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Dec 10, 2009 09:11 AM

Spanish Food - appropriate nomenclature?

Is it appropriate to call it Spanish food or Latin American Food or Latino food?
what's PC? there are reasons for or against each.

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  1. "Spanish food" is the cuisine of the country Spain, as opposed to the cuisine of one of the many other nations where Spanish is the lingua franca. Latin America refers to many different countries with quite a diversity of cuisines, so it is most appropriate to refer to the relevant country, i.e., Mexican food, Argentinean food, Peruvian food, etc.

    1. Latino is politically correct, but...
      Having spent much of my youth in a Puerto Rican household, and taught in school district that was over 90% Latino, I can tell you that the Spanish speaking Latino community in the United States quite commonly uses "Spanish" to refer to themselves, their culture, and their food. Similarly, Brazilians in the United States will quite often refer to themselves as Portuguese. It's a lot like how Americans might refer to themselves as Italian, Polish, Korean, et cetera.
      As an outsider, your best bet is to use the most specific descriptor you can. Sometimes, as with nuevo-Latino, that will be Latino. More often it will be by country, Chilean, or region, Sonoran.
      Also, keep in mind that South American and Central American are different than Latin American. For one, they exclude Mexico and the Latino Carribean islands. Also, a number of nations in Central and South America are not Latino.

      1 Reply
      1. re: danieljdwyer

        I must say, my experience differs from yours on two fronts:

        1. i'm latino (Colombian) and have never heard anyone from my family network call ourselves 'Spanish'. Only mentioned in the context of (some of) our ancestors coming from Spain.
        2. Never been to Brazil, but have many Brazilian colleagues and never heard them talk about being "Portuguese". In fact, I would venture to guess it would insult them to suggest such a thing...they are fiercely proud of their homeland. Akin to someone calling a caucasian-american "English" (wrong on more than level, I know)

      2. I agree that it's best to refer to it by it's nationality i.e: Mexican, Cuban etc. I am Dominican and the food we eat is very different than Mexican but is similar to Cuban and Puerto Rican, but again different from Venezuelan and other nations.

        1. It's interesting, at least here in my part of NYC, to see restaurants offer when they advertise "Spanish" food. So it's useful to have the explanations above. One place locally says "Spanish food" but is Honduran (great chicken soup). Other "Spanish" places have little else than pre-fried foods held under heat lamps.

          1 Reply
          1. re: comestible

            I never saw Spanish used as a catch-all demonym the way Latino or Hispanic is used until I moved to NYC. I have never been exactly with using anything other than the nationality to describe a particular cuisine; "Latino" food is about as meaningless a descriptor as "European" food.

          2. Here in Miami which has arguably the most diverse community of folks from areas culturally derived from Spain, the general cultural or PC term "Latino" is used much less than "Hispanic." Curiously, everyone else (if he/she is Caucasion) is termed "Anglo," unless you are talking about skin color which has its own terms. None of it really makes any sense. With respect to food, restaurants generally are described by the country of origin; i.e., Cuban, Honduran, etc. unless you mean Peruvian/Chinese vs. Jamaican/Chinese. So many choices, so little time. What we do not have are many Mexican or Mexican regional restaurants. Visitors from elsewhere usually lump it all together and want to avoid all that "spicy" alien food,excepting CHs who know and appreciate the differences. To answer the OPs question, it all depends......

            1 Reply
            1. re: Sinicle

              I lived in Miami for almost seven years, and I cannot recall any food being called Spanish. In fact I only heard the word used in terms of the language or the very, very occasional Spaniard. Most non-Cuban 'Latino' restaurants would proudly display their heritage such as Peruvian. If they didn't then they were probably Cuban. It was the default.

              Latino in Miami definitely excluded Italian, so it had a different meaning to the English word Latin. It was used primarily to describe people of Spanish descent. I didn't know (m)any Brazilians so I don't know if that word was applied to them. And each country was proud of its unique cuisine, such as three-types-of-potato soup from Columbia.