Cooking up culture

“A way to show love is through food. A home-cooked meal is a silent ‘I love you, I care for you.’”

That’s one reason food and cooking are so important to Jocelyne Valenzuela, president of NAU’s Latinx Student Union (LSU), and why they and other members of LSU are working on a cookbook of Latin American recipes to share with the community. Food brings people closer together in most Hispanic cultures by allowing them to connect while sharing a home-cooked meal.

“It is also an amazing way to share recipes from other Latin American countries with each other, or even students from different cultures can learn how to cook Latin American food,” Valenzuela said. They’re studying International Affairs and Criminology and Criminal Justice.

This cookbook also aims to remove gender norms from the kitchen. Cooking is often seen as a woman’s job, especially in Hispanic cultures, but by providing recipes to NAU students, anyone can learn to cook, making it an easy way for people to take care of themselves. Everyone deserves to eat the food they love and grew up with, and these recipes can help students feel like they are home—and introduce others to new foods.

“My favorite recipe so far would have to be chilaquiles, but that is mostly because it is not only delicious and healthy, but it is cheap, filling and quick to make, which are all important for college students who are low on time and money. This can give students a homey meal that won’t cost them much,” Valenzuela said.

Many different types of recipes can be found in the cookbook, including dinners, soups, breakfasts and desserts. Recipes are still being collected and students, faculty and staff who have a recipe they want to share for the cookbook are encouraged to do so. Submit recipes through this form.

The project is just one part of a larger celebration for Hispanic and Latina/o/x Heritage Month. From Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, the Office of Inclusion and LSU are hosting events to honor Hispanic and Latinx culture.


“To me, Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to learn and celebrate Hispanic achievements and history. Especially since much of the U.S. education system revolves around white accomplishments, it is nice to focus on leaders and heroes of the Hispanic community and see how they have changed the world,” Valenzuela said. “It is a time for hope—to remember that we are not the firsts. There are many people who have already been scientists, doctors, teachers and artists, each respected and cherished in their own way. But it is also a time to be proud and bring people in, to show everyone what we love of our culture and hopefully encourage more people to appreciate it too.”

Once the cookbook is complete, it will be available as a free download on the Latinx Student Union website.

Northern Arizona University LogoMaddie Blunier | NAU Communications

NAU Communications