At Campbell, our Latino employee Network is a diverse group that’s dedicated to recognizing and leveraging the talents, perspectives and leadership of Hispanic and Latino employees. To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, a few members of this network share stories of their heritage through – what else? – food.
Melissa Aguilar, Diversity & Inclusion Specialist
I am a second-generation American, mis abuelos were from Puerto Rico and my dad immigrated from Costa Rica to the U.S. when he was 15 years old. I am very proud of the cultures and traditions that I share with my family and with millions of others. I celebrate those traditions with my family on special occasions, but mostly I celebrate everyday life moments like my mom teaching me how to cook my favorite Costa Rican dish, Chifrijo, to share with my family. That’s how we pass down traditions and cultures with each other but how do we share these traditions with others who are not Hispanic/Latinx?
Hispanic Heritage Month is just that opportunity. It’s a U.S. celebration from September 15th – October 15th, it’s a time for us Hispanic/Latinx individuals to celebrate our cultures and identities and to share with others in the U.S. I always thought that Hispanic Heritage Month was September 15th because we’re always late (at least in my family). Pero like turns out, September 15th and 16th mark the independence days of Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Mexico! See, even I’m still learning!
One of my favorite traditions to share is FOOD. Here you will see some of our Latino employee network’s favorite, authentic recipes…just like mamá used to make them.
Food is everywhere in my culture.
Our families get together on Sundays to eat. In my dad’s side of the family, my grandpa was an amazing cook and did all the cooking on Sundays – non-traditional in Hispanic cultures. My grandpa was a very formal guy; this was his way of telling everyone he loved us.
Paulina Romero, Senior Manager, Commercialization
I’m from Guanajuato, a state in the center of Mexico. My grandmother was an amazing cook. She LIVED in the kitchen. One of her signature dishes was fideo, the recipe I’m sharing today. Fideo is a dish made using the fideo noodle (like Mexican spaghetti), tomatoes, and spices. Hands down, she made the best version that anyone makes. She could make it with her eyes closed. I don’t know what the secret was, but it was always incredible.
Abuela helped my mom & dad raise me while my parents were at med school, and she made fideo 3-4 times a week. I saw her make it a ton of times, but I’ve never been able to replicate it. In fact, her recipe has been attempted by all the family members – my aunts, my mom – but nothing can live up to her version.
This version of Fideo from Campbell’s Kitchen uses Campbell’s Condensed Tomato Soup and Campbell’s Condensed Chicken Broth. While neither of these ingredients are technically “authentic” to making fideo, I really love the final product. It’s sweet, it’s savory, it’s a little spicy – it’s really tasty!
To me, fideo is comfort food, it’s love food, it’s everything to me. It reminds me of Abuela. I make it at home a lot to this day! I always eat fideo with avocado tacos – it’s just the best way to have it, in my opinion. My husband actually makes fideo better than me now. I’m pretty sure he learned everything from me, but just perfected it.
Latinos at Campbell offer the perspective of Latino people, especially in consumer understanding such as their relationship with cooking and overall food- something that is so tied to culture, so emotional – it’s not a thing you can study in a book.
Andres Romero, Marketing Manager, Beverages
Guascas is an herb found in Colombia. It’s considered a weed in many other places, but it’s the key ingredient in making Ajiaco.
Ajiaco is the most traditional dish of Colombia, where I’m originally from. It originates primarily from Bogota, Colombia’s capital. If you go to any traditional Colombian house on a Sunday, you’ll find this dish being served. It’s large, feeds a lot of people, brings family together. You always come back to your parent’s on Sundays, grandparents are meeting, cousins, brothers – every Sunday, I’m not making any other plans than to spend a day feasting with my family.
Ajiaco is a dish for every day, but more so a dish for special occasions, like Christmas and New Year’s. And it’s hearty, too – there are three different types of potato in ajiaco, including papa criolla, tiny potatoes that are native to Colombia (and they’re not so easy to get here in the U.S.!). The potatoes and other ingredients are slowly simmered until they melt creating a thick creamy like soup.
Traditionally people would make their own broth from scratch or use bouillon instead, including this soup. The original recipe for ajiaco has you cook the chicken with a bunch of spices to create the broth first and it takes a long time. Since I moved to the U.S, I’ve made it with Swanson broth and it’s a great shortcut. Cooking this dish with Swanson adds a unique flavor profile that makes it even better!
Now that I have two little girls myself, I realize that every single moment I share with them may be a defining memory in their lives. I’m proud to have such a rich heritage to share with them, and I can’t wait for them to be old enough to cook ajiaco with me.