Born and raised in South Florida, Cuban food tastes like home to me. It’s funny because whether you are Hispanic, American, Asian, European, etc., if you are a South Florida local you know every Cuban dish in the book! Cuban cuisine was another very difficult thing for me to even think about giving up to go vegan. Luckily, most of the traditional sides are vegan or can easily be made vegan. With this specific meal it is actually extremely easy to include the pan-fried chicken because products like Gardien’s Chick’n Scallopini are a damn blessing!
Although from a Colombian family I love and appreciate foods from other Hispanic countries. One of my favorite snacks has always been Argentinian empanadas. The flaky, yet crispy crust and delicious fillings are something I constantly crave. In order to satisfy that craving I used to go and pick some up from the Argentinian bakery, but since they traditionally have meat and dairy ingredients, I now have to create my own!
Mexican food has always been in my top five favorite cuisines. Honestly, I think it’s in everyone’s top five favorites and if not, it should be! Because of Mexico’s proximity to the U.S., there are Mexican restaurants in almost every city of every state. We also have a bunch of “Mexican” chain restaurants booming across the states, but what many don’t realize is that most of these places are extremely americanized.
“Tex Mex” cuisine has the same basic ideas and names as the original Mexican dishes, but caters to what the typical American would actually eat or find more delicious. For example, true Mexican tacos do not have a hard shell, they are actually made with soft corn tortillas. Also, authentic tacos don’t include cheese, lettuce and tomato as toppings, which is how every Southwestern restaurant serves them. Don’t get me wrong, Americanized tacos are a munchies dream! But real deal Mexican tacos are a different type of fresh and amazing!
I have always felt extremely lucky and proud of being hispanic, specifically Colombian, because I have been able to live and experience such an amazing culture every day. Living in South Florida you get to see everyone’s diversity manifest itself in so many awesome ways and of course food is at the top of the list! This was the main reason I thought for so long that a vegan life-style would not work for me. I would miss out on this cultural gift that I’d known my whole life. So I’d continue every day convincing myself that being a carnivore was necessary because it was all I knew….
To start off my Hispanic Heritage month series (ssshhh!…I know I’m over a week late), I decided to begin with a simple favorite: Chicken Quesadilla! Obviously, this title seems like the antithesis of vegan but with a little help from some plant-based substitutes we can easily emulate the deliciousness of a chicken quesadilla. Warm tortilla? Check!…Melted “cheese” that stretches?Check!…Crispy “chicken”? Check!
Although this is totally a basic bitch, Americanized version of a true Mexican quesadilla it is still an easy, guilt-free, and yummy way to get your fix!