Holiday recipes around the world and other tidbits

The leaves have fallen, the weather is changing, and we are all counting down the days not only until fall break, but to the holidays in December. We are lucky to be at such a diverse institution, with people from all walks of life, speaking different languages, and sharing different cultures. With the holidays coming, although everyone has different traditions, we all share the universal language of food. The look that we get when we see a table of our favorite treats during the holidays is most likely the same in all cultures. My favorite treats around the holidays tend to be tamales, stuffing, and tostadas. What foods do other cultures cook or bake around the holidays? Lucky for you, you can sit back and drool over all the great dishes I am about to show.


First, we have tamales (my all time favorite). According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, tamales are part of Mexican cuisine. They are a small and steamed piece of dough with a filling of meat, salsa and/or cheese.  My favorites are the ones with chicken and “mole.” My mother and grandmother make these for Christmas Eve. Although we have not all been together for the holidays for the past couple of years, it’s still a fond memory.

Tamales. Photo courtesy of lucianvenutian via Flickr Commons

Tamales. Photo courtesy of lucianvenutian via Flickr Commons

Greek Dolmades are a delicious hot dish to eat around the table on the holidays. This dish consists of young leaves from the grapevine, that are stuffed with lemon-flavored rice, onion, and ground lamb. Complimenting these is avgolémono; sauce of egg yolks and lemon juice. Does this sound like something you might want to cook during the holidays? Be sure to checkout this great book we have available at the library, “Cooking the Greek Way: Revised and expanded to include new low-fat and vegetarian recipes”

Greek Dolmades. Photo courtesy of Geoff Peters via Flickr Commons

Greek Dolmades. Photo courtesy of Geoff Peters via Flickr Commons

Get ready for a French dessert to top off your great holiday meal. Bûche de Noël is a Yule Log cake with coffee buttercream and ganache. This is a traditional cake that is served in France and also Quebec. It’s basically a sponge cake filled with cream. We all need a little French in our lives, so how about checking out some French cookbooks.

Bûche de Noël. Photo courtesy of Caitlin Childs via Flickr Commons.

Bûche de Noël. Photo courtesy of Caitlin Childs via Flickr Commons.

Let’s travel all the way to Sweden and have a little herring and beet salad. The holidays are a time when we eat everything in front of us. It’s always good to have something healthy. The herring and beet salad consists of beets, berries, peppercorns, apples, and other yummy treats. For something healthy to go with all the holiday food, be sure to check out the great salad recipe books available at the library.

Herring and Beet salad. Photo courtesy of Miia Ranta via Flickr Commons

Herring and Beet salad. Photo courtesy of Miia Ranta via Flickr Commons

We all have great holiday traditions and recipes. For new food, be sure to check out some titles that will be sure to brighten your holidays. We’re going to need all the recipes to get us through Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas. Maybe Paula Deen has some recipes with a Southern twist. If you would like to browse on your own, be sure to go to the UIUC catalog and check out all the great holiday cookbooks we have. What’s your favorite holiday recipe? Share it with us in the comments below!


“tamale.” Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2014. Web. 05 Nov. 2014.

 “dolma.” Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2014. Web. 07 Nov. 2014.








Share this post:
Facebook Twitter Tumblr

Hispanic Heritage Month

Every year, Hispanic Heritage Month is observed here in the United States. It is September 15th through October 15th. Throughout this month, the culture, history, and contributions of Hispanics in the United States is celebrated. Whether it is the history of people from Spain, Mexico, Central & South America, or the Caribbean. So, how did Hispanic Heritage Month come to be?

It began in 1968, when there was a Hispanic Heritage Week. Although it started under the Presidency of Lyndon Johnson, it expanded under President Ronald Reagan in 1988. According to the Government Printing Office, it became a law (Public Law 100-402) in August of 1988. This month is celebrated in many different ways.

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month pic

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. Photo courtesy of Texas A&M University-Commerce Marketing Communications Photography.

Nationally, the Library of Congress has events, exhibitions, and stories. Among the events, a book talk by Carmen Boullosa, who is a Mexican poet, novelist, and playwright. Others who are being honored are author Cindy Trumbore and illustrator Susan L. Roth of Parrots over Puerto Rico.” They will be awarded the 2014 Américas Awards for Children’s and Young Adult Literature. For more information, be sure to visit the Official Page of Hispanic Heritage Month.

Locally, UIUC has a couple of events going on around campus and the community. Among them are:

CLACS (The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies) has organized the 2014 Latin American Film Festival. This Festival began on September 19th and will go all the way through September 25th. Seven films will be showing. The countries and cultures from these films are diverse and showcase that while the countries may be in Latin America, each one has their own unique language/dialect and culture. For the movies and showings, check out the schedule.

There is also a Lecture Series that provides talks and lectures on many different subjects and interests related to Latin America and the Caribbean. Topics such as, “Big Business as Usual: the 2014 World Cup.” For more information, be sure to check out the full schedule.

For more events, La Casa Cultural Latina has a whole schedule for the month. La Casa was part of the Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations’ (OIIR) initiative to the “recruiting and retaining underrepresented students, diversity education, civic engagement, and fostering the leadership skills necessary to develop global citizens.”

Just because Hispanic Heritage Month is just that, for a month, it doesn’t mean that it stops there. The University and Library offer many resources for students of Latino descent, or for those who would like to learn more about Hispanic Culture and/or language. Lucky for you, we compiled a list for you.

UIUC Mi Pueblo: This a Spanish-conversation group. They meet at different parts of campus for 1-hour sessions led by UIUC students. For more information about the sessions. Check out their website.

La Casa Cultural: Founded at UIUC in 1974, La Casa Cultural Latina has been committed to Latino/a students on campus, as well as the community [.

Browse through the Registered Student Organizations (RSO) and pick which ones would be the best for you.  For a complete list of RSO’s, browse a whole list of them.

Don’t forget that your library also has some great resources. Did you know that the International and Area Studies Library has a collection of Latin American books? Not only books, but newspapers and journals as well, so that you can keep up with the news. A lot of them in Spanish!

The Undergraduate Library also has a media collection with many movies and documentaries in Spanish and Portuguese, ranging from many different countries in Latin America. Some examples include, “Diarios de Motocicleta” (The Motorcycle Diaries), “Maria Full of Grace“, and “El Norte” (The North), just to name a few.

The Undergraduate Library’s QB (Question Board), has received questions from students since 1989. There have been many different questions throughout that time. Among them:

“Could you come up with a list of native women writers (novelists) writing at the early part of this century in Mexico? Preferably titles that have been translated into English”

“I was recently in New York, being a salsa person like myself, I went to a salsa nightclub. I heard of a band that was originally from Japan and came to New York to learn Spanish in order to become a salsa group. Their name was Orchestra de la Luz. Can I have some more info please? Signed, Inquiring Minds Want to Know”

“There is a popular song in Spanish called “La Macarena” (I think). There are different versions (2 that I know of). Can you tell me what “La Macarena” refers to and where did the song originate? Thanks. Signed Curiosita”

The above are just a few of the different types of questions that QB receives. To browse, search, or even submit your own question, visit QB!

For more resources that the library has to offer, browse through the subject guide offered.

There are so many things, that even we can’t list all at once in this blog post. We hope that you have found some new activities to take part in and new resources around the library.



Share this post:
Facebook Twitter Tumblr

An Evening of Carnatic Violin Music

Mark your calendars folks, for “An Evening of Carnatic Violin Music.” This event will take place on April 1st, at 5 P.M. in the International and Area Studies Library (IASL). The library will be hosting violinists Dr. M. Lalitha and M. Nandini who will be accompanied by mrindangam player Padmanabha Puthige.

Violin esignage

First things first, what exactly is Carnatic violin music? Carnatic music is mostly associated with South India, usually performed by an ensemble of performers. In this style of music the violin renders the melodic form and the mridangam renders the rhythmic form to the performance. Violinists Dr. M. Lalitha and M. Nandini come from a long line of musicians. Kalaimamani Dr. M. Lalitha and Kalaimamani M. Nandini are the fourth generation of musicians in their family. Music critic Sabbudu has said, “Music runs in their blood, they must have played music even when they were in their mother’s womb.”

Having been called the “Queens of Violin,” they are also known as the “Violin Sisters.” They have “enthralled the audiences with their spell binding music and have been highly acclaimed throughout the world.”  Dr. M Lalitha and M. Nandini are the only female duo in Asia to perform World music, South Indian Classical, Fusion and Western Classical music. Lalitha and Nandini have been recipients of the prestigious Fulbright Fellowship from the United States, and the Charles Wallace Fellowship from the United Kingdom in performing arts.

If the fabulous music isn’t enough, there will also be a reception with free Indian snacks from Aroma Curry House. We think this is going to be a popular event and seating is limited so we recommend arriving a little bit early to secure a good spot.

For more information about the event check out the Facebook invite! The Music and Performing Arts Library has also put together a subject guide to introduce you to this musical style, available here. The subject guide even includes a video of the “Queens of Violin” performing in India, so you can have a taste of what’s to come. We hope to see you on April 1st!

Share this post:
Facebook Twitter Tumblr

Spring is (almost) here: Reader’s Advisory

Unfortunately, there is still frigid weather in the Champaign-Urbana area, but at least we can look forward to springtime warmth and florescence. Let’s hope this cold season comes to a quick end and, in the meantime, we can do a bit of reading to keep our minds off the winter weather. Today’s blog entry is a reader’s advisory for those looking to start a new reading list. It has been a while since I have read books in Spanish or written by Spanish-speaking authors so I decided that it was about time. Here is a list of some good reads that I highly recommend.

 First, is a classic one, “Like Water For Chocolate” by Laura Esquivel.

Like Water for Chocolate

For those not familiar with this classical work, it is about a young girl, Tita who is in love with Pedro. Due to her strict mother and upbringing, Tita cannot act on her feelings and expresses herself through her cooking. Good news, the book and the movie are available through the University of Illinois library catalog!

If you’re looking for a classic one by Isabel Allende, be sure to check out “La Casa de Los Espiritus”. Although originally in Spanish, it is available in the library catalog in both English and Spanish.

La Casa de Los Espiritus

“La Casa de Los Espiritus” is a story of the Trueba family. Their story spans four generations in post-colonial Chile. Isabel Allende’s story and magical surrealism have been critically acclaimed around the world.

For a writer right there in your backyard, be sure to check out Gloria Anzaldua. A native of Texas, Anzaldua writes about Chicano studies and other reflections in “Borderlands.” She has written many other excellent books, so be sure to check them out in the catalog!

Borderlands: La Frontera

Now, while we all enjoy a good book, we also like to sit on the couch and watch a good movie. Does the library offer Spanish-language movies? Of course!

Grab some popcorn and watch “Nosotros Los Pobres“, a classic Mexican film from 1948. The lead actor, Pedro Infante is a classic from Mexican cinema. The first of a trilogy, you are sure to enjoy this classic drama.

nosotros los pobres

Nosotros Los Pobres. Photo courtesy of

A favorite is “Real Women have Curves” with America Ferrera as the lead actress. A coming-of-age story, it is sure to bring back memories of your youth.

real women have curves

Real Women have Curves

The above are just a couple of my favorites and I hope you enjoy them as well.

Share this post:
Facebook Twitter Tumblr

Global Food, Locally: Maize Mexican Restaurant

“Global Food, Locally”  is a series designed to introduce you to the International and Area Studies Library’s new graduate assistants as well local dining options for food from around the world. In our fourth installment, Quetzalli reviews Maize Mexican restaurant, a Champaign-Urbana favorite.

Welcome to the next installment of Global Food, Locally! After having a taste of Korean food, I decided that I wanted to go someplace close to home. No, I didn’t go all the way to Bloomington, Illinois for a home cooked meal. Instead, I decided to check out the famous Maize Mexican restaurant on the corner of Green and First.

Whenever I would inquire about good Mexican restaurants, Maize was always the top mention. I finally gave in and decided to check out the place. Maize is a very small restaurant with barely enough elbowroom, but since I had gone early in the day, there were plenty of seats open. The items available on the menu ranged from chips and tacos to carne asada.

I didn’t want to get the plain and simple carne asada tacos; I wanted to feel at home, so I ordered a dish of flautas. For those who are not familiar with flautas, they are a corn tortilla with filling inside, wrapped up and fried. I had mine with chicken and potatoes served with sour cream, lettuce, cheese and a side of Pico de Gallo and guacamole.


Delicious flautas from Maize.

After I ordered, I sat down at a table near the window and was immediately brought some chips and salsa. The chips were crunchy and the salsa was spicy (as it should be). I only waited about seven minutes for my order and as the order was placed in front of me, my eyes widened, I smiled, and I immediately picked up a flauta and ate it.

I am not sure if I was really hungry or if I was so excited to have some authentic Mexican food, but I cleaned my plate. Since I am definitely planning on coming back, I looked through the menu again in order to plan my next meal at Maize. This time around, I noticed short section about the history of maize (the food, not the restaurant) on the back of the menu.

Thinking about it, I don’t know much about maize. My knowledge is limited and I decided that I wanted to know more about it. I visited the International and Area Studies Library page to see what I could learn about the subject. On the IAS homepage, there is a section titled, “Area Collections and Services.” I clicked on the section for Latin American and Caribbean Studies and it took me to a guide that lists a lot of available resources.

I knew I wanted an online resources, so I went to the “Online Resources for LA&C Studies” page. I checked out the Latin American Open Archives Portal and searched for “Maize and the Maya.” A list of results came up with some interesting findings, including “The Book of Corn” and one that especially caught my interest: “International Corn Recipes.” As a poor graduate student, I can use a variety of recipes centered around one staple food. It’s easy to forget that the Library has a variety of resources, such as cookbooks, that can come in handy for non-academic pursuits.

I would give my visit and meal to Maize a 10/10. I needed food that reminded me of home and I was able to get it there. The atmosphere and the food were amazing. If you’re ever in the area, I would definitely recommend going to Maize. I know that I’ll definitely be going back.

Flautas that have been eaten

The flautas are now gone.


Share this post:
Facebook Twitter Tumblr