What to Bring to a Latin Party in NYC

Going to a Latin Party in New York City?
Spanish speaking tips to impress your amigos

After meeting someone from Latin America and being practicing your Spanish with them, you will find yourself invited to a “Fiesta” (Party) or Reunión (meet up) pretty soon. These usually are some small-to-big reunions that pop-up all of a sudden where, for sure, there will be some food, music and booze.

Latin American people are well known for they warmth and festive character and, even if they tell you “Solo llevebuenambiente” referring to you just bringing your best smile and “good vibe”, you naturally would like to show up with something that matches these amiable gestures.
But then you face the anxiety of not knowing what to bring with you. The idea that will come to you immediately is some liquor, and for sure Tequila will navigate the surface of you mind repeatedly trying to convince you that it is the best alternative. Latin American people love liquor from all over the world, and indeed have an appreciation for Tequila, but what if you want to go beyond the first idea that chases you?

To help you with this decision and to achieve the best impression, here are some ideas of food and snacks that you can easily find in New York City:

  • Arepas: you have heard of these for sure, but just in case you haven’t, these are typically from Venezuela and Colombia. Sometimes they call them “Corn Cakes”, but the best way to refer to them is as “Arepas”. They come in different sizes and are made of maize dough or cooked flour. With some exceptions and variations in the recipe, they usually don’t have any particular flavor but the corn itself, which opens the path for creativity to come into the picture. You can add almost anything; from cheese to pepperoni, avocado, tomato, meat, chicken and veggies, to just some butter and salt to have a delicious easy-to-make snack.
  • Cachapas/Arepas de Choclo: these are like the arepas, but the difference is the kind of corn they make them with. They are usually made of a very yellow corn taken directly from the cob. As the regular arepas, they can be combined with some other ingredients, but they are more difficult to mix since their natural flavor is sweet.
  • Empanadas: Other famous option. Empanadas are well known for their versatility, size and taste. They have several variations depending on how they are made and the occasion. Basically, they are fried or baked and stuffed with meat, rice, potatoes, pork, chicken, veggies and more. Grab several of these; ask for some Ají (hot sauce)and you’ll be the king of the party.
  • Chorizos: These are self-explanatory, but cocktail-sized chorizos with some Ají or lime will always be celebrated upon arrival.
  • Tostones/Patacón con hogao: these chips, made of green plantain, come from the Caribbean. They are thin and two-times fried with a little bit of salt on top. You can also add some other fixings, but its common to find them in perfect balance along with Hogao, a sauce made with onion, tomatoes, garlic, cumin and pepper in Colombian cuisine.
  • Aguardiente/Pisco/Cachaça: Yes, if food is not your thing and want to definitely show up with some liquor, try a bottle of Aguardiente. It means “firewater” and is made with fermentation and then distillation from sugarcane. Aguardiente, Pisco and Cachaçaare, in theory, the same kind of liquor but they vary depending on the region and the kind of cane they are made of. Aguardiente is typically found in Colombia, Costa Rica and Ecuador. Pisco, in Peru and Chile; and Cachaça in Brazil.

Pick one, or two, mix them up and try them all. These are a bull’s-eye choice to impress your amigos.

Luis Cardozo

Luis Cardozo is a successful language instructor for executives and busy professionals, and has more than 25 years experience teaching Spanish. In 2002 he launched SpanishNYC, offering customized instruction and translation services. -- Luis has taught group and individual Spanish classes at companies such as NBC, Univision, Nickelodeon, the Miss Universe Organization, The New York Times, Bloomberg, Sprint, Citicorp, JPMorgan, Deloitte & Touche and Pfizer. -- Luis Cardozo has developed his own method for teaching Spanish; the Natural Conversational Approach (NCA). -- With my method, you hear and understand Spanish from the first moment, whatever your level is. I create a relaxed practicing environment, where learning takes place easily and pleasurably. Instruction is totally focused on your specific background, based on the idea that everyone has unique talents, interests, strengths and challenges. -- My techniques allow us to intuit your needs, keep you motivated and insure that your instruction is effective. -- You will absorb the language consciously and unconsciously, just as you did when you learned your native language. -- You, the student, dictate how I should adapt to your way of learning, day by day. -- My main goal is that you enjoy the whole process and have fun learning Spanish.

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