Afro-Latinidad people across Latin America have rich food cultures that reflect their intersectional heritage. Explore their diverse stories this Hispanic Heritage Month.
Afro-Latinidad is the collective cultural identity that describes people of African descent who live in or have roots in Latin America. This includes nearly 200 million people across 19 Latin American countries.
Recognizing the various facets that make up a person’s identity is crucial in acknowledging intersectionality. This is especially true for Afro-Latinidad individuals, whose roots come from diverse ethnic, historical, and racial backgrounds. By respecting and acknowledging these different facets, we can embrace the full complexity of a person’s identity.
Despite their significant contributions to Latinx culture, Afro-Latinidad individuals often face economic and cultural marginalization due to societal discrimination. By acknowledging intersectionality in cultural celebrations, we can put an end to this marginalization and make all communities feel seen and valued. It is crucial to recognize the importance of representation and actively work towards inclusivity.
Hispanic Heritage Month provides a unique opportunity to celebrate the rich and diverse cultures of the Afro-Latinidad community. As individuals and companies, we should actively acknowledge these identities and histories. By embracing their heritage, we can actively work towards creating a more inclusive and equitable society.
Food carries a deep cultural significance for communities around the world. It tells stories of history, travels, and experiences that shaped the present day. It also connects communities to their ancestors and preserves their culture. Below are some highlighted Afro-Latinidad communities and their unique food cultures.
The Garifuna people are an Afro-Latinidad community living along the Caribbean coast of Central America, primarily towns and villages in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. They are the descendants of the West and Central African, Arawak, and Carib people who were brought to the Caribbean as slaves. They were then exiled to Roatan by hostile British forces in the 18th century. Harsh conditions forced them to relocate yet again to the Caribbean Coast.
The Garifuna have a rich food heritage with signature dishes such as the hudutu (a fish stew made with coconut milk and served with plantains) and the ereba (a cassava bread made from grated cassava and coconut milk). Garifuna food culture reflects their history of migration across the Caribbean and Central America. Seafood, plantains, cassava, and coconut milk-based dishes like darasa are also staples for this community.
Limón is the 7th largest city in Costa Rica and home to nearly 100,000 Afro-Costa Ricans. In the late 19th century, Jamaican, Italian and Chinese workers voluntarily and involuntarily migrated to Costa Rica as indentured railroad laborers.
Consequently, their food culture bears a Caribbean twist heavily influenced by Jamaican cuisine. Some of the staples the people of Limon enjoy include rondón (a seafood soup made with coconut milk, fish, and root vegetables), rice and beans, jerk chicken, and callaloo. Their dishes represent the rich land and sea from which the ingredients are derived.
The Maroons represent various communities of enslaved Africans and Indigenous peoples who escaped in plantations. These folks developed Free Towns across the Caribbean that resisted colonial oppression for years.
Today, Maroon communities exist everywhere – from Mexico & Ecuador to Colombia & Brazil. One of the most well-known Maroon communities resides in the Palenque de San Basilio, Colombia.
These Afro-Latinidad groups developed rich food practices that reflect their history of resilience. For example, in Jamaica, the practice of cooking spiced meats in smokeless underground pits developed to avoid being discovered by colonizers – a tradition we now know as “jerk”.
Maroon communities also enjoy dishes such as mojarra fish and coconut rice, a simple dish served on banana leaf, callaloo, and ackee & saltfish.
In the United States, Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 to October 15 to honor the legacies, traditions, and achievements of Americans with Hispanic roots. What better way to incorporate Afro-Latinidad identities in your team-building celebration than through food!
Book a cooking class with an Afro-Latinidad chef like this virtual sofrito-making class with Chef Corey. Attend events hosted by Afro-Latinx organizations or shout-out Afro-Latinidad-owned businesses on social media.
Celebrate these rich cultures while amplifying diverse voices and support minority-owned businesses.
Explore our virtual and in-person cooking classes, mixology experiences and more — all hosted by Black chefs and culinary creators.