WRITTEN BY ALFONSO VIDAL
The HOLA Festival has become a staple of the Evansville, IN region highlighting the Latino culture, food and people that work and live this community. This event showcases the diversity within our own Latino community to an eager crowd that wants to learn and taste more of this rich heritage.
On its 5th year, the HOLA Festival has built its foundations with financial partners like Center Point and Toyota that again this year have been the fuel that allowed HOLA to start the process of organizing the event. The process started with securing the award-winning entertainment that draws the crowd enthusiastic to have fun, dance, and listen to their favorite artists.
You will be able to find an excellent variety of Latin American food, from people’s favorite Mexican tacos to exotic Peruvian ceviche to intriguing pupusas to the many different and flavorful empanadas to trusted and local BBQ to delicious and refreshing chicha Morada to the sweetest Venezuelan Arroz Con Leche to the many more different opportunities to try new things. Many of these you have probably tried, but do you know the origins of these delicious foods.
The origins of the taco are not precisely known, and etymologies for the culinary usage of the word are generally theoretical. Taco in the sense of a typical Mexican dish comprising a maize tortilla folded around food. Indigenous origins are also proposed. One possibility is that the word derives from the Nahuatl word “tlahco”, meaning “half” or “in the middle,” in the sense that food would be placed in the middle of a tortilla. Furthermore, dishes analogous to the taco were known to have existed in Pre-Columbian society—for example, the Nahuatl word “tlaxcalli” (a type of corn tortilla). This meaning of the Spanish word “taco” is a Mexican innovation and in other parts of the Spanish-speaking world “taco” can mean other things as well. But in terms of food, when we speak of a “taco”, our mouth waters when we think of the wonderful flavors that we all know.
Lidio Vargas and his Taqueria Vargas is an old and trusted friend of the HOLA Festival and has worked with several restaurants in the area. This year for the first time he will feature his brand-new food truck. When you visit his food truck, buy his tacos and bite into it you will feel transported to Mexican streets where the flavors of this proud and rich culture will fill your senses and imagination.
Don’t forget to check out Teresa Alfaro and her booth Los Alfaro’s, now also a restaurant located on Weinbach Ave. Teresa’s hard work, helped by her husband Pedro, has persevered through enormous adversities to bring you the flavors of her food. They have always also been wonderful partners for the festival.
El Patron, in English “The Boss”, is a food truck coming to us from Lexington, KY to give us a taste of their wonderful tacos.
You can find other great tacos of the festival at Taqueria Doña Gloria and Taqueria Darly.
Tortas are the Mexican version of that old staple of world cuisine: a length of bread split lengthwise and filled with meat, cheese, or any other product that tickles the culinary imagination. Even though its origins are not completely clear, the torta is beloved in Mexico as a symbol of a gastronomical culture that favors convenience, imagination and versatility. For example, El Chavo del Ocho, the main character of one of the most popular Mexican sitcoms of all time famously craved tortas and was always plotting to get one.
One of the earliest mentions of a torta dates back to February 1864, when a newspaper ad included a reference to a “torta compuesta”, which can be roughly translated as “mixed torta”.
Some historians claim that the torta was created in Puebla, in south-central Mexico, before the Mexican-American war of 1846-1848. Under those circumstances, people sometimes lived hand-to-mouth and the torta reflects that kind of culture: it’s filling, cheap to make, and easy to carry around.
According to others, the creator of the torta was Armando Martínez Centurión, a humble man living in Mexico City, who in 1892 decided to sell bread stuffed with whatever filling he was able to find. To this day, Mr. Martínez’s tortería (torta place) is still open as a sanctuary for lovers of tortas from all around the world.
What sets apart the torta from, say, the hoagie, or other types of sandwiches, is the bread. There are different types of bread to make a torta, but the telera is among the most popular in Mexico. Historically, the ancestor of the telera is a whole wheat roll that was favored by Andalusian workers and was then modified in Mexico. The telera is oval in shape and the two incisions on its surface form three sections that are one of its main characteristics.
You will find these tortas at the Taqueria Doña Gloria where Gloria Reyes and her crew will delight you with her flavors. Taqueria Doña Gloria has been selling food at the HOLA Festival since the first year of the event and you can find her easily by the long lines that form in front of her booth. The HOLA Festival would not be the same without this trusted vendor.
Down from the south, in Kentucky, we bring you the new and exciting Taqueria Darly, where you will find also some delicious tortas. Welcome them and their efforts by enjoying every bite.
The roots of the burrito go back thousands of years. As early as 10,000 B.C., using corn tortillas to wrap foods was a common practice among the Mesoamerican cultures living in the region that is known as Mexico today. Historians believe this was the precursor to modern tortilla-based dishes like tacos and burritos.
But when we try to pinpoint the origin story of the burrito, things become a little murky. A very persistent theory alleges that the inventor of the burrito was a man named Juan Méndez, who rode around on a donkey. The “food of the donkey” became very popular and earned the ingenious invention the name “burrito” (“little donkey” in Spanish).
Another popular theory tells of an unnamed street vendor in Ciudad Juárez, who created the burrito in the 1940s, to sell to poor children at a nearby school. There is one more theory, according to which the burrito was invented in Sonora (a region in northwest Mexico) as a food that was easy to carry around while traveling. Since traveling was commonly done by donkey, the burrito was named after the travel companion.
You can eat the famous burrito at the Taqueria Doña Gloria or Taqueria Darly or Taqueria Vargas.
Like so many items on our festival, quesadillas originated in central and northern parts of Mexico, but the food item rapidly spread to all regions of the country. The literal meaning of quesadilla is “little cheesy thing”. The southern regions of Mexico are where we see the first use of queso and stringy cheese-filled quesadillas.
There is a great debate of course of who is responsible for the creation of the quesadilla. Was it the natives, or the Spanish settlers? Turnovers had recently become extremely popular in Europe and the Spanish settlers did bring those with them to Central America as they began to colonize, but the native people had been using corn tortillas for many years before the first Spanish arrived. This may be a debate similar to the chicken or the egg. Speaking of which, both are fantastic in a quesadilla!
We all love quesadillas, and here in the festival you can get them at Taqueria Doña Gloria, Taqueria Vargas, Taqueria Darly, El Patrón and Cinia’s Salvadorean Kitchen.
From a 2-hour drive, from Louisville KY, Cruz Barrientos puts forth her best to bring us the wonderful quesadillas made by the Pollo Chapín team. We are so happy to have them participating this year in our Evansville Latino Festival.
Tamales originated from Mesoamerica from as early as 8000 to 5000 B.C. From here it spread to Mexico, Guatemala and the rest of Latin America. Typically, tamales consist of a meat of your choice, processed corn, fillings of your choice, and leaf or other wrappers. Each country has its own twist on this famous dish.
Today we make and eat tamales for common holidays but back then it was said to have been made for the gods. Many families make tamales for special occasions like Christmas. Tamales were seen as “peasant” food and it fell out during the 19th century, but this changed after the Mexican revolution and tamales were considered a cuisine food and national cultural food.
Tamales can be a rigorous food to make if done from scratch, with as many as 120 steps. The classic tamal consists of one or more of the following: pork, chicken, jalapeños, beef, chili sauce, onion fillings, and garlic. However, one can prepare the tamales with the modern “masa” that is ready to go. This makes it much more convenient to buy the masa pre-made from the store when one decides to make them to sell, and even more convenient for our own consumption.
Regardless of making it from scratch or the “modern way” go to try a charming tamal at Taqueria Doña Gloria or Cinia’s Salvadorean Kitchen or Gollita Peruvian Cuisine.
Also, a great addition to the festival line-up is, Los Garcia, where Yenimar Garcia (Cinia Garcia’s daughter) brings us the proud heritage of the central America region. A region where the native and Spaniard cultures blended many, many years ago like many other places in the Americas. Come and eat their wonderful tamales.
It is often spelled seviche or cebiche, depending on which part of South America it originates from. Ceviche is seafood prepared in centuries old method of cooking by contact with the acidic juice of citrus juice instead of heat. The chemical process that occurs when the acid of the citrus comes in contact with the fish is similar what happens when the fish is cooked, and the flesh becomes opaque and firm.
Many have become fascinated by the tempting flavors of exotic tropical fruits and vegetables. From this fascination, many versions of Ceviche were developed. Ceviche is easy to make and can be prepared as a meal or as a fabulous appetizer for your next dinner party. The possibilities are endless.
Ceviche’s birthplace is disputed between Peru and Ecuador, and as both countries have an amazing variety of fish and shellfish. Every Latin American country has given seviche/ceviche its own touch of individuality by adding its own particular garnishes. In Peru, it is served with slices of cold sweet potatoes or corn-on-the-cob. In Ecuador, it is accompanied by popcorn, nuts, or corn nuts. It is also served in a large crystal bowl with the guests helping themselves, either by spearing it with toothpicks or filling the pastry shells. In Mexico, seviche is accompanied by slices of raw onions and served on toasted tortillas.
One of Evansville’s own favorite and another trusted partner for the HOLA Festival is Gollita Peruvian Cuisine. HOLA is especially proud of Gloria Bautista, whom after many years of coming to this and many other festivals, opened her own restaurant located on Morgan Ave. Ceviche can only be tasted at her booth in this festival. Gollita’s daughter Patricia Saavedra supports and helps her mother to make it a family affair.
Also seviche is served at Taqueria Vargas.
Elote simply translates to “corn” in Spanish (from Mexico). Elote goes all the way back to the Aztec civilization, and its popularity was well known throughout Mexico and Central America. Indigenous tribes would grow the crop and enjoy it on their journeys, but many would also sell and barter with it if there was a particularly successful harvest. Eventually, the crop spread to North America after Christopher Columbus landed on the continent.
Elote starts with a small piece of corn on the cob. The exact toppings vary, but it is usually covered in mayonnaise or crema, cotija cheese, salt, cilantro, cayenne pepper, and lime juice. For those who want to enjoy Mexican street corn as a mobile dish, a wooden stick is added to the center, and the corn is placed in a small paper container.
So obviously you can get the elote right here in Bosse Field, the name of the food truck? None other than CRAZY CORN. Vicky Reyes comes this year with a following that has developed from years of coming to the festival. We are so happy to have her again in the green lawns of the baseball field. If you want your palate to delight in the sweetness and spice of the famous Mexican elote, don’t forget to stop and get one.
Traditional Salvadoran pupusas are thick hand-made tortillas made of rice or corn flour filled with cheese, shredded pork, beans, or Loroca (Local edible flower). Pupusas, the national dish of El Salvador, is then topped with homemade “curtido” (a sour cabbage salad) and tomato sauce.
Salvadoran pupusas origin is the country of El Salvador. The history of Pupusas tells us that Pipil Indians invented the tasty Salvadoran pupusas in pre-colonial times. However, pupusas are found in any country or city that has a large Salvadoran population.
Pupusas are the most popular food consumed in El Salvador; they can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even snacks. It does not matter what part of the country you find yourself in; if you want to eat pupusas, you will always find a pupuseria nearby.
And here in Evansville it was really hard to find this tasteful dish, until recently. One of the latest restaurants in Evansville is Pupuseria Los Miranda located in Washington Ave. This restaurant was started by one of the most entrepreneurial families in this region, Los Miranda have food markets, car repair shops, beauty salons, graphic design company and other businesses. Come to eat their pupusas at Los Miranda food booth.
Another successful food truck in Evansville to eat pupusas is Cinia’s Salvadorean Kitchen. Cinia Garcia brings her wonderful cooking again this year to enchant us with her flavors.
You can also eat pupusas at Pollo Chapin food truck.
Flautas are a crowd-pleasing Mexican dish that can be made many different ways. “Flautas” is Spanish for “flutes.” If you’ve ever had this cuisine at a Mexican restaurant, you’ll immediately understand why. Flautas are made from tortillas that are filled and then rolled up and fried. The result: a long, thin, flute-shaped roll that’s extra-crispy and bursting with a savory, spiced filling.
Flautas are typically made with corn tortillas. They’re stuffed with a filling that may include shredded meat (usually beef or chicken), cheese, onions, or potatoes. The filling is usually spiced with additions like cumin, garlic, bay leaves, lime juice, cilantro, and/or cayenne pepper.
The filling is cooked on the stove so the flavors meld together. The filling gets spooned along the center of each tortilla. Then they’re rolled up tightly and secured with a toothpick. Each flauta is then fried in hot oil until golden brown and crispy.
Beatriz Fernandez in her booth Jalisco serves the crunchy and flavorful flauta and this booth will be the only one in the festival serving the dish.
Empanadas are fried or baked pastries stuffed with sweet or savory fillings. They’re known and loved throughout Portugal, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Philippines. The name comes from the Spanish verb empanar, which means to wrap in bread.
The empanadas we enjoy today are thought to have originated in Galicia, Spain. The idea of wrapping a hardy filling in pastry dough may well have stemmed from the Moors who occupied Spain for hundreds of years. A cookbook published in Catalan, Spain in 1520 includes empanadas made with seafood. The first empanadas in Western Hemisphere are credited to Argentina.
It’s said that the art of making a perfect empanada is to hold the dough, spread open, in one hand, while using the other hand to fill it and to crimp the edges. It’s considered acceptable to eat empanadas at any meal, including breakfast, but they’re usually enjoyed at lunch or as a snack. They can make a full meal on their own and no one will leave the table hungry.
Many booths and food trucks in the festival are making empanadas for you to enjoy right now. Come to Jalisco or Pollo Chapin.
Especial mention for empanadas is Taste of Cuba, Barbara Gutierrez DeJarnett y Don DeJarnett reminds us that Cuba is not only the Island in the Caribean with the tumultuous history but it is also a rich culture full of tasteful dishes. Other dishes from Taste of Cuba are fruit pastries, meat pastry, and Cuban sandwiches. Try Taste of Cuba for an immediate trip to the island’s heritage.
The Arepa is the fundamental base of the Venezuelan diet, but certainly, it is also present in other countries of the region like Colombia. Between these two nations exists a silent fight about who invented it. But the truth is that it is hard to determine the origin of the Arepa, because at one point in the history of the continent, both countries shared territory, so, the indigenous, who are those responsible for its creation, were spread all over the land.
In the 1950’s, the precooked corn flour or meal was invented, just needing water and salt to create a homogeneous dough that can be cooked and eaten in many different ways.
Throughout the Venezuelan territory, you can find and infinity of types of Arepas. The Venezuelan Arepa is internationally famous for its colorful fillings and historic names, Reina Pepeada, or Beauty Queen (chicken with avocado, mayonnaise and peas), Sifrina, or Upper Class Girl (Ham and cheese), Pelúa or Hairy (Shredded beef and chicken), Domino (White cheese and black beans), Llanera or Country (Grilled meat with tomato and cheese), among many others.
The Colombian Arepa has different uses and is consumed differently and became popular in other ways like the famous “Arepa de huevo” or egg Arepa, which is a fried Arepa, opened, with an egg on the inside and fried again.
The versatility of the Arepa underlies the fact that it is a dish with no time to eat: it can be breakfast, lunch or dinner, and is the favorite of Venezuelans after a party night and it is never missing at the end of a wedding or graduation.
The Gemelas de Venezuela or Twins from Venezuela in English, are the only booth serving this wonderful dish. Come and taste the pride of every Venezuelan living both in Venezuela and outside of this country where the recent migration of its people are exporting the flavors of a proud nation.
We have many more flavors for you to taste.
It could be a good’ol USA barbeque from C&W BBQ or loaded fries from Let’s get fried.
Or some sweet tasting from Kona Ice, or Gemelas de Venezuela with “Arroz con Leche” and ice cream.
Or some refreshing drinks like Tizana from Gemelas de Venezuela, aguas frescas from Taqueria Doña Gloria, Chica Morada from Gollita Peruvian Cuisine, Orchata or Jamaica from Cinia’s Salvadorean Kitchen.
Tacos el Meny, brings us a tasteful and refreshing combination of aguas frescas and fruits especially made the Mexican way. You don’t want to miss this rush of flavors especially made by Roberto Gomez and his team.
But the HOLA Festival is not only about food and music. Every year we have a number of vendors with artisan pottery, traditional clothing, boots, hats and much more that encompasses a wide range of items. Come to the bazaar area to visit with some of these vendors.