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Latina Heritage Dinner makes a return to Founders

Lola Skipper

In honor of Latina Heritage Month, a festive Founders Commons passed on serving the usual burgers and pasta in favor of authentic Latin platos that pleased palates weary of traditional dining hall food. Decorations hung from the ceiling, and the Cuban band Buena Vista Social Club pumped through the sound system as a diverse mix of students gathered around a buffet featuring a wide variety of dishes not just inherent to Mexico, but from other Latina locales.

The staff offered selections such as authentic pupusa, which is rounded cornmeal dough stuffed with cheese; ceviche, a cold seafood salad (“We put our hearts into that one,” said Founders chef Ivan Crump); and churritos, sugar and cinnamon pastries. Instead of coffee and sodas, students sipped Mexican hot chocolate and aguas fresca made of hibiscus flowers.

“Recipes came from family recipes from [another Founders chef] Alfredo,” Crump said. “Everything we did that night was authentic.”

The dinner won approval from students who were expecting only typical Mexican food. “I liked how it wasn’t just Mexican food, but foods from all Latina backgrounds and heritage,” said freshwoman Alice Mendoza. “I also liked the music.”

Students who participated in the Latina Heritage Month dinner saw it as a cultural celebration. “It was awesome, creative, festive, colorful and interactive as well,” said freshwoman Ixquel Sarin. “I liked the music, the colors and the culture, and also the variety of… foods.”

Many students indicated the dinner was a definite exito: success.

Mills community members can also look forward to more Latina Heritage Month events. Professor Deborah Berman-Santana will present the work she did while on sabbatical in Puerto Rico on Thursday, Sept. 22 in the Student Union, and a performing arts quartet Quijerema will be here the following Thursday, Sept. 29. Mujeres Unidas also hopes to host a “Latino Explosion,” inspired by Mills’ annual Pow Wow, to celebrate the largest growing group in the United States and Oakland by bringing together vendors, artists, speakers, entertainers and local non-profit organizations.