Thanksgiving With a Latino Twist

Let’s face it: Unless your mezcla is part Pequot, Canarsee or Wampanoag, the tales of Puritan pilgrim settlers may not resonate. What we can relate to, however, is food and familia.

Still, if you think about it, some of the staple ingredients on a Thanksgiving menu -- corn, potatoes, calabazas -- are all inherently Latin. And the spices -- cinnamon, paprika, cilantro, vanilla and chiles -- all add distinctive sabor. Carolina Buia, co-author of the book Latin Chic, shares some quick tips on how to spice up your Thanksgiving feast, Latin-style.

Fill you home with giant Mexican paper flowers, which you can pick up at most craft stores. They don’t just add a pop of festive color; they’re also reusable and will stay beautiful all year long. Use a plain white tablecloth with colorful runners. Check for beautifully handcrafted ideas.

For the turkey, first brine the pavochón, then add an adobo rub or salsa valentina, a Mexican hot sauce. For a stuffing with mofongo-style dressing, add some green plaintains, garlic, salchicha and nuts to your recipe. Instead of mashed potatoes, serve boiled yucca with garlic mojo sauce. Or, go the rice route with some arroz con gandules and sofrito.

Whip up a tres leches cake, which is very festive and kid-approved. Or, substitute a creamy flan de calabazas for pumpkin pie.


  • Kid-friendly: Make a batch of tropical batidas of either guava, piña or passion fruit. Or, serve Jarritos instead of soda. These yummy Mexican sodas are made with real sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup.
  • Adult beverages: “Latin eggnog,” “coquito” and “ponche crema” are all different names for the same deliciously wicked rum drink. Buia recommends that you serve high-quality rum after dinner.

Kid Activities
Let them celebrate and get their ya-yas out by whacking a piñata that’s filled with Spanish dulces. sells authentic sweets to cater to all your nostalgic Latin cravings. LatinBag’s Luchador piñata is particularly awesome.

Don’t worry about having everything matchy-matchy. If you’re having a large party but don’t have enough plates, places like HomeGoods have plain white everyday dishware for only $1.50 per plate. They’re nicer-looking than plastic or paper, and you can reuse them for the next fiesta!

by Letisha Marrero