Hundreds get a taste of Hispanic cuisine and culture at the Latino Food Festival

The Latino Food Festival drew hundreds of people from miles around to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland on Saturday, September 10.

The festival, held inside and outside of cathedral’s guild hall, featured a wide variety of Central and South American dishes such as burritos, carne asada, empanadas, and pupusas, the latter being so popular that the line for them consistently stretched the length of the parking lot.

“We have a lot of countries represented -- Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala -- so you’re going to see everything from tacos from Mexico, where I am right now, to tres leches cakes,” said Eduardo Anurez, the son of one of the organizers. “Everybody brought their home recipes to this event, so you’ll be tasting a lot of home recipes that have been in families for a long time.”

Proceeds from the festival will benefit Sacred Heart / St. Dominic Parish, home to the Latino community in the greater Portland area. In past years, the festival was held at Sacred Heart, but this year, it relocated to the cathedral because there is more available parking.

“It’s a different location this year, so maybe that has to do with it, but it’s definitely the most people we’ve seen,” said Anurez. “It’s definitely great to see a lot people coming out today.”

“There were so many people, more than before,” said Siomara German, originally from the Dominican Republic, who cooked several dishes for the festival.  “We hope next year to have even more people!”

Those who cooked or served at the festival, as well as those who came to enjoy the food and atmosphere, came from many area communities, some of them two or more hours away.

“I think we have people from Cherryfield and Bangor and also Pittsfield, all the communities where we are present as a Hispanic ministry – Sanford, Lewiston – all those places,” said José Pérez Lopéz, an outreach coordinator for the Diocese of Portland’s Office of Hispanic Ministry. “It is important for the Latino community because this is a way where we can come together. It is really important, not only as a Latino community but as different countries. We all speak Spanish, but we have different types of traditions, different types of food, so it’s really important for us to have this event.”

“This is a good time to bring the Hispanics in Maine together and spend time together and to share the delicious food and have a good time,” said Jesus Aguilar, who is originally from Mexico and traveled from Windham to attend the festival.

“It’s amazing. It just brings the community together, and it has a great feel of home,” said Reina Ayala, a Biddeford resident who is originally from El Salvador. “I think it should be held more often.”

“It’s very good, looking at the different people and the flavors of the different countries,” said Renes Montes de Oca, who is originally from Cuba but now lives in Biddeford. “It helps with the unity of the people.”

“I think it brings people together around a common love of food and culture. I think it’s a great way to invite the community into a lot of joy,” said Abrey Feliccia, pastoral life coordinator for the Portland Peninsula & Island Parishes, which include both the cathedral and Sacred Heart.

Along with the many great dishes that were being served, those who attended were also treated to traditional music and dancing.


Cooking at the Latino Food Festival
Cooking at the Latino Food Festival
Jose and Female cook