Hispana and ProudMulticultural Vida

10 things that really represent Latino culture

You might have missed it, but earlier this week a Christmas ugly sweater company sent bloggers a pitch on “Hispanic ugly Christmas sweaters” (if you missed it, you can catch up on it on Latino Rebels or Unknown Mami). These sweaters are ugly at best and offensive at worst. I wish I had a bullhorn and could scream to the world: Ponchos, sombreros and burritos* don’t represent Hispanic culture.  If you go to Latin America, you will not see people wearing sombreros and waking around with big mustaches or riding burros.


So I asked some fellow bloggers and friends “What item represents Latino culture to you?” So here are 10 things that really represent Latino culture, by Latinos:

UN CALDERO – A Puerto Rican cooking cast iron pot. Frances Evans from  the blog Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes says, “When I moved to the U.S.A. I brought a “caldero” with me. You can’t make a good “arroz con gandules” without a “caldero.” Ask any Puerto Rican if they have a “caldero” and they will answer yes! Even my sister-in-law who moved from PR to the USA brought one in her carry-on!”


A MOLINO:  Linda Stone, from HispanicMama.com, says, “When I was a child, I remember every family owned a “molino” to make humitas (a pre-Hispanic dish made of corn.) Molino is part of the humita making tradition. I have the fondest memories helping mom or grandma with el molino. A few years go, I decided to get one and bring it with me so my children can learn and help with the humita making. It is always fun!! My American friends think it is the coolest kitchen gadget that there is.” 

A PILON (a mortar):  Eileen Carter-Campos, of MommyTeaches.com says “A pilón represents Latino culture for me because it reminds me of the delicious mofongo my abuelita would make for me. Having a pilón in my house is like having the my abuelita right by my side. The sounds of the garlic pounding inside that pilón brings back so many beautiful childhood recuerdos!”


A Venezuelan Cuatro: Marianna Du Bosq from Bilingual Avenue says ” A Venezuelan cuatro always makes me feel at home.”


AN HAMACA:  A hammock. These represent tranquility, beach, relaxation and can be found all over Latin American and Caribbean beaches.


photo credit: Bay of Banderas via photopin (license)

A PATACONERA: Platanos are a popular fruit- similar to bananas but must be cooked. A pataconera can be used to make patacones or tostones, mashed up plantains that are fried. If you haven’t tried it, they’re delicious.


A CAFETERA– A coffee maker… the stovetop like the one featured below is a staple in many Latin American homes. I’m not even sure what the official name to this is, but I do remember my grandma had one… and a good cafecito is a surely a part of many Latino households.


photo credit: Day 57 of 365: mom and daughter via photopin (license)

GUAYABERAS: While men may not walk around in ponchos and sombreros in Latin America, they do wear guayaberas for every day use or to to conduct business. It’s a lightweight and classy shirt. (By the way, most Latin American countries are VERY HOT year round– it baffles me to think that people think everyone wears a poncho?)

BANDERAS: The flags of Latin American countries – here’s an idea… what better way to represent all countries than to use their flags, instead of some stereotypical object?

country flags

Familia (and food!): If you don’t know by now that FAMILY is a super important part of Latino culture you’ve been living under a rock… and food, well come on, really?! Food and family really are the center of our culture. Julie from El Mundo de Pepita perhaps sums it up the best way possible: “For me, home, family, friends, wonderful memories so often are associated with food smile emoticon arepas, patacón (tostones) empanadas, CHURROS and so many more are yummies I think of because food brings us together, we share, we laugh, we are at the table enjoying each other’s company.

What symbols represent your culture to you? Leave your thoughts below! 

PS. Don’t get me wrong.. I think burritos are awesome. A burrito carried the very pregnant Virgin Mary to Bethlehem. Burritos are awesome, they are just not representative of a very rich culture and  you know the best villancico -Christmas carol- is El Burrito Sabanero — see below).

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Diana Limongi
Diana a mom, activist, nonprofit professional, podcaster and writer from Queens, NY. She writes about motherhood, activism, raising my multilingual kids, culture and travel. She and her multicultural family live in Queens, NY.


  1. Corn, rice, and beans. They are part of the diet of most countries in Latin America. Chocolate is more Mesoamerican, but also is grown in South America. Coffee is a foreign crop, but is also very widespread grown.
    Finally… la conquista… that bloody part of our heritage … that clash of civilizations our traumatic birth experience.

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