Fiesta Latinoamericana Brings a Taste of Latin America to Downtown Dallas

Alfajores from Irving's Argentina Bakery (photos Caitlin Adams)

If you missed yesterday’s 6th  annual Fiesta Latinoamericana, I feel sorry for your taste buds. The chilly temperatures couldn’t keep the crowd from the daylong event of children’s workshops, live music, cultural dances, and, you guessed it, food.

Anne Marie Weiss, president of DFW Community Alliance, helped organize the event and knew food would be a main attraction.

“Food is a language,” she said as she directed me to the tents. “”It brings people together and opens doors.”

This language brought me under a tent in which 95 percent of those present barely reached my knees. I felt a little out of place but was determined to learn how to make tortillas at La Tortilleria. This event was definitely in the children’s tent for a reason. Volunteers had already prepared the dough (with an instant mixture of masa and water) so there wasn’t much left to do.

Empanadas cooking in the Mexico tent

The children and I took the dough balls and flattened them using a metal disc that looked somewhat like a torture device. One push and ta-da! I made my first tortilla. I was a little bummed when I didn’t get to keep it, but I backed off when I saw the line of eager eyes waiting behind me.

Next I headed over to Cocina de la Abuela, or “grandmother’s kitchen.” An energetic woman with a microphone was whipping up the freshest Peruvian dish, quinoa salad. I took one bite of Paola Villarreal’s ensalada de quinoa and was sold. The dish was light and citrusy, and I may or may not have scraped my tester cup clean. No one likes a quinoa waster.

After I ate my weight in quinoa, I headed over to the main tent to see which food vendors I should visit. I ran into Ralph Hooda, chairman of DFW International Community Alliance, and he assured me that I couldn’t pick wrong.

“You’ll only find mom and pop stuff here,” he said. “There’s food here you can’t get anywhere else in Dallas.”

Booth offerings included alfajores (sweet biscuits joined together with mousse) from Argentina, ceviche from Mexico, Mi Maracuya, a fruit juice favorite, tamales, arroz y pollo, fruit salads, and shaved ice. My personal favorites were the flautas and empanadas I picked up. The batter tasted light and sweet, and crema fresca really does make everything taste better.

Ceviche was next on my list but my stomach begged me to take a break. I guess that’s the nice thing about annual festivals, there’s always next year.