Open Letter to HUDS Latinx Dinner
I would like to start by acknowledging the hard work and dedication that is needed to provide thousands of Harvard students with food every day. My impromptu Spanish chats with the Latine staff always make me grin from ear to ear (btw no shade to them — I get it; they’re just following the recipes given to them). On the other hand, your attempts to serve cultural food…
As a Mexican-American student who constantly yearns for the comforting flavors of my mother’s kitchen, the mention of a special dinner in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month filled me with anticipation and hope. The menu promised tempting options: Chicken in Mole Verde, Chicharrones, Stuffed Poblano Peppers, Shrimp Ceviche, and churros. I envisioned this meal as a potential highlight of my Harvard dining experience, even worth sharing in the family group chat. Little did I know, pictures would indeed be sent to the family group chat, but for entirely different reasons...
Let's begin with the presentation. Upon stepping into the dining hall, my initial glimpse of the Chicken Mole Verde was disheartening — enough that my friends and I all turned to look at each other in disbelief. What should have been a rich, complex sauce composed of over a dozen ingredients had been diluted beyond recognition.Next in line was the Stuffed Poblano Peppers, which appeared promising and momentarily reignited my hopes.
However, the evening took a downward spiral when I encountered the most egregious offense of the night: Chicharrones with fries. The shock and denial I was facing was too real; I blinked, shook my head, and blinked some more. I couldn’t believe it: bacon mixed into french fries and you called it a night. Once I had shaken my head a couple of times, I was able to move on to the Shrimp Ceviche, which looked okay. The lettuce threw me off a bit, but I was hopeful. Last but not least, let’s not forget the dessert section, where the churros and tres leche cake looked ready to steal the show.
As for the taste, the Chicken Mole Verde was okay: it definitely wasn’t Mole Verde, but it wasn’t a crime against taste buds. Perhaps a renaming to Chicken in Green Salsa would be more appropriate. The Stuffed Poblano Peppers were good; that cotija cheese was putting in some serious overtime. Now, let’s address the so-called “Chicharrones” with fries – the “Chicharrones” was bacon, which tasted, well, like bacon. You could have slapped on some cheese and declared them the most American thing since apple pie: loaded bacon and cheese fries. The Shrimp Ceviche, unfortunately, was playing a game of hide-and-seek with the key ingredient, lime. It managed to be passable, but oh, what could have been?
But now, let’s celebrate the true hero of the night: the churros. Out of this disappointing dinner emerged one shining star. The customization was phenomenal; you could add sugar and cinnamon, chocolate or caramel syrup and pair them with vanilla ice cream scoops (or Lactaid ice cream for us lactose intolerant girlies). I’d even go as far as to say that these churros should be headlining every meal.
In conclusion, dear HUDS, while your valiant efforts to feed Harvard students deserve a round of applause, there’s room for improvement in the Latinx cuisine department. I can’t believe students left dinner tonight thinking they were eating mole — it just isn’t right. Let’s give these dishes the authenticity and respect they deserve because they’re more than just food – they’re the heartbeat of a vibrant, diverse culture. P.S. To all: Remember to celebrate this month by listening to the voices of the Latine community on campus because “Latindad” is truly diverse and not a monolith. Here’s to hoping that churros stay around and that next year’s dinner can always strive to be better. For now, I’ll have to rely on the conversations with HUDS workers and the Latine community to get a sense of home.
Yours in taste bud turmoil,