Article by Lisa Duong
Mixed-race weddings give the opportunity to have the best of both cultures, or present the challenge of trying to plan your catering around pleasing guests with different expectations. I was planning a Chinese – Spanish wedding when the talk of food came about. It’s no secret that Chinese people love food. As do the Spanish. Well, that’s a good start. But what can be served that will please a diverse crowd? And on a budget of course. Here’s what we decided to do:
Feed the Crowd
Skip the small mound of roast beef present at many buffets and have a chef (or culinary-adept friend) serve portions from an impressive whole hog instead. Chinese roast pork, or Lechon as the Spanish know it, is an entire pig, rubbed with spices and marinade, then roasted to perfection. The tender meat with extra crispy skin is mouth-wateringly delicious. There are differences in the rubs and marinades used in Chinese roast pork versus the Spanish version, but both result in extremely tasty, melt-in-your-mouth morsels of juicy, crunchy meat. Entire hogs can be ordered through Chinese BBQ houses (there’s usually at least one in every Chinatown), or in the BBQ section of a larger Chinese supermarket. For the Spanish version, “lechon asado” can be cooked DIY-style, using “la caja china,” a large roasting box that can be rented or purchased online, where recipes for marinade and side dishes are plentiful as well. Regardless which roast pork is chosen, simply add in some economical sides of yucca, beans, rice, or salad, and the bulk of a very filling buffet is taken care of for only $10 – $15 per person.
Round out the meal selections with store-bought Spanish guava cookies, meringue cookies or Chinese baked goods, like egg tarts, mini coconut cocktail buns or coconut tarts for dessert. The use of coconut and sweet breads is prevalent in both Spanish and Chinese culture, so any treats along these lines should be welcomed by most guests.
What’s even more traditional than a wedding cake? For a Chinese-Spanish wedding, perhaps a cookie tower made of Spanish wedding cookies and Chinese “wife” cookies (“loh-poh-bang” in Cantonese) can be a fun way of incorporating both cultures. The Spanish wedding cookie tradition came about in the 16th century, while the Chinese “wife” cookies date back to the days of Imperial China. This tower of cookies can be built on a simple tray, or a fancier cake stand. Add some fresh fruits, berries, leaves, or ribbon depending on the décor theme, and it makes a quick and easy alternative to the costly wedding cake. Those who prefer to have a cake to cut into can use a cupcake stand for the cookie display and add a small 6” cake on the top tier.
Regardless of what foods are served in a mixed-raced wedding, the opportunity to hold an event that brings together two cultures is always a good time.