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Cheesy Tequeños on New Year’s Eve

tequeños. jpg 1 Cheesy Tequeños on New Years Eve

Cuban culture celebrates the end of the year and welcomes the new with a big ultra loud party full of friends, visiting family, vintage Cuban music intermixed with modern vibes, a gluttonous amount of classic Cuban food, and dancing. It’s pretty epic. It’s always fun, but we don’t always realize how exhausting it all was until we all muster getting up at the crack of dawn on January 1st, eager to start on the right path. 

As much as I cook and commit my life to the culinary history and culture of most of Latin America, I’m sadly not 100% familiar with how each country celebrates their new beginnings. I do know for certain most of us default to serving 12 uvas to eat at the strike of midnight, each representing the 12 months of the year. And then we walk around the neighborhood with pots and pans, banging them loudly  as a way to noise out the mess from the  year. It’s so much fun. My favorite is to walk around the block with a suitcase, magically inviting a good year for travel.  My passport was stamped over 10 times this year and that excites me to see what 2014 has in store. I’m already booking flights and accepting gigs! More sights, more food, more traditions to become familiar with. 

But, in my exploration with Sargento Cheese of Peru and all their rich history in food and ingredients which have made their way to American tables, I thought it’d be appropriate to get to know how they celebrate the New Year. I reached out to my sweet NY-based Peruvian friends who blog about Peruvian food! Duh! What a light bulb moment. Morena of the Peru Delights shed some light on how her people celebrate new beginnings. 

It’s currently summer in Peru and they relish in sunny days at the beach! Unlike us here in the States, where most of us are cuddled by the fireplace, sipping on hot chocolate, families there are vacationing on the beach, soaking up the sun. While digging toes into warm sand, parties are underway, filled with lots of food and drink, and literally dancing until dawn. Can you imagine?! An all night beach party?! While I prefer a chilly night bundled up in my mother’s hand knit scarves, a night lit by a wood stick fire, enjoying the ebb and flow created by the moon sounds inviting. So sexy. 

If not at the beach, families gather at home, much like we do for Nochebuena — a big feast of traditional foods — lending itself to a tiring morning after hours of festiando. 

While of all of Latin America celebrates with a delicious spread, usually consisting of similar Thanksgiving dishes and even leftovers from Christmas Eve, I was intrigued with Peru’s tradition of eating tequeños filled with cheese. These little wonton finger snacks, usually served before dinner and accompanied with creamy guac as a side dip, are a staple at not just NYE, but any party. They’re like crispy cheese poppers! Morena excitedly explains that the texture and taste changes depending on the cheese. I’m thinking if they’re anything I envision, I’d love filling with Sargento‘s cheese string snacks. They’d melt so perfectly.  Or a mix of the snacks with their shredded pepper jack. Oh, yes! Dipped in guac? I’m all for it. 
 
tequeños. jpg 2 Cheesy Tequeños on New Years Eve
 
Unfortunately, I learned of these tantalizing looking little rolls too late to practice in time to make for tomorrow’s fiesta at my brother’s house, but they’re in the menu box for making really soon. And like Morena suggested, they’re becoming more and more Peruvian styled with stuffings like lomo saltado and aji de gallina.
 
Other foods seen at the table tomorrow night could likely be fried yucca and cocktail potatoes with huancaina sauce, which I’ve made here as part of my intense exploration. Most have cheese, some don’t, but all are amazing and linear with their ancient old culture of divine foods. As for me, I’ll be plating a  lovely platter of those 12 grapes with a splendid but diminishing stash of Sargento Cheese I have begging to be snacked on! 
 
Check out my friend’s blog for the tequeña recipe and other fun Peruvian dishes! And happy new year
 
* This post is part of my continued exploration of Peruvian food and culture with Sargento Cheese as a tastemaker and recipe developer. All opinions and stories are authentic and my own.  See more of my recipes and explorations here!
 
These pictures are courtesy of Peru Delights. 

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By Bren
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