Expo Comida Latina brings all the flavor of Latino cuisine to San Diego

By Pablo Jaime Sáinz

Chef LaLa

    Latino food, especially Mexican food, is good business.

    Just in California, each year the Latino food and beverage industry represents sales of $4.3 billion, according to ProMéxico, a Mexican government agency that promotes investment in Mexico and the exportation of Mexican products.

    It is estimated that sales of Latino food in the United States will be more than $7 billion in 2011, according to organizers of Expo Comida Latina 2011, which will take place at the San Diego Convention Center from Sunday August 28 through Tuesday the 30th.

    When one thinks of Latino food, one might think tacos, burritos, typical taco shop menu. But as Expo Comida Latina shows, Latino food goes beyond that: It shows the diversity that exists in Latino cuisine.

    “Expo Comida Latina is about food and beverage, from ingredients to prepared meals, influenced by the many Latin countries and cultures from around the globe (Mexico, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Peru and many more),” said Liz Plizga, show director for the expo.

    For popular Chef LaLa, who appears on different English and Spanish television shows to promote Latino food, Expo Comida Latina also proves that Latino food, from its roots, is very healthy.

    “We use a lot of vegetables,” said Chef LaLa, who will be at the expo everyday making live recipe demonstrations and promoting her new line of salsas, “Chef LaLa Homemade”.

    She is one of the biggest promoters of healthy Latino food, to try to reduce and prevent the effects that diabetes, heart disease, kidney failure, and other diseases, have among Latinos.

    “There are healthier ways to prepare our traditional foods,” she said, citing pozole, where instead of pork, chicken can be used.

    Expo Comida Latina was founded in 2002 and has been held annually in Los Angeles. This year the organizers are trying to expand the expo bringing it to San Diego as they did in 2009.

    The expo is open only to representatives of the food industry. The event is not open to the general public. It includes food companies of various Latin American countries including Mexico, Brazil, and Peru.

    More than 70 percent of U.S. households consume products of traditional ethnic food and drink, according Plizga. And of that total, 62 percent buy Mexican and Latino products.

    For the Consul General of Mexico in San Diego, Remedios Gomez Arnau, this event further confirms the popularity of Mexican food in America.

    ”The words salsa, guacamole and quesadilla find a way into the daily lexicon of Americans,” said Gómez Arnau in 2009, when there was a Mexican pavilion in the Expo.

    Expo Comida Latina 2011 will be held at the San Diego Convention Center from Sunday 28 to Tuesday 30 of August. Hours are Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm, Monday from 11 am to 5 pm, and Tuesday from 11 am to 4 pm.

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