Latin-Caribbean cuisine focus of class

BUCKSPORT — Six local cooks recently learned how to enliven their home cooking using the spices and sauces of Latin- Caribbean cuisine.

Through “An Introduction into Latin-Caribbean Cuisine,” instructor Steve Santiago drew from his own culinary heritage to teach students how Cubans, Puerto Ricans and Dominicans turn relatively low-quality cuts of meats into a delicious dishes such as Ropa Rasgata — shredded beef prepared with onions, yellow beans and rice — during the four-week class offered by the Regional School Unit 25 Adult & Community Education Program.

A New York native, Santiago is a retired federal law enforcement officer who moved to Hampden in 2011. As a child, he learned to cook in his mother’s and grandmother’s kitchens rooted in Puerto Rican cuisine. He described the cooking as a mixture of tastes from the Old and New Worlds.

“It’s a combination of tastes brought by the Spanish combined with flavors of the islands’ native inhabitants,” Santiago said. “It’s a taste which is totally unique.”

As part of the hour-and-a-half Tuesday night classes, which wrapped up Feb. 4, participants learned how to prep a chicken and make the most of it in the form of soup and main courses. They also learned how to concoct piña coladas.

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Bill Pearson

Bill Pearson

Former Ellsworth American reporter worked at the Piscataquis Observer for 3.5 years before joining the American. The Corinna native served one term on the SAD 48 Board of Directors.