Recipe showcase honors Hispanic Heritage Month

Western+Kentucky+University+102+students+make+Tres+Leches+Cake+during+a+recipe+showcase+for+Hispanic+Heritage+Month+at+WKU+in+Bowling+Green%2C+Ky.+on+Sept.+26%2C+2022.+

Jake Mealey

Western Kentucky University 102 students make Tres Leches Cake during a recipe showcase for Hispanic Heritage Month at WKU in Bowling Green, Ky. on Sept. 26, 2022.

B Turner, News reporter

Western Kentucky University Spanish 102 students roll dough to make Alfajores during a recipe showcase for Hispanic Heritage Month at WKU in Bowling Green, Ky. on Sept. 26, 2022. (Jake Mealey)

Three students worked together to roll out dough to fill with the ground beef and vegetables they have frying on the stovetop. The dough and beef was soon to become handmade empanadas, and they smelled delicious. 

WKU’s Hispanic recipe showcase, held Monday in the Academic Complex, displayed many examples of traditional Latin American cuisine cooked by students.

Yertty VanderMolen, a Spanish instructor, started the project because her Spanish 102 students were in the middle of their food unit as Hispanic Heritage Month began.

“I decided that this was gonna be a neat project for my students to honor Hispanic Heritage Month, but at the same time their learning [of] the culture and our [food] unit,” VanderMolen said.

At first, students were told they could choose what to cook. Everyone wanted to cook different things, so they organized into groups to make eight main dishes. The students laughed together as they cooked, passed ingredients to one another and shared in the group activity.

The first dish was empanadas based on recipes from the Dominican Republic. The second dish was sandwich el Cubano. 

The third dish was a traditional Peruvian recipe called causa limeña de pollo. It is served cold with chicken and mixed with carrots and peas with a layer of guacamole placed on top. The students used a large industrial blender to make the guacamole. 

VanderMolen said that the dish was named causa limeña because it originated in Lima, the capital city of Peru. A vegan option was also available in the choice of a veggie burger wrapped in lettuce instead of between two pieces of bread or a bun.  

The students laughed together as they cooked, passed ingredients to one another and shared in the group activity.

The fifth dish was carne asada tacos. The students explained the meat was able to cook quickly due to how thin it was. The room was filled with the smell of cooking cakes, meat, and dough. 

The final non-dessert dish was Challah bread, made by a student celebrating the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashanah.

Western Kentucky University Spanish 102 students make Empanadas during a recipe showcase for Hispanic Heritage Month at WKU in Bowling Green, Ky. on Sept. 26, 2022. (Jake Mealey)

“One of my students is Jewish, so she cannot be here with us because she is celebrating her holiday,” VanderMolen said. “But she made this delicious bread.”

The two dessert dishes were tres leches cake, which is served chilled; and alfajores, which are Peruvian chocolate and coconut cookies. The smell of coconut hung in the air.

There are still more Hispanic Heritage events planned for the coming weeks.

A Hispanic arts showcase will take place in room 3020 of Downing Student Union on Oct. 3 from 6-7:30 p.m. On Oct. 4 at 7 p.m. in the Gary Ransdell Hall Auditorium, Julio Capó, an associate professor of history at Florida International University in Miami, will be presenting a lecture on how Latin American and Caribbean queer immigrants and migrants have impacted U.S immigration law. 

The final event is a game night on Oct. 5, giving students a chance to play the traditional Mexican game of lotería, often referred to as Mexican bingo. The event starts at 5 p.m. in room 1011 of the Mahurin Honors College.

News reporter B Turner can be reached at [email protected]