuisine in the world of food today. Several of its dishes are arranged like a symphony of world influence, compiled of flavors found in African, Caribbean, French and Spanish dishes. There is no better way to introduce this medley of flavors than throwing them all into one Cajun dish, and that dish, would be gumbo.

Originally from Louisiana, gumbo is a thick stew or soup, that emerged in the 1700s. Gumbo was a cheap way to make a large quantity of food at one time, using minimal amounts of meat. Since a multitude of nationalities lived together in the south, gumbo was a proactive way to share cultural differences through the food they created.

Cajun gumbo (as opposed to Creole gumbo) is heavier with French influence and is often darker and spicier. A typical Cajun gumbo is made with roux, which is a cooked wheat and flour mixture. Roux is what gives gumbo its stew-like consistency.

Upon adding any type of shellfish or meat (andouille sausage, catfish, shrimp) and vegetables (bell peppers, celery, onions) the heat factor is a necessity, and Cajun gumbo is widely known for its spicy quality. What gives this dish its heat is the liberal amounts of cayenne pepper used in each batch. A nice way to balance out the assortment of flavors and spices, is pouring the gumbo over rice.

As you may have already inferred, gumbo is a perfectly hearty meal made to serve many. So, at your next gathering, why not break out the trumpet that’s been hiding in the attic? Turn your home into its very own French Quarter and share a gumbo recipe or two with friends and family.

Bon appétit!

– Gabrielle Castillo

Spanish Tapas: Not Your Typical Afternoon Snack

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During the hours between lunch and dinner, it is common to go searching for a snack to sustain one’s appetite for four to five hours.  Sometimes we satisfy our cravings with simple foods such as milk and cookies, fruit, or popcorn.

Albondigas (flickr.com/latasca)

In Spain, the hours between lunch and dinner are usually far longer, but the midday hunger is welcomed by several small dishes known as tapas.

Tapas are small appetizers in Spanish cuisine that can range from something as simple as aceitunas (olives with a red pepper filling) to something as distinct as chopitos (small squid, battered and fried).  Tapas serve the purpose of satisfying midday hunger and as food to enjoy while wine tasting or bar-hopping (a typical activity between work and dinner).

Last year, I made a trip to a Spanish restaurant in Fullerton, California, called Lizarran.  At Lizarran, I was able to have a unique food experience in learning that this was no typical afternoon snack.  While I was there, I sampled a few tapas, and my favorite was the Albondigas con Tomate (Spanish-style meatballs in tomato sauce).  It wasn’t the most adventurous of choices, but the Spanish-style meatballs introduced a flavor different from the typical Italian meatball.

However, I do encourage going out on a limb and trying the tapas that leave your mouth watering, or make you cringe just by the description.

The pulpo a la gallega graciously awaits your arrival.

¡Disfrute!

– Gabrielle Castillo