Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Des Moines, Iowa… Corn and Pigs? Not Anymore!

Posted · 36 Comments

Thanks to Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 for another great opportunity and allowing me to showcase Des Moines, Iowa’s rich culture and diversity!

Before I start on my post, I want to take you back to my childhood, a place called California!  My sisters and I were raised in beautiful Southern California.  We moved around and finally set roots in Rancho Cucamonga.  My mother as most of my readers know is from Sevilla, Spain.  At the time, California was the perfect place for my mother to settle in the United States.  To live in California, you don’t need to speak English.  Latino’s, mostly Mexican, make up the majority of the population.  It was a place where she could slowly learn the American culture while still being able to communicate with people.

Fast forward to 1995 and a complete shock to my entire family as we were told that my father’s job was placing us to a distant land, called Des Moines, Iowa.  I was 16 years old.  It was the the middle of my junior year in high school. I was involved in soccer and band and remember vividly the day my Papi broke the news.  Papi picked me up from soccer practice and asked me, “What do you think about Iowa?”  I laughed and replied, “What do you mean, what do I think about Iowa?  Isn’t that where they grow potatoes?”  He looked at me and said, “I”m sorry mija, that’s where we’re moving.”  I cried on the way home.

When we first drove into Iowa in February of 1995, it was cold… no, freezing!  We were able to witness our first snow.  As exciting as that was, feelings of isolation also started to set in.  After being immersed in diversity our entire lives, it was a feeling of being… different.  It was difficult as we weren’t able to find tortilla’s, chorizo, or evoo that we were used to. I can remember my mother and I feeling wandering eyes as we spoke Spanish.  I think for my mom, it became a reality that she now had to learn to speak English.

As my family spent year after year getting accustomed to Iowa and all that it had to offer, something was happening.  Something was changing.  That something was diversity, culture, food, and people.

My family has lived in Iowa for fourteen years and I can now say that Des Moines is one of the most rich, diverse, and accepting communities in the nation.  I am proud to live in Des Moines and so happy to call it home.  Within the 14 years that we have lived here, Latinos now make up the largest ethnic population.  We are also filled with the beautiful cultures of people from Europe, Sudan, Bosnia, Asia, India and other Arabic countries.  Our metropolis of just over 500,000 people has many ethnic markets such as Mexican, Asian, Indian, African and European.  All offering specialty foods of meats, sausages, spices and pastries.  With these changes and the increase in cultures comes food and festival celebrations!  Our small metro is home to the largest Latino festival in the midwest!

Iowa’s Latino Heritage festival!  This festival is now in it’s 7th year and year after year grows larger as people from all over the midwest come to celebrate 21 different countries.  This festival is about showcasing the differences within the Latino community and sharing how our cultures also enrich the communities in which we currently live.  What better way to do this, than to do as Latinos do best, eat, dance and be LOUD!  CARAZA style baby, yeah!!

Come celebrate with me as I take you through Iowa’s Latino Heritage Festival!

The festival is always started with a parade of countries holding their flags

I can listen to the sound of Mariachi’s for hours!



Besides, the great dancing and cultural exhibits, my favorite part about the festival is of course the FOOD!!


Horchata, a rice water drink!  I can drink this by the gallon!




El Salvadorean Pupusas


Pineapple and Orange Water Drinks


With all this good food, Nehemiah still opted for a corndog, lol!


I can’t remember what this El Salvadorean food was called, but it was RICO!


Chorizo mixed with potatoes topped with lettuce, cheese, crema and salsa!

Taco/Burrito Spread


What I don’t have pictured is the evening dance where thousands gather for a true night of Latino heritage and pride!  I am so proud to be Latina.  To have cultures within me from different sides of the world.  50% Mexican… 50% Spanish… 100% Latina!


Iowa… Corn and Pigs?  Not Anymore!

36 Responses to "Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Des Moines, Iowa… Corn and Pigs? Not Anymore!"
  1. Joan Nova says:

    I really enjoyed reading this post and how you transitioned from the California culture you knew as a child to the Iowa culture you now embrace. The world is getting smaller and I, for one, think it's a good thing. Somos unidos!

    P.S. Good job on photography the fiesta.

  2. Simply Life says:

    Wow, I love your story and am so happy to hear how content you are where you live now and how much you truly appreciate it! Great photos!

  3. Andrea@WellnessNotes says:

    Thanks for sharing a bit of your story. I can only imagine what it was like to move from California to Iowa fourteen years ago. Thanks also for sharing all the great festival photos; they are amazing…

  4. Miranda says:

    This is a beautiful post. I loved your story and pictures.

    I can relate in a way. I lived in a farm town in OH all my life. The population of 500 ppl. Now, my husband moved us to Orlando, FL. It has been three yrs. I have grown to love and appreciate it more and more with every yr.

  5. bella says:

    Diana, I enjoyed reading your story about moving from California to Iowa! Growing up in Ames, Iowa in the 1960's – 1970's was similar for me….my family was the only Italian family in town; there was one Mexican family, one Asian family, and a few Jewish families. I was very different as a dark brown haired, dark brown eyed and olive skinned girl….BUT, I was also special because of that. Latin girls/women are quite stunners you know! I did not have many dates, but lost of wish-I-could-date-you, BUT….you're Italian and you know….your dad must be part of the mob….no matter, it was a great family state with a superb, top notch (better than California) education system. Then I moved to Los Angeles! What a shock! I found it to be so materialistic and unfriendly with concrete block walls between every house. My 3 years in L.A. were the most unhappy of my life because of the lack of values I grew up with. It was a beautiful state, yet L.A. was so dirty and smoggy and way too much into Hollywood and money. I love humble, quiet little Iowa and am proud to call it my homestate! Blessings, Roz

  6. bella says:

    Diana, In finishing my comment, I now live in South Carolina where again there are very few Italians….many Hispanics, but not Italians. I am much more accepted in today's times as an Italian, but where I'm a minority that is highly judged, is that I'm a very faithful Roman Catholic (Christian). SC is the 3rd LEAST Catholic state in the USA. I love living and demonstrating my faith every day in my life in a state that misunderstandings Christ's church and I know that I am helping to change those misconceptions. More blessings, Roz

  7. Chow and Chatter says:

    wow Diana this is your best post ever love it, your a great blogger and offer so much I moved to Scotland as a teenager, its a hard time to move, will tweet love ya Rebecca

  8. Cedar City Arnold Fam says:

    Hey cousin, Those early pictures are totally how I remember your family!! Give them my love! It's funny, I don't remember your mom having trouble with english. She was always the best!! That seems like such a cool festival. When I first moved to here they actuall referred to me as Seans cute little dark wife!!!Great pictures!!

  9. Belinda @Zomppa says:

    Thank you for sharing this lovely story – I love learning more about you and your beautiful family!

  10. alison says:

    a very beautiful post,i admired everything word and picture!from romania,alison,another latin,too…

  11. Miriam says:

    Lovely story, Diana. And very interesting post!

  12. penny aka jeroxie says:

    Thanks for sharing a little of your life. And such a lovely spread of different foods and many happy people. It is hard to move to a new place but always made easier when the people are warm, friendly and have an open heart.

  13. Jessie says:

    I really enjoyed reading your post, I'm also Latina, Puerto Rican to be a exact :) In a way I can relate because you and I are very proud of our heritage. The festival reminds me of the Hispanic festivals we have here in NYC where there are so many different dishes to try out and enjoy. Once again I really loved your post! :)

  14. Erica says:

    Wow! Diana I love this post….I truly enjoyed reading about your life.

  15. Divina Pe says:

    Wow, that's a very festive festival. Full of life and culture. The photos are just stunning and the foods are tempting. It's truly a familiar affair. Thanks for sharing that.

  16. 5 Star Foodie says:

    Thank you for sharing your story of transitioning from California to Iowa. What a great festival, the food looks excellent and your pictures are just gorgeous!

  17. My Little Space says:

    Such a heart warming story, Diana! Thank you so much for sharing it and I love all about it very much. Send love & kisses to your family. And the festival is so interesting! By the way, do you know how to make that traditional dance? he he….Cheers.

  18. Lumi says:

    Wonderful post, Diana. I'm so happy your family found such a great home in Iowa!

  19. raquel of Cafe Nilson says:

    what a beautiful post! and those pictures are just fantastic! thank you for sharing your story.


  20. The Duo Dishes says:

    It's nice to be able to bounce around to see so many different cultures in different parts of the country/world. Of course, food is always part of that. The chorizo and potato looks really good. :)

  21. Krissy @ The Food Addicts says:

    Wow, looks like a fun festival! I can't imagine going from Southern California to Iowa! That must have been a 180 for you!

  22. Nate-n-Annie says:

    Hello, fellow "24"er!

    Congratulations on being chosen to showcase the festival in Des Moines. The food looks so delicious, especially that el pastor rotisserie with the pineapple on top.

    To what do you attribute the increasing diversity of Des Moines? Nearby schools, the availability of jobs…?

  23. Hummingbird Appetite says:

    I love cultural festivals. The main reason I go is because of the food!

  24. stephchows says:

    what a great event!! Everything looks so vibrant and delicious!

  25. Jen (Tiny Urban Kitchen) says:

    What a great post and wonderful photography. I love the photo of the yellow dress and dancing feet. :) Those churros also look SOOO good, and those cool yellow fruits (mangos?) on a stick look cool too. Thanks so much for sharing a bit of culture with us and also putting in a plug for the Midwest (heh, I'm from Ohio and people often confuse it with Iowa because they sort of sounds the same). :) Cheers, and congrats on being chosen for 24, 24, 24!

  26. Tasty Eats At Home says:

    Oh what a fun festival! Those churros and the cochinita pibil, yum! Everything looks yummy.

  27. Diana Bauman says:

    Thank you so much for the wonderful comments! I can see that each of us has our own story and so much relates to our own cultures and learning to enjoy and appreciate others! God is so amazing!

    Joan – "Somos Unidos!" Un beso amiga!

    Simply Life and Andrea – Thank you!

    Miranda – So happy to hear you are enjoying Florida and all it has to offer 😉

    Roz – Beautiful story and yes, Latina's are sexy mamas, lol!!

    Rebecca – Thanks honey!!

    Karen – Love you cousin!

    Belinda – Thanks for visiting, I need to stop by your place 😉

    Alison – Thanks for stopping by!! Romania, a beautiful Latin heritage!

    Miriam and Jeroxie – Thanks!

    Jessie – I had no idea you were Puerto Riquena! Un abrazo fuerte!

    Erica, Divina Pe, Natasha, Kristy – Thank you!!

    Lumi, Raquel, Duo, Krissy – Thank you!

    Nate n Annie – Thanks for visiting!! Jobs have brought alot of Latino's to Iowa. We have many factories such as Tyson. Also, Iowa has been a key state in accepting refugees. We have a huge community of Sudanese and Bosnians because of this. Des Moines is also the insurance capitol of our nation. Large Insurance companies such as Principal, Wells Fargo, and ING have internal diversity groups that make a huge effort to attract professionals of different ethnicities, Latino, Asian, African American, Arabs, to our state. We have an amazing community!

    Jenn, Steph, Jenn, Alta – Thanks girls!

  28. bella says:

    Diana, I have a blogging friend from Brazil that I am going to refer your blog to. She is another beautiful Christian and great cook too, with wonderful and interesting blog posts. I hope she makes contact with you. Blessings from the South to you in Iowa! Roz

  29. girlichef says:

    AWESOME!!!!! What an amazing post 😀 Gorgeous photos and I felt like I was there…or wished I was. We call those Pambasos!

  30. Sarah says:

    What a great post! I am an Iowan myself and I adore this place. I need to make it down to that festival next time. It looks really fun with amazing food!

  31. Lisa Orgler says:

    Thanks for sharing such a fabulous story! I live near Des Moines and its so nice to hear wonderful things.

  32. Arabic Bites says:

    Beautiful pictures, beautiful city. Makes me want to come & visit my uncle who live in Iowa for the last 30 years.

  33. pityenlacocina says:

    hola diana! i have just found your blog and is already in my favourite list, glad to know that ou enjoy spanish and mexican food, my favourite, of course i am a spanish! this photos looks so amazing i love love loooove mariachis, i find them so sexy! i will come back to your site, i love it! viva mexico y españa y ole!

    besitos desde londres,


  34. Ruth says:

    What a great post and Im so happy to have caught up with it! Love the way you wrote it, so full of passion! True latin blood :)

  35. Damaris says:

    these pictures are so vibrant. I live in california now but am originally from Brazil. I had no idea there were Brazilians in Iowa, woah!

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