Latin Twist: Latin-Style Mother’s Day Treats


Well, my friends, unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, haven’t read the newspaper, watched television, checked Facebook, or walked into a holiday-driven locale, you know that Mother’s Day here in the US is on Sunday.

Actually, in many countries of Latin America, El Día de la Madre is celebrated on a different day! In the Dominican Republic, it’s the last Sunday in May, while in Costa Rica it’s August 15th. In Argentina, it’s the third Sunday in October. In Panama, it’s the 8th of December.  So that many countries will celebrate with us on May 12th, Mother’s know that you could celebrate again and again if you time your travels and carefully plan your destinations. (Sorry—this is coming from someone obsessed with the International Date Line and the idea that I could feasibly celebrate my birthday two days in a row if I traveled “back” in time. Okay, I’ve grown out of that slightly…but you get the idea!)

Ah—I’ve digressed!

Back to the theme: Mother’s Day. Mis queridos amigos, we all know that Mother’s Day is every day (!), but that we should—on this day—find some things that would make mom happy. How about some Latin-style Mother’s Day treats?

In case you’re wondering what they might be, and in honor of this celebration, I’m sharing a few of my favorite Latin-Style treats: one a sumptuous sip, a savory bite, another sweet, and a final treat that is just fabulously gorgeous and aromatic (and okay, neither particularly edible nor Latin!).

1) Guatemalan Rum (And no, that bottle wasn’t full when I started writing!);

2) Brazilian Cheese puffs;

3) Dominican Brownies; and

4) Flowers. (Okay, you can’t eat flowers, but aren’t these lilacs amazing?!)Cheese Puffs, Brownies, Rum--and Flowers!

About the rum, I first sampled this rum in Guatemala, many moons ago. At the time I was making frequent trips; I was lucky enough, thanks to my “other” life,  to be invited on several occasions to speak to teachers about teaching writing to ESL (English as a Second Language)  students. After being introduce to this fabulous, mahogany-colored and brown-sugar-matched-with-citrus and slightly-cinnamon and cocoa-flavored rum, I was smitten. My hosts always greeted me with a bottle or two that I’d lug home in my suitcase, carefully, carefully, carefully wrapping it and hoping, hoping, hoping it would make the trip.

Alas, things have changed! A few years ago, I was talking to one of my favorite spirit experts, David Paonessa at Wine Bazar, and telling him about oh, how fabulous this Guatemalan rum was, and how I had taken great pains to get it from Central America to New York; I was so proud of my packing prowess.  “But Arlen,” he laughed as I recounted my tale, “don’t you know that we can get it right here in New York?” So my days of feeling like a bit of a pirate  (bringing home treasures like exotic rum from Central America) are slightly over. However, happily my days of sipping Zacapa here at home continue!

As far as the other recipes, I wrote about Brazilian Cheese Puffs here, some time ago, and the brownies, found in my In the Kitchen with Arlen blog.  The lilacs (ah…they smell so lovely) are thanks to my great gardener husband, Seth.

Happy Mother’s Day to you all!



About Author

Maybe it was the dinner parties my mom always threw—or the hours I spent prepping and cooking alongside her (and then on my own!). Or maybe it was array of fabulous dishes that my family sampled in New York City’s richly diverse restaurants, but I’ve loved creating, savoring, and sharing food for as long as I can remember. Living in Spain, and later in Peru, also greatly influenced my life. These years abroad taught me Spanish—and about living in different countries--but also introduced me to teaching English as a second language, which I’ve done—mostly in the US-- for the past 20-plus (yikes!) years. I’ve authored two cocktail/tapas books, Mambo Mixers and Calypso Coolers, coauthored more than 15 others (mostly food related!), and raised two children. Now I'm chef and owner of my own restaurant, Mambo 64 in Tuckahoe, New York. My message is the same, whether I'm teaching, writing, running the restaurant or being a regular guest on the Spanish-language network Telemundo (on the morning show, Buenos Días Nueva York!). My belief in food—and the power of food—is far reaching, and is married with another one: the power of stories. I’m sure that if we could all sit down and have meals together, sharing both tastes and tales, we’d have peace on earth. Enjoy!

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