Hispanic Heritage Month 2013

In 2013, the 4th Annual Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration coincided with Gail Borden Public Library's celebration of The Big Read. During The Big Read, many community and library activities centered on the themes found in Tim O'Brien's novel The Things They Carried.

Community members were photographed with objects from their cultural heritage that hold a special place in their hearts and which many carried with them as they journeyed to a new home. The photographs, taken by Gil Feliciano, were displayed at the Library during the month. You can see the photos here.

Para ver esta página en español presione aquí.  To view this page in Spanish, click here.


Adriana Carpio de Palma

This is a typical dress from my state of Jalisco, the land of mariachi and most colorful dances.  We have manitained the cultural traditions alive through my daughters’ dancing in Ballet Girasol for many years.



Helen López Strom

The pot belonged to my mother and was given to me when I married. The ingredients make a dish that is my favorite and is now my family’s favorite too: arroz con gandules (rice and pigeon peas.)  Food is one of the ways in which I am passing my heritage on to my children.


Laura Bedolla

My mother's sister gave me this dress when I was 5 years old on my very first visit to Mexico. It was my first time meeting her and my grandparents as well. It  is a reminder that despite the great distance my family always thinks of me.



Dr. José Torres

My hammock brings to mind pictures of times spent  with family, with my grandmother , surrounded by palm trees and mountains.  Relaxing in it, on the roof of my building, is the ideal way to slow down life and think.  Some of those memories and ideas make it into my journals, which I have been writing and keeping for many years.



Tina Birkholz

Just a few weeks ago I discovered my grandmother Hoffman’s recipe collection in my father’s basement.  Those recipes brought together both sides of my family and include lemon freeze bars from my cousins in Monterey.  The teapot was given to my parents by my dad’s grandmother after they were married. 



Patricia Arroyo

My grandmother Elodia Cortés knows how much I love to collect jewelry so she gave me this this jewelry cabinet that she had made for me in México City.  She is now 99 and I don’t see her as often as I would like.  Being able to have this object that I look at and use every day connects me with her.


Carmen Berríos

My flag tells about my country of Colombia through its colors: yellow for gold; blue for the sea, and red for the blood of the heroes who fought for its Independence.



Luciana Feliciano

This ‘dita’, made from the higüera fruit, belonged to my mother.  The Taíno indians of Puerto Rico used them as bowls to eat from.  The wood carving of the “Three Kings’ belonged to my father.  This picture  shows how I remember him.



Verónica Noland

Twenty-four years ago I met my family in Chile for the first time.  I brought this rain stick back, which reminds me of the Andean music typical of the region they are from.  I enjoy listening to it as much as the music.


Cristina Castro

My family shapes who I am.  The photos are of my ancestors, migrant workers who arrived here from Texas as they worked on fields. Their hardships are always on my mind, as are those of others in Elgin today who are experiencing some of their same struggles.  As an elected oficial I try to be a voice for them.


Tara García Mathewson


This ‘cuatro’ is a gift from my grandfather. The song Love Story was my grandfather’s favorite, and I learned it so I could play it for him. My cousin makes ‘cuatros’ in Puerto Rico. 



Betty Martínez


The aroma of coffee smells  like mornings in my country, Colombia.  My mother gave me this coffee cup in 1991.  We have three of them in my family because there are three of us.


Laura Segura

My father brought me this straw bag from Mexico 5 years ago.  It was full of ‘camote’ (sweet potato) candies.    It brings memories of all the fairs my mother used to take us to at which we savored the candies.


Lucy López

Mi mother carried me in this ‘rebozo’ (shawl.)  When I was 12 years old, I carried my little brother in the same ‘rebozo’ while I did the housework.  Today a ‘rebozo’ is like a pretty accessory, but not so long ago it was something useful and necessary to have in the house.


Trinidad Armenta

I carry my faith with me and that means I carry this image of the Virgin of Guadalupe I painted with me.  She is the primary example of my Mexican heritage and the strong faith in our culture.  I am now 86 and started painting at 65.


Tina Viglucci

When my grandfather Segio Muñoz Dieppa and my grandmother Angela Saras Torres moved to a new home, the story goes, the first thing he would do was to hang his painting of Governor Luis Muñoz Marín and she to install her mortar in the kitchen.  Now wherever I go, like ‘mama’,   I take the mortar, redolent of  adobo and home.  


Yesenia Mendoza


The ‘molcajete’ is a cooking utensil that goes back to the indigenous people of Mexico.  My mother gave me this one.  The green blouse is from the state of Cuernavaca, the ‘City of Eternal Spring.” It was a gift from my sister-in-law.



Estefanía Romero


Corn is widely grown in the mountain range north of Puebla.  My grandparents used to say that before harvesting the corn they had to pray asking the earth for permission to pick it.


Ivonne Callejas

I identify with objects from my country because they represent my culture and traditions.  The clay pot is for making beans and the ‘molcajete’ (mortar) is for making the best salsas.


Claudia Díaz

The serpent is representative of our origins.  I treasure images such as this one, which which are proof of the ability and creativity of the indigenous artisans of Mexico.



Saul Díaz

The Mexican Revolution was about change from oppression.  It reminds me that we should never stop fighting for our rights and our liberty.


Others shared recipes from their cultural heritage, sometimes passed down from generation to generation, in a “Recipes we Carry Swap.” Participants wrote their recipes in a recipe card which was then posted to a board on display at the Library.

The Recipes We Carried
Aztec Soup.JPG

Receta para: Sopa Azteca/Aztec Soup
El país/ región de origen de esta receta es: México
Si esta es una receta de familia indica quién te la dio:  Yvonne Callejas

3 tazas de caldo de pollo
3 hojas frescas de epazote
sal (a su gusto)
3 tomates pequeños
1 chile pasilla (sin semillas)
1 chile ancho (sin semillas)
¼ cebolla
3 dientes de ajo
un pellizco de orégano
pimienta negra (a su gusto)

Coloque los chiles y los tomates en una olla y llénela hasta la mitad con agua.
Cocine en fuego medio hasta que los tomates se abran.
Añada el aceite a un sartén y cocine el ajo y la cebolla picada hasta que estén suaves. Cole los tomates y colóquelos en la licuadora junto con los chiles, el ajo  y la cebolla. Añada orégano, pimienta, y totopos. Caliente una cacerola y añada la mezcla de la licuadora (colada). Cocine por 15 minutos, agregue el caldo de pollo y el epazote, cubra y deje sentar por 15 minutos. Añada sal a su gusto. Acompañe la sopa con aguacates, crema, y  totopos.

Columbian Chicken Sancocho.JPG

Receta para: Sancocho Colombiano de Pollo/Colombian Chicek Sancocho
El país/ región de origen de esta receta es: Colombia
Si esta es una receta de familia indica quien te la dio:  Terry Gordon

3 espigas de maíz fresco (cada una cortada en 3)
12 tazas de agua
1/2 taza de salsa de ají picante
1 pollo entero
1 cucharada de sal
2 plátanos verdes cortados transversalmente en 2
2 cubos de pollo bouillon
6 papas blancas peladas y cortadas a la mitad
1 libra de yuca hervida y cortada en trozos
1/4 taza de cilantro picado
1/4 cucharada de pimienta molida

Direcciones: Coloque el pollo en una olla grande junto con el maíz,
la salsa, pollo bouillon, sal y pimienta y plátanos verdes.Añada el agua y 
deje hervir. Luego cubra la olla y baje a fuego mediano. Deje cocer durante 30-35 minutos. 
Agregue la papa, yuca, y pimienta y continúe a cocinar por 30 minutos más o hasta 
que la yuca y la papa se ablanden. 
Agregue el cilantro y pruebe para ajustar los condimentos a su gusto 
Columbian Hot Sauce.JPG

Receta para: Colombian Hot Sauce / Ají Picante)
El país/ región de origen de esta receta es: Colombia
Si esta es una receta de familia indica quien te la dio:  Terry Gordon


1 semilla de pimiento rojo pequeño habanero
1/2 taza de vinagre rojo
1/2 taza de agua
1/4 cucharadita de sal
1 cucharadita de azúcar
1 cucharada de jugo de limón
2 cucharadas de aceite de vegetal
1/2 cilantro fresco picado
1/4 taza de perejil fresco picado
1/2 taza de cebollín picado
1/2 taza de tomate picado

Ponga el vinagre, el agua y chile habanero en una licuadora durante 2 min. 
Coloque los ingredientes restantes en un tazón y mezcle.
Agregue el vinagre y la mezcla de habanero al tazón y mezcle bien. 
Puede ser refrigerada hasta diez días.
Frojoles a la Charra.JPG

Recipe for: Frijoles a la Charra/ Charro beans
The country/region of origin of this recipe is: Mexico, Moterrey
If this recipe was passed down to you indicate by whom: My mother (Claudia Díaz)


1 kg of beans
Red huaje tomato
Cooked bacon
Cooked sausage 
Boil the beans, when they are done you will add the rest of the ingredients so 
they can all boil together. 
The sausages, the bacon, the onion, and the chile, and 
the tomato are browned together, then added to the beans.
Mixiotes con Arroz Blanco.JPG

Recipe for: Mixiotes with White Rice
The country/region of origin of this recipe is:
If this recipe was passed down to you indicate by whom: My mother

Chicken legs
Guajillo chile
Bay leaves


Grind the guajillo chile and strain in aluminum foil.
Place one chicken leg with the chile and one piece of carrot, potato,
and one bay leaf. These are then
steam cooked and they are accompanied with white rice.

Mole Oaxaqueno.JPG

Recipe for:  Mole Oaxaqueño / Oaxacan Mole (Gethsemani E. Feria)
The country/region of origin of this recipe is: Mexico, Oaxaca coast
If this recipe was passed down to you indicate by whom: n/a

Guajillo Chile
Sesame seeds
Animal Crackers
Roast the chiles and put them in water to soak. Saute the tomato, onion, 
garlic, almonds, pepper, oregano, cloves, sesame seeds, bananas and raisins. 
Next you want to grind the chile and season it so that you can 
add it to the rest of the sauteed ingredients. 
Then, you are going to add the chocolate and thicken 
it with the animal crackers. Add salt to taste.
Pipian Rojo.JPG

Recipe for: Pipian Rojo/Red Pipian (Laura Segura)
The country/region of origin of this recipe is: Mexico
If this recipe was passed down to you indicate by whom: My grandmother

Chile de Arbol
Peanut butter
3 Tomatoes
3 Garlic cloves


Roast the chile, tomatoes, and garlic.
Then, boil the chicken. Once the chile, tomatoes,
and garlic have been roasted, blend them in a blender
along with the peanut butter.
In a pan, roast all the ingredients together.
After this, you will want to boil the liquid,
add the chicken and enjoy!


Recipe for: Polvorones / Shortbread Wedding Cookies
The country/region of origin of this recipe is: Puerto Rico
If this recipe was passed down to you indicate by whom: Titi Carmelita

3 cups of flour
1/8 tsp of salt
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of vegetable shortening
1 beaten egg yolk
1 egg white
1 tbsp butter
Mix the flour with the salt.  Beat the vegetable shortening 
until it is not too thick and then slowly add sugar. Add the egg yolk, 
the whites and the butter and mix well. Add the flour to the shortening and 
stir so that they combine well. Make small balls and place on platter, then 
press thumb down to squish down a little. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
Rice with Pigeon Peas.JPG

El país/región de origen de esta receta es: Puerto Rico
Si esta es una receta de familia indica quien te la dio:  Madre de Helen Strom


aceite de oliva de calidad
1/4 taza de cebolla roja picada
1/4 taza de pimiento rojo picado
1 lata de gandules drenados
1-2 dientes de ajo
cilantro picado (al gusto )
sal y pimienta (al gusto )
1 lata de salsa de tomate
1 1/2 tazas de arroz blanco
1/3 – 1/2 taza de aceitunas manzanilla sin hueso
3 3/4 taza de agua


En una cacerola eche suficiente aceite de oliva para cubrir el fondo. 
Caliente a fuego medio. Sofría las cebollas y los pimientos 
durante 5 minutos y agregue el cilantro , la sal y la pimienta.
Cocinar unos minutos más y  eche la salsa, aceitunas y arroz a la cazuela. 
Revuelva para cubrir el arroz. Suba el fuego durante 1-2 minutos y eche el 
agua sobre la mezcla. Revuelva una vez más cuando hierva y luego cúbralo. 
Cocine a fuego lento durante 15 minutos. 
Destape la cacerola y dele vuelta con un tenedor y cubrir de nuevo 
por otros 15 minutos hasta que se seque el arroz.
Tortas Ghogadas.JPG

Recipe for: Tortas Ahogadas/Drowned Sanwiches (Adriana Carpio)

The country/region of origin of this recipe is: Guadalajara, Mexico

If this recipe was passed down to you indicate by whom: n/a

Baguette or Bread Rolls
Carnitas (pork meat)
Fried beans
Tomato sauce
Chile de Arbol Sauce
Sliced red onion 
Open the baguette or bread roll in half. 
Spread the fried beans on the inside surface of the bread. 
Next, fill the bread with Carnitas and close the bread. 
Pick up the baguette with some tongs and submerge it in the tomato sauce. 
Then, submerge the baguette into the Chile de Arbol sauce for a spicy flavor.
 Finally, spread the onion slices on top of the baguette, 
and pour some more sauce on the completed torta. 

A special thanks is given to photographer Gil Feliciano for his assistance with this project. Original copyright of all photos is retained by Gil Feliciano.