The Smithsonian Honors “Southern-Latino” Cookbook Author Sandra Gutierrez | Food Feature | Indy Week
Pin It

The Smithsonian Honors “Southern-Latino” Cookbook Author Sandra Gutierrez 

"Hispanics, the New Italians" by Rosalia Torres-Weiner

"Hispanics, the New Italians" by Rosalia Torres-Weiner

Two years ago, museum curator Ariana Curtis tasked her team at the Smithsonian's Anacostia Community Museum with identifying Latino immigrants who had achieved a distinct version of the American dream by explicitly expressing their culture, through anything from creative arts and construction to social justice and celebrations. They came across Sandra Gutierrez, a Cary cookbook writer whose early accomplishment was persuading Cary News that a Latina could manage the food section of a Southern newspaper.

Curtis knew she had struck gold.Gateways/Portales is all about everyday examples of community change, and changing foodways is a classic example," Curtis says of the exhibit that opened December 5. "We learn about a place through the foods we eat. Sandra was doing Southern-Latino food long before she literally wrote the book on the cuisine. She was doing this in North Carolina before it became mainstream and commonplace."

Gateways/Portales celebrates the work of Latinos in U.S. cities that have experienced rapid population growth since 2000. Raleigh-Durham's Latino population recorded an increase of more than 300 percent from 2000 through 2012.

Under a glass display case is a copy of Gutierrez's first book, The New Southern-Latino Table: Recipes That Bring Together the Bold and Beloved Flavors of Latin America and the American South (2011). Also included are her tortilla press, cast-iron skillet, and biscuit cutters. Together, they are a testament to a growing cultural diversity in Southern foodways.

"Her work comes from a place of kindness and understanding," says Curtis. "She is able to reach as many people as she does because of the person she is."

When Gutierrez was first contacted about participating a year ago, she jokes that she dismissed the overture as "a scam." "It still seems surreal," says the author, who this year won a Gourmand International award for her most recent cookbook, Empanadas: The Hand-Held Pies of Latin America. "To have my contribution to foodways acknowledged by the Smithsonian is more than I could ever dream of."

Gutierrez was dazzled by the exhibit, which she describes as an exuberant explosion of color that captures the diverse vitality of the Latin-American experience. Curtis uses the term Latinx, which is finding acceptance as a way to "get beyond the black-white binary of gender"—Latino, Latina—as well as reflect the "different hemispheric experiences" of people from many different countries.

"It's not a perfect term and there may be other ways to think about this," allows Curtis, who identifies as Latinx. "But just using this term makes people think. That's the best we can hope for, right?"

Several other North Carolinians are included in the exhibit. Representing the struggles of undocumented persons to be admitted and pay for college, the show features the cap and gown that Mexican-born Alma Islas, who arrived in North Carolina as an undocumented six-year-old, wore last spring when she graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill at age twenty-four. "Hispanics, the New Italians," a painting in which Charlotte artist Rosalia Torres-Weiner transforms the staid Statue of Liberty into a vibrant Latina, was selected as the show's representative image.

"The exhibit is a kaleidoscope of every struggle, every contribution, every effort—all the different aspects of life that Latinos have gone through in the past few decades in these four cities," Gutierrez says, noting that it also spotlights people based in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. "You leave with a sense of hope and joy at what we are accomplishing, and what we are contributing to this country."

Curtis says the exhibit will travel after it concludes on August 6. Locations have not yet been determined, but efforts are underway to ensure that it can be presented in each of the featured cities.

This article appeared in print with the headline "Nuevo South"


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Food Feature

Twitter Activity


We are a Greek family from Dallas who know good Greek food when we see it and are accustomed to …

by Taso on Kipos Greek Taverna (Orange County)

Don't waste your $$ here. Horrible service, mediocre food. From what we heard - kitchen turnover is the issue due …

by Ibaguru on Piedmont Restaurant (Durham County)

Most Read

Most Recent Comments

It's an amazing concept! I love it - it's so encompassing and includes everybody - the blessed and the blessers! …

by Laurel Archer on Food Triangle: At A Place at the Table, Raleigh’s Only Pay-What-You-Want Cafe, Maggie Kane Wants to Do More Than Feed the Hungry (Food Feature)

I loved the 100 Local column! So many dishes we have never heard of from places we have never been …

by S Finch on Eat Your Way From A to Z With 100 Local Dishes You Can Have Right Now (Food Feature)

It used to be "you need an education to make it anywhere." Now it's "do I really need tens of …

by Aiden on Food Trucks Are So 2016. The Now Thing in Mobile Food is on Instagram, and Its Name Is the Dankery. (Food Feature)

Not sure that the coarse language adds in any way to the story of this person and all his 'dope …

by RandyNC on Food Trucks Are So 2016. The Now Thing in Mobile Food is on Instagram, and Its Name Is the Dankery. (Food Feature)

The lack of awareness of the author and people she Quotes here is mind-blowing. They are literally accusing others of …

by Timothy Oswald on What Do Lakewood Residents Think of Their Neighborhood's Newest High-End Restaurant? (Food Feature)

© 2018 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation