In 2021, Christian Lopez started Humo Latin American Inspired Cuisine as a small catering business and pop-up restaurant.
Lopez is a first generation Colombian American who grew up in Orlando, and remained tied to his Colombian heritage both through his family as well as the Florida city’s diverse population and ever-present Latinx culture.
He attended culinary school with aspirations of becoming a chef, but instead pursued a career as a math teacher. However, Lopez could not deny his love of the kitchen and sharing Latin cuisine. After eight years of teaching, Lopez started Humo Cuisine pop-ups as a side business.
Humo is a Spanish word that translates to smoke in English, and it reflects Christian’s favored cooking method. Humo Cuisine aspires to share the diverse dishes of the Latin American diaspora, from Colombian to Mexican cuisines.
Lopez’s featured dish is canesta de plátano, and it is a fan favorite from Humo. The Caribbean Latin diaspora of Orlando and Lopez’s Colombian heritage inspired the canesta de plátano. This dish starts with a pernil, a slow-roasted, marinated pork leg or shoulder originating in Latin America and traditionally eaten for family gatherings or around the holidays. Lopez wanted his version of pernil to reflect a deep love of barbeque and the personal food culture surrounding his childhood.
“I smoke my pernil with all the seasoning and guiso passed down from my grandmother,” Lopez says.
Guiso translates to stew, and refers to the process of first frying or roasting followed by braising, which is used for some traditional Latin American meat-based dishes. Pernil is often served with tostones or patacones. Tostones are twice-fried green plantains flattened into discs. “(The discs) make it difficult to eat,” says Lopez. “That is where I began to search for other ways of serving it and came across the canasta de plátano. It is the perfect vessel for my smoked pernil.”
Canasta translates to basket, referring to the shape of the friend plantains, which perfectly hold the smoked pernil or mushrooms. Lopez then tops the canasta with pickled onion and jicama and often accompanies the dish with esquites (Mexican street corn) and couve à mineira (Brazilian collard green).
This dish, like others served by Humo, reflects the diversity of Latin American cuisine.
Punk Foodie offers this weekly column about Punk Food, a moniker for a cuisine without defining or distinctive ingredients, techniques and dishes which is being born out of the increasing infusion of the diverse cultures and experiences that live in our city. Find out where Humo is popping up next and go deeper via Punk Foodie’s weekly guides and pop-up calendar.