News / USA

US Immigrant Restaurateurs Share Dishes of Mexican State

Los Angeles is home to people from many countries who share their culture, and their food, with their neighbors. We talk with a family with roots in southern Mexico that is preserving and teaching others about their culinary traditions.

Gilberto Cetina Jr. and his father are conducting a special class to teach high school students about the food of Yucatan, their native state in southern Mexico. The food is distinctive, with marinades made from tropical spices and citrus.

Chef Cetina says his restaurant, called Chichen Itza after an ancient city of the Mayan people, appeals to people of all ethnicities. “We try to show our culture to the world,” he said.

Gilberto Cetina Senior worked for 20 years as an engineer. But for the past 11 years, he and his son have run this small restaurant in a Los Angeles marketplace. Critics have praised their cooking and included Chichen Itza on lists of the top Latino restaurants in the country.

Some of the food is standard Mexican fare, including tortillas, the ubiquitous Mexican flatbread. Other dishes have roots in the cultures of southern Mexico: the ancient Mayans and the more recent Lebanese immigrants. When they settled in Yucatan a century ago, they introduced a popular treat called kibis, fried patties of meat, bulgur wheat, mint and spices. Dutch merchants brought gouda cheese, which is now a local staple.

The signature dish, called cochinita pibil, is pork simmered in spices and wrapped in banana leaves.

The lives of Mexican immigrants revolve around family -- often extended families whose members live in both the United States and Mexico.  Son Gilberto Cetina Junior was raised on both sides of the border. “So I really got to experience the culture, the food. I was very involved with our family and obviously, anything that involves family with us involved cooking,” he explained.

US Immigrant Restaurateurs Share Dishes of Mexican State
US Immigrant Restaurateurs Share Dishes of Mexican State

The Cetinas have shared their family recipes in a cookbook called Sabores Yucatecos, or Yucatan Flavors. Most of the recipes come from Gilberto Cetina Senior’s mother and had never been written down.

Coauthor Katharine Diaz says the Yucatan peninsula, although a part of Mexico, remained somewhat isolated after the Spanish conquest 500 years ago. “And so it’s always maintained a bit of independence. Hence, its food is very different as well,” she stated.

Members of this immigrant family take pride in sharing their cuisine and traditions with their neighbors.




You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs