If you were to take a food tour of Latin America, it’s a safe bet that actually completing it would mean never going home again such is the diversity and history of this part of the culinary world.
Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru
The sea, the highlands and the jungle are what mostly defines the cuisines of these countries. Typical of the Valle del Cauca region of Colombia and the Afro-Colombian culture is the ‘Valluna’; a cutlet of pork or also beef or chicken with a milanesa, commonly served with rice, sliced tomatoes, onions, chopped fried plantains.
The sierra, or highlands which includes parts of Colombia and Peru, where potatoes, rice and meats are prominent in many kitchens; and the Amazon, rich with rainforest-friendly fruits and vegetables, such as coconut, mango, avocado and guava. Chicken Soup includes plentiful potatoes and root vegetables and is served with a classic salsa, known as aji though Colombia’s cuisine can vary greatly and draws much of it’s influence from the indigenous Chibcha followed by Spanish, African, Arab and even some Asian cuisines. Colombia’s coffee is known for its quality and distinct flavor and is a whole other section for another time.
A hearty pulled beef dish known as Pabellon Criollois found in Venezuela and is a stew of sorts, where the beef is cooked in a broth until the meat is falling apart. Locals pair the tender meat with simple white rice and black beans. A stew of striped bass and shrimp awaits you in Ecuador referred to as Chupe de Corvina y Camarones. Throughout South America, thick round corn cakes, arepas, are a staple in many households and restaurants.
With a diverse population that includes Native Indians, Portuguese, Spaniards, Africans, Italians, Germans, Lebanese and Japanese, Brazil’s cuisine would be one of the hardest to pin down but generally it falls into four geographic regions:
The northern section of Brazil around the Amazon you’ll have the choice of dishes containing fish, yams, nuts and tropical fruits. A signature dish in this part of the world is Vatapá, a soup of seafood, coconut milk and nuts. This is also where a large proportion of the world’s sugar is grown thus giving the world Cachaça, a brandy made from sugar cane.
The central west and the Pantanal wetlands, local cooks rely on an ample supple of fish and game, while Brazil’s industrial heart is in the southeast, where plentiful beans, pork and corn are produced and is the traditional home of This southeast is also home to the classic comfort food Feijoada, Brazil’s de facto national dish.
Internationally, Brazil is best known for churrasco, the southern region’s cowboy or gaucho cuisine. Churrascarias (steak houses) are a meat lover’s paradise and a cornerstone of local culture.
Argentina and Uruguay
Italy, Spain, France and other European countries form a significant part of Argentina and Uruguay with strong historic, culinary connections. Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capial city there are international foods galore, but a common local favorite is the Potato Fritta with Chorizo, or fried potatoes with a spicy sausage.
Argentina, like Brazil, is one of Latin America’s largest beef producers. Steak with Chimichurri and Matambre, a rolled flank steak stuffed with vegetables, herbs and eggs — are considered classic dishes and are just two examples of the area’s many beef-based delicacies. Uruguayan barbecue, or asado, is also some of region’s tastiest.
Chile, Boliva and Paraguay
A combination of traditional native foods (especially seafood) and Germanic and Italian are typical of Chilean cuisine. Other examples are the Cazuela, a hearty meat stew, or Pastel de Chocio, which is similar to shepherd’s pie.
The cooking styles of Bolivia and Paraguay take a unique twist, blending meats and poultry with fresh fruit and vegetables. Full of flavour though spices are not common while many recipes are naturally sweet and creamy thanks to corn and yuca. Local dishes considered as ‘must-try’ include fried yuca and a variety of empanadas and Locro, a soup often made with chicken, rice and a variety of root vegetables is a Bolivian classic. Paraguay has a similar cuisine with minor neighbourhood variations. Chipa, a bread made from yucca flour and mild white cheese, is a Paraguayan staple.
Caribbean: Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Cuba”]
Spain and Africa have played the biggest part in this regions palate which like most of Latin America differs depending on the what is in most abundance however celebration is a major factor and food festivieties abound here. Throughout these areas you’ll find variations on savory dishes such as Mofongo, a mashed fried plantain dish made with garlic and pork rind, and Mondongo, a tripe stew. The Cuban classic, Ropa Vieja, a delicious and tender stewed beef, is prepared throughout these islands.
Two of the core elements to cooking here are sofrito, a mixture of sautéed garlic, onions, peppers and tomatoes that’s used as a base for soups, stews and rice dishes, and recaito, a green version made with cilantro. Then there are Cuban Sandwiches, Black Bean Soup, Arroz con Leche (rice pudding), Tostones (fried plantains), and much more.