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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Nulvin Jimenez is a business owner and an immigrant. She moved from Venezuela to the United States years ago to live her American dream.

Her restaurant, Tu Casa Latin Food, opened more than four years ago and offers some of the tastiest and most popular dishes in Latin American cuisine.

Jimenez moved from New York to Indiana more than 20 years ago in search of better living conditions. She started selling food out of her own kitchen and now, with her family’s help, she opened this restaurant.

“I just love that we’re able to bring this to our community, and I just love how diverse we are,” said Jimenez’s son, Jose Castillo-Jimenez.

Castillo-Jimenez says sometimes he’s in the kitchen or he’s serving food, but it’s the time he gets to spend with his mom that he cherishes the most.

“It’s a special bond that we can share together because life gets busy. We grow up and … we do our own lives, but this kind of just brings us back together,” he said.

The restaurant offers food from places like Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Colombia, but it’s a plate of food called El Pabellon, from Venezuela, that’s his favorite.

“You can put the sauce of the shredded beef. The shred of beef has this great stewed tomato sauce on it with peppers, and the shredded beef is cooked for a couple of hours and it’s like steamed and then they cook it,” said

“It’s the beef, meat with mofongo. The platanos — they’re so delicious. Me being a Mexican, I really recommend the Dominican food,” Felipe Flores, an Indianapolis resident, said.

“If you have a dream out there — if you’re Latino, if you’re Hispanic, however you identify — just go for it. Nothing is impossible,” Castillo-Jimenez said.

Jimenez says she hopes to expand her business in the future.

Tu Casa Latin Food is located at 2989 W. 71st St. in Indianapolis.

Hispanic Heritage Month: Carniceria Guanajuato offers Mexican flavors

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — In business for more than 10 years, grocery store and restaurant Carniceria Guanajuato strives to mimic what you would see in Mexico, from produce to meat and even snacks and spices.

“Everything we do it is thinking about where we come from. We try to do exactly the same,” said Lucerro Parra, manager of the store on the northwest side.

Parra told News 8 the store gets fresh fruits and vegetables from Mexico every week.

While they specialize in Mexican cuisine, they carry unique items from other countries as well.

“I really think that it is cool to have all of this because it makes us feel like home,” Parra said.

One of their most unique sections in the store is the meat.

“Mexican chorizo, Mexican sausage, wow, very good. The steak and chicken, very good I like it very much,” said one man who often shops at the store.

“They come to try the food, first of all, because they want to taste the authentic Mexican taste,” Parra said.

The restaurant is a hidden gem in the back corner of the grocery store, but it provides a flavor that many say you can’t find anywhere else.

“The food is great, the service is always good, and it is kind of off the beaten path,” says one customer.

“I think they appeal to a lot of different audiences. There is something here that I think everyone would like to have to eat,” says another customer.

News 8 will be celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month through Oct.15 with special segments airing every Tuesday at 6 p.m.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — A grandmother’s love found in a nickname — Sonia que soña. Which means Sonia who dreams. And, dream she did while staying true to her roots.

“I’m first-generation Mexican American on my mom’s side and second-generation on my father’s side,” said Sonia Gutierrez, the first Latina city council member in Fayetteville.

This trailblazer was sworn into the Fayetteville City Council on January 2019. The University Of Arkansas graduate first ran for council in 2014 but didn’t get enough support. Yet, it didn’t stop her from making history. When asked if she’s always had her eyes set on local government, she laughing says “No.”

Her lack of interest in government was due to a lack of representation. “Growing up, I really didn’t see anybody like me in these types of roles,” said Gutierrez. So, she changed that for future generations. The interest began after getting to know city officials through her two graphic design businesses, Easel and 501C3.

“Everyone was all about helping people and building community and that spoke really to my heart,” said Gutierrez, “All of us need to be heard.”

After working with council members, she decided to become one. “It’s an honor. I really take it seriously and with great responsibility enjoy the hard work that it does take to do it,” said Gutierrez.

A lesson she passes on to her students. She’s also a teacher at Northwest Arkansas Community College to help the Latino community further flourish in Northwest Arkansas which is a region incredibly different from when she first arrived from Central Arkansas in 1992. “I don’t feel by myself in my culture, in the things that I’m buying and the flavors and the colors,” said Gutierrez.

Speaking of flavors, she’s adding a bit of hers to the social scene. “I just recently launched my DJ career,” laughs Gutierrez.

That’s right, she’s also DJ SQS. “My brother reminded me, you gotta go with the name grandma called you. Sonia que soña. So for short, it’s SQS,” she laughs. Playing everything from Latin to 70s and pop tracks to add some fun to her busy schedule.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s a Hispanic Heritage Month celebration through song and dance. Baile Folklorico translated to folkloric dance brings Mexico’s history to life with each step.

In Austin, Roy Lozano’s Ballet Folklorico de Texas has been doing this for nearly 40 years.

“The culture, the traditions, the music — that’s exactly what represents Ballet Folklorico,” Jesús Antonio Chacón, or Chuy, the artistic director at the dance company said.

Chacón teaches more than just a dance.

“It’s preserving our folklore, it’s preserving our culture, it’s preserving our roots,” he said. He’s been passing on his ancestors’ stories for decades. “You never finish learning about baile folklorico from Mexico,” he said.

From Guanajuato, Michoacan and Chihuahua to Veracruz, Sonora, Yucatán and Jalisco — Chacón says there is a dance for every state and every town.

Chacón explains what each dance means to each state. (KXAN Photo/Candy Rodriguez)

“You go to Jalisco we have La Negra and Jarabe Tapatio, Veracruz La Bamba, Chiapas Las Chiapanecas, Nuevo León El Potrillo,” he listed. “You name it every state has one specific song that represents the state.”

Many of the dances trace back decades — even centuries — uniting modern-day Mexico with its past.

“Back then there wasn’t a specific God, there was the Sun, the Fire, Earth, and how those elements combine to become a dance and that’s when the Concheros did the dance to their God — that’s how everything is related to now what we do,” Chacón explained.

Chacón looks through his storage for costumes. (KXAN Photo/Candy Rodriguez)

With every dance, there’s a costume.

“I probably have over four or five thousand costumes,” he said, glancing across his storage room at the rows of dresses, rebozos, tocados and paliacates.

It’s a collection nearly 40 years in the making. From lace and leather to vibrant fabrics with flowers, butterflies and neon colors — they all represent a story and history.

“I will never forget this quote ‘If the wealth of a country is measured by the costumes, the music, the food and the traditions, Mexico will be the richest country on Earth.’ because we have so much to offer. So much,” Chacón smiled.

Chacón sits for an interview inside his costume closet and storage room. (KXAN Photo/Candy Rodriguez)

At Roy Lozano’s, dancers from ages five to 53 take the stage. All of the dancers representing a piece of their heritage.

“It sparks the curiosity of wanting to know more, of wanting to learn more and wanting to dig deeper into the culture,” Jorge Badillo, a dancer said.

“It connects all of our roots whether we are first, second, third or zero generation Mexican-American,” added Diolanda Lovings.

Chacón is proud to say the group carries on the tradition from generation to generation.

“That’s what makes me very proud to be a part of this world of the Ballet Folklorico from Mexico because we have so much to offer,” Chacón said.

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) – A quinceañera is a celebration symbolizing a girl’s transition from girlhood to womanhood when she turns 15. Director Fanny Veliz Grande’s recently released documentary “Our Quinceañera” is a film that honors that part of the Hispanic Heritage.

The documentary shares the story of a high school principal hosting yearly quinceañeras for students who can’t afford them in a Texas border town. The whole community bands together; dresses are donated, the church cooks the meals, and local kids DJ the party.

“Quiñceaneras are very important to the Mexican culture and all the other Latino cultures, and you get to see how these American girls get to be American but also celebrate their Heritage. The whole family comes together, and it’s a really magical moment,” director Fanny Veliz Grande says.

Filmed in San Benito, Texas, “Our Quinceañera” was a winner at the 2019 Bentonville Film Festival.

Members of Generation X may know Raúl Juliá for his energetic and playful role as Gomez Addams in the 1991 movie adaptation of “The Addams Family.” Others may think of Juliá in his critically acclaimed role in the 1985 “Kiss of the Spider Woman” as revolutionary Valentin Arregui.

But to actors like Edward James Olmos, Rita Moreno, Andy Garcia, John Leguizamo, and Benicio del Toro, the man many of them knew as Raulito served as a mentor, an advocate and a groundbreaker who paved the way to success for a generation of Latino performers.

The influential Puerto Rican actor, who opened doors for a generation of Latino artists in film and television from the 1970s through the 1990s, is the subject of a new PBS documentary.

“Raúl Juliá: The World’s a Stage” looks into the actor’s life from his middle-class upbringing in Puerto Rico to the streets of New York as he attempted to break into theater. Using rare footage of Juliá and interviews of Latino actors who credit him for opening doors, the film explores his fight to battle stereotypes and garner respect as a performer. Juliá died in 1994 at the age of 54 due to complications from a stroke.

The documentary includes footage of Juliá performing Shakespeare with a young Meryl Streep while defiantly interpreting The Bard’s words in a Puerto Rican accent. James Earl Jones speaks about the awe he felt watching Juliá depict the outcast Edmund in “King Lear.” Del Toro would later recall being blown away by Juliá in the musical “Nine,” a work based on Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini’s semi-autobiographical film “8½.”

In each of his roles, Juliá was attempting to redefine what it meant to be Hispanic in the United States, a nation that has long ignored Latinos or regulated them to subservient roles in movies and in life, said Ben DeJesus, the documentary’s director.

“He meant so much to so many people,” DeJesus said. “In many ways, he was way before his time.”

Juliá, it would turn out, used his trailblazing status to help other young actors of color and bring attention to social issues like world hunger and Puerto Rican independence.

In other words, DeJesus said Juliá was “woke” before woke was a word and an easy concept to push via hashtags on social media.

“There is a great ignorance in this country about what a Hispanic person is. Period,” Juliá said in one interview.

During his time on Broadway and in film, Juliá stood in contrast to the darker artistic world of Nuyorican performers like Miguel Piñero who crafted images of sexual violence, drug addiction and poverty.

His surviving sons and widow, Merel Poloway, remember Juliá as a devoted father.

Del Toro would say he kept trying to achieve his dream to become an actor because of Juliá and all the rejections he endured decades before.

The film, a co-presentation of American Masters and VOCES, is slated to premiere Friday on most PBS stations.

(KXRM) – In Southern Colorado, Hispanic heritage is diverse and rich in traditions. One element that is keeping those traditions alive through generations is the rare Pueblo Chile.

The Pueblo Chile dates back to 1910 in the Oaxaca region of Mexico and has made its way into Southern Colorado, where it has embodied itself as an everyday way of life.

It is grown in the quaint town of Rocky Ford, just 57 miles East of Pueblo, Colorado. When the weather is warm, Southern Colorado locals and visitors can find the Pueblo Chile at markets throughout Colorado.
Dr. Michael Bartolo, the man who instituted the Pueblo Chile, first discovered it upon finding a bag of seeds his uncle left after passing.
Bartolo then decided to plant the seeds, and after several years, in 1994, the chile began to take on a life of its own.

It’s spicy nature, and unique taste has allowed many cultures to come together as one in an everyday form – cooking. Today, it is a staple in culinary traditions and continues to be a proud connection for every Southern Coloradan.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR) — Democratic congresswoman Verinoca Escobar is one of the first two Latina women to represent the state of Texas in Congress. She’s a third-generation “fronteriza” – or woman of the border and a representative for Texas’s 16th congressional district.

“As a Mexican-American woman in a community that is deeply connected to our heritage to our roots, to our language, to our history. I think that makes an impact,” Escobar said.

Escobar is nearing the end of her first year on Capitol Hill. She was part of a group in 2018 that included a record number of females and minorities serving in Washington, D.C. “As you add people of color, as you add the LGBTQ community, then you see lawmaking that is far more reflective of the diversity of the country,” Escobar said.

As a native of El Paso, she works hard to share her experiences along the U.S. border with Mexico. “The immigrants we see are moms with babies, parents, fathers, children. These are not national security threats,” she added.

Escobar has found herself in the national spotlight following the mass shooting in her hometown where a gunman killed 22 people. She’s taken on the issue of gun violence. She recently labeled the lack of urgency on gun control “baffling” to voters in El Paso. She said she heard the same question over and over from constituents: “Why haven’t we done something to stop this? Why hasn’t the Senate majority leader felt our pain?”

Despite being a newcomer, Escobar serves on the important Armed Services and Judiciary committees. She’s earning the respect of her party in the middle of the nation’s immigration crisis.

(KRQE) – Just taking one look around New Mexico, you can see the influence that Spanish architecture still has today. Arriving between the 1300 & 1400’s, architecture experts say it not only provides beauty, but versatility in a time before modern technology.

Although it’s been modified for the area with influence from local pueblos, from flat roofs to vigas… to even tiles on roofs, it’s still more prominent than ever.

“I feel that you see it, even around the city and some cities more than others,” said Francisco Uvina with the UNM Architecture Department. “…also the indigenous influence and even the Mexican influence as well as being so close to Mexico and having that connection of this Royal Road, this Camino Real Adentro, also brought with it and also took south a lot of these cultural ideas.”

Of course, that was not the original intention of the early Spanish settlers. Instead, it’s reflecting the designs from Spain and Mexico that not only provided functionality for every day living, but innovative ways to conserve energy in a time when it didn’t even exist.

“You see it’s a very traditional Earth roof, flat roofs, modest materials using the vigas, using the beams for the main structural elements, fairly thick walls, very good when it comes to thermal qualities when it comes to this type of arid, hot climate,” said Uvina. “The portales, the interior courtyards which is actually form micro climates as well to keep cool, so they adapted.”

The spread of that influence reached farther than New Mexico and the Southwest, that’s thanks to the Santa Fe Railroad and the Fred Harvey hotels and train stations being built along the way.

“A lot of the buildings that he constructed were built with that regional flavor which would probably be a Spanish Pueblo revival,” added Uvina. “…some of them could be considered mission style, especially the 1920’s.”

Still, the Spanish, Baroque-Pueblo style didn’t come without problems.

“Not all the buildings were built appropriately and it happens even today,” said Uvina. “If you maintain, especially the Earth buildings and we’re not just talking about the what the Spanish or the Europeans brought, but also in even some of the pueblos. Nowadays, that if there is a lack of maintenance and care, buildings will probably wear, even the modern intervention such as plasters or concretes or modern built up roofs that might hold moisture and that’s detrimental for the modern buildings.”

However, in some instances, there is a role of a caretaker, or mayordomo in Spanish, who maintains the upkeep on the smaller community Spanish churches.

BAKERSFIELD, CA (KGET) – Hispanic Heritage Month is the perfect opportunity to explore the diversity of Hispanic cuisine. Here in the United States, we are most familiar with Mexican food, although Mexican cuisine is only a small taste of what Hispanic recipes offer the world.

Latin communities are united by one language. But individual customs, traditions, ethnic dialects, and especially food, brings out the unique charm of each country.

Like most Latin American menus, Salvadoran dishes are centered around corn, and one of the country’s most notable dishes is the pupusa. It is corn tortilla stuffed with beans, cheese, and pork.

It is important to note one thing with Salvadoran cuisine, “We don’t do spicy food,” says Dina Garcia, owner of Su Casita Salvadoran restaurant in Bakersfield, CA. Salvadoran meals tend to be milder.

“We still use the ingredients of our ancestors, of the Pipil and Lenca,” said Garcia. “You can taste all the ingredients. It is not spicy.” Cassava root, pork, and plantains are a staple in their kitchen. “We use plantains a lot,” says Garcia. “We use it toasted, fried, we eat it with cream or beans, we use it a lot for the typical dishes of El Salvador.”

The Carribean palette is on the other end of the spectrum.

“A lot of spices, a lot of garlic,” that’s how Victor Casas, owner of Mama Roomba Cuban restaurant, describes Cuban food. “It’s a combination of African-American and Latin American food. A lot of rice, beans, and pork.”

Seafood dishes are also popular in Cuba. A Cuban restaurant staple is ropa vieja: stewed beef – shredded pulled with vegetables. This is one of Cuba’s national dishes. And just like with Salvadoran cuisine, you won’t find many chile peppers here.

Mexican food has made its mark in the U.S. for centuries. You have the basics; tacos, tortilla chips, and burritos. But, deep in the heart of Mexican cuisine history reveals an abundant, tasty story.

“The culture of Mexico is so broad,” said Josue Sanchez, owner of Nuestro Mexico Mexican restaurant. “It goes back thousands of years. We’re talking about Aztecs, Toltecs, and Mayans.”

Each region cooks up its own flavors. “If you go to the south, in Yucatan and Merida, achiote [is common] for sure,” said Sanchez. “If you go to the coast, I would say salt and lemon because they cook a lot of ceviches. If you go to the north [you’ll find] many salsas with spices and a lot of meat. If we talk about the center of Mexico, it becomes a very delicate, gourmet cuisine.”

Standard Mexican foods tend to deliver some heat which makes it unique among Hispanic cuisine. “You cannot think of Mexican food without chiles, without spices, without salsas, without oregano without cilantro,” said Sanchez. “It would not be Mexican food at all.”

Culinary classics from different cultures vary from country to country, community to community, with enough distinctive flavors to enjoy an extraordinary feast during Hispanic Heritage Month.