latinasypunto

Do Latinos Picnic?

In culture, Food on September 12, 2010 at 10:57 pm

Have you ever had a picnic? I’m talking about a true picnic – with a blanket, a few sandwiches, maybe a bottle of wine, perhaps some dip with crackers, prosciutto and cheese? The reason I ask is because as I was riding my bike up the Riverside Park in NYC (a long park that hugs the Hudson River) I could see the difference between Riverside Park South and Riverside Park North.

In Riverside Park South you see a lot of white people, laying in their blankets, others roller blade while others walk their dogs. If they are hungry they either pull it from their picnic baskets or order it from the nearby food stand where a burger and fries goes for $10.

Then all of a sudden a few miles up everything changes…the aromas and ambiance are completely different. The minute I can smell grilled meat I know I have entered Riverside Park North. Wow, what a difference. “Lloraras” by Oscar De Leon is playing on one side, while mangoes with salt and lemon and fried empanadas are being sold in a cart on another side. You don’t see groups of 3 or 4 people; with Hispanics 10 to 15 is about right. But most importantly everyone has a grill.

Hispanics at Riverside Park North

And that’s when I ask myself, “Do the majority of Hispanics actually have picnics?” I’m talking about picnics without a grill? Is it even an option to go to a park and not have meat or chorizo or chicken?

The more I think about it, the more I realize that growing up in Miami the only reason I ever went to a park was to have a BBQ to celebrate a birthday, a holiday or to get together with family and friends…otherwise we could just get together at home. Perhaps the only time my parents didn’t have a BBQ is when we were at the beach, that’s when it was completely reasonable to have sandwiches, snacks and sodas.  So it doesn’t come as a surprise when a Mintel report confirms that Hispanics, 65% of them, are significantly more likely than any other ethnicity to use charcoal grills, especially when it comes to a variety of outdoor activities.

It’s always fun to go on bike rides and be able see blatant cultural differences like this one. But what makes me even happier is that I can relate to both. Personally, I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying picnics while listening to the symphony at Central Park or while enjoying a beautiful New York City day with my husband; just the two of us having great conversation while lying on a blanket and staring at the sky.  On the other hand, I can immediately relate to the tumultuous amount of family and friends gathered around a grill while dancing to salsa or merengue tunes I’ve grown up with. And while these are two completely different worlds it’s great to know that I can choose when I want to celebrate either of the two experiences and that I have a place in NYC to enjoy them both.

So do you picnic, barbecue, or do both?

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  1. […] And that’s when I ask myself, “Do the majority of Hispanics actually have picnics?” I’m talking about picnics without a grill? Is it even an option to go to a park and not have meat or chorizo or chicken? (click here to continue reading the rest of the article) […]

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