Moon and Stars Arepas Visits TA for Hispanic Heritage Month
November 15, 2021
TA was excited to welcome Nando from Moon and Stars Arepas to campus last month to teach Spanish 1a, 1b, and Spanish 2 students how to make squash-filled empanadas using ingredients grown at TA. A collaboration between TA’s world language program and the school garden, the event was part of the school’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage month.
For the masa (dough), the classes used the corn grown and dried on campus. The filling was blue hubbard squash, an heirloom plant also grown and cured in the school garden. Nando, Erhin Lingeman (school garden coordinator), and Leah Boch (Spanish faculty and Thetford Outdoor Program Coordinator) prepared the filling. They cooked down the blue hubbard squash, adding herbs grown in the garden, and onions and dried cranberries to bring in some classic New England fall flavors.
They also cooked the maíz (dried corn) with lime as part of the nixtamalization process. Nixtamalization removes the pericarp, the indelible external shell on the maíz, and is a process used throughout Latin America. At school, Spanish students studied the process of nixtamalization and tried their hand at making empanadas: grinding the corn into masa, kneading the dough, pressing the dough using a traditional tortilla press. They scooped fillings, folded and pressed the empanadas, and cooked them in a fryer.
Everyone enjoyed a homemade empanada with ají casera, a homemade hot sauce featuring cilantro and peppers. Later that day at lunch, the entire TA community was able to enjoy Nando’s arepas along with hogao, a traditional Columbian salsa made with green onion and tomatoes, which also featured ingredients from TA’s garden.