Nuevo Latino Cuisine

Culinary Artistry, Community and Conversation

Peter J. Shields Lobby
Spring Quarter 2011 - Summer Quarter 2011

"There is perhaps no better way to understand a culture, its values, preoccupations, and fears than by examining its attitudes toward food." — Ken Albala, food historian, author and editor of the series Food Culture Around the World

Nuevo Latino Cuisine, the current Shields Library exhibit, presents a snapshot of an imaginative and diverse cuisine referred to in the U.S. as Nuevo Latin or Pan-Latin cuisine. Adventurous chefs, inspired by their Latino culinary heritage, meld fresh ingredients bursting with sabor (flavor), color and texture with the gastronomic traditions of Latin America, the Caribbean, the Iberian Peninsula and even California. Throughout Latin America, innovative chef are interpreting their traditional recipes through the lens of international cuisines from Asia, the Middle East, Europe and North America to create Gourmet Latino or Alta Cocina dishes. Issues of sustainability and globalization, aesthetic values and pride in a cultural heritage challenge these innovators to create an art form and to promote their work in contemporary books and periodicals.

The exhibit also looks at the antecedents of a contemporary cuisine considered by many to be exciting and by others to be a "hodgepodge" of taste, texture and form. The initial fusion cuisines evolved as successive groups of conquerors, colonizers and immigrants introduced their new foodstuffs and culinary techniques and blended them with indigenous Latin American ingredients and recipes. These mestizo and criollo recipes now are considered the classic national dishes of their countries. The influences of Spain and Portugal, Africa, China and Japan, Italy, Lebanon, and France, to name only a few contributors, appear in meals served within homes and restaurants throughout Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

Nuevo Latino Cuisine showcases items from the Library's collections that represent current scholarship in history, agricultural economics, anthropology and the life sciences about the native foods, the sustainability of agricultural practices and the impact of historical events on the definition of national cuisines and the cultural representation of these varied cuisines. Cookbooks document the culture and the values of families, ethnic groups and societies across time and geographic or political boundaries.

The Library will host on May 9th the convivium Nuevo Latino Cuisine: Culinary Artistry, Community and Conversation featuring speakers recognized internationally for their contributions to the culinary world of Latin American cuisine. Noted food historians, culinary consultants, authors and restaurateurs Ken Albala, Steve Sando and Leopoldo López Gil will discuss topics that include "The Roots of Latin American Cuisine," "Redefining the New American Kitchen: Bringing Latin American Heirloom Ingredients to the Modern Table;" and "The New, Modern Latin Cuisine." More information about this fee-based event is available at (

Shields Library Lobby Exhibit prepared by Myra Appel, Head, Humanities, Social Sciences and Government Information Services Department/Bibliographer, Latin American Studies; for more information about the convivium, contact