NEW YORK -- As we celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, CBS2 is taking a look at some of the food that makes up the rich Hispanic culture.
Chef Maria Bido, who teaches at the cooking class series called La Cocina de Loisaida on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, offers a taste of Puerto Rican cuisine and explains how you can try your hand at cooking some delicious dishes.
The smell, the sizzle and just the right amount of spices -- Bido knows exactly how to mix it all together to make an irresistible slow roasted pork shoulder called pernil, a popular Puerto Rican dish you can now learn how to cook at one of Bido's classes while recognizing and celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month.
At the class, Bido also teaches how to cook arroz con gandules, which is yellow rice with pigeon peas, beans and chorizo.
"Once we cook the meals together, then attendees are able to enjoy the delicious food that they've just cooked, and when the class is over, they receive an email with all of the recipes," Bido said.
Bido is a longtime Lower East Side resident whose passion is put on display in monthly hands-on cooking classes, where she shares family recipes passed down by her grandmother. The class series is run in partnership with the Loisaida Community Center.
"We decided to start La Cocina de Loisaida because we feel that there is a need to teach traditional Puerto Rican recipes to the community ... Puerto Rican recipes are slowly becoming a dying art here in the United States, where people are leaning more towards ordering food out," Bido said.
Now, you have the chance to take part in this class series while learning more about Puerto Rican cuisine. In addition to the pernil and arroz con grandules, you'll learn how to make yuca en mojo de ajo y cebollas, which is yuca in garlic sauce with sautéed onions. You'll leave the class with a full stomach and a greater sense of Puerto Rican culture.
"Food is culture. and food is something that is very important in the Latino community," Bido said.
She said her love for cooking grew from her grandmother.
"I was raised by a single mom and my Puerto Rican grandmother. My mom worked during the day and she went to school at night, and I was home with my grandmother, full of energy, and she was so smart, she decided to give me a giant bowl of garlic to occupy my time," Bido said. "From there, I continued to graduate and slowly received more duties that required a knife or stirring something in the pot, and I ended up loving working with my grandmother and feeding our family."
Bido added this Hispanic Heritage Month is "a time to share our recipes with our friends, to invite people over, to celebrate the community, the culture, the music, and especially the food."
The next cooking class is on Saturday, Sept. 24, at noon at Essex Market. If interested, you can sign up here. For more information on future classes and the series, you can check out the La Cocina de Loisaida website here.
Lindsay Cayne contributed to this report.
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