The gastronomy of Latin America is the result of the history of its peoples: a fusion of ethnic, cultural and social elements that make its gastronomic style a mixture of flavors, products, recipes and styles. It is much more than a kitchen, it is a lifestyle that unites families and communities. The truth is that Latin American cuisine has the peculiarity of connecting with the heritage of important regions, which through different techniques and the use of iconic local ingredients that give identity to the cuisine of each country. Today we undertook the task of compiling the 10 most emblematic Latin American dishes, which invite us to learn a little more about the culture of each region.
Finally, food is much more than sustenance: it preserves our cultural identity and connects us with those around us. And it also invites us to learn more about the lifestyle of important regions of great cultural legacy, such is the case of Peru, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Paraguay, Cuba, among others. Learn more about some of its most typical dishes on this culinary journey, which will surely make you salivate.
1. Argentina: Roasts
The word asado is the synonym of food for Argentines and above all beyond being a technique, it is a lifestyle that promotes time with family and friends. By chance in all regions of Argentina, they usually grill fresh meat in the open air; it is one of the most appreciated activities. Although there are different elements that can be considered in a barbecue, some are simply fundamental: grilled meat, sausages and tripe (beef), accompanied by a chimichurri sauce. Argentines usually serve the meat with a garnish of bread, potato salad, celery and lettuce, tomato and onion. The truth is that the barbecue not only represents the camaraderie and closeness that Argentines enjoy, but also shows how important meat is to the country’s gastronomy. Other basic ingredients in a barbecue are: cuts of meat and ribs, sausages, chinchulines (cow guts), lemons, fire (open flames for the best flavor), chimichurri, olive oil (olive oil), vinegar, parsley, oregano, onion, minced garlic, salt, pepper and thyme.
2. Bolivia: Salteñas
Salteñas are a type of Bolivian empanada, which means “Wrapped in bread.” The empanadas generally have a tasty filling that can be made up of various ingredients, in particular the salteñas from Bolivia are special because the filling is more liquid and more like a soup or stew than a normal dry empanada filling. The key ingredient for making salteñas is gelatin, they are characterized by their characteristic vertical shape and a beautiful pinched seam that goes along the top of the semicircle dough instead of on the side. The key ingredients in the preparation of salteñas: fillings are usually made with ingredients such as ground meat and vegetables such as paprika, chili, potatoes, onions, olives, egg, gelatin, peas, cumin, oregano and sugar. Flour, butter and egg yolk are used for the dough.
3. Brazil: Feijoada
Beans are one of the staple foods in Latin America and many countries, the truth is that depending on the region there will be different versions of their preparation. One of the most popular bean dishes is feijoada in Brazil, a delicious stew with meat and beans. Because Brazil is a huge country, there are different versions of the feijoada; While some communities often add a special touch with spicy chorizo, other variations are quite mild. Some elements are basic like rice, collard greens, and dried meatAlthough the most authentic flavor is provided by various parts of the pork. Some of the basic ingredients for its preparation are: Dried black beans, olive oil, pork shoulder, dried minced meat, chorizo, onion, garlic and tomato.
4. Chile: Corn cake
For those who are not very clear about what it is, the corn cake is a succulent meat casserole. Although its peculiar name translates literally as “Corn cake”, This tasty dish reflects influences from both indigenous groups (corn) and European settlers (stuffed with meat). Therefore, A corn cake usually has a corn “crust” and a topping with a fleshy filling called pine. In some places they even add slices of hard-boiled egg or olives to the top of the plate before applying the final corn topping. Before putting it in the oven, it is very usual to add a light layer of sugar. The most common ingredients to prepare corn cake are: ground meat filling with onion, olive oil, garlic, cumin, oregano and for the topping, corn kernels, corn cream, vegetable shortening, basil, raisins, olives, boiled eggs and sugar.
5. Colombia: Paisa tray
The paisa tray is one of the most famous Colombian dishes and it is common to find it in any restaurant. The word paisa refers to the second largest city in Colombia: Medellín, and that is why this source is a traditional dish of this region. One of its main characteristics is that it is a very abundant dish, it contains: a generous serving of beans, rice, sausage, egg, plantains, avocado, and fried pork belly. Of course, this dish is accompanied with the traditional arepas.
6. Costa Rica: Gallo pinto
When you visit Costa Rica, one of the dishes that you will find everywhere and of which you will surely eat a lot is Gallo Pinto. This delicious dish is a Hearty combination of rice, beans, and a traditional seasoning sauce called lizano. A good tip, for those who want to make gallo pinto at home, is to substitute this sauce for Worcestershire, however it will not add the same touch of smoked flavors. Try adding some veggies, like bell peppers and greens, they will make it healthier and more filling. In some places, they often add fried eggs to the plate.
7. Cuba: Old clothes
Yes, you read that right! The national dish of Cuba is the old clothes, which means “Dirty clothes”. This dish is packed with a rich history, dating back to Spain in the Middle Ages, when people used the leftovers from their stews to make old clothes, and when the Spanish conquered Cuba, they brought the dish with them. Since then, Cubans have added their own touch of flavor to this Latin American food. The main components include beef, tomatoes, caramelized onions, bell peppers, and spices. Most of the old clothes dishes use the side of the cow, since it is the meat to be shredded and they also usually add vegetables such as potatoes, celery and carrots.
8. Mexico: Mole
Mole is much more than a very Mexican sauce, it is an ancient dish that has accompanied Mexican cuisine for many years. It is one of his most famous recipes and for some it is a bit wild, since the ingredient list is usually somewhat exotic and intense. However, the end result is a delight that is obtained from the combination of chicken broth, chili peppers and chocolate, it is also characterized by a touch of chocolate, spicy and sweetness, which provides the combination of spices and herbs. Without a doubt, mole outshines any other sauce to accompany many Latin American foods. It is typical to use it to bathe chicken, enchiladas and stewed meats.
9. Panama: Sancocho
Although Panama is close to the equator, stews are still a Latin American staple. Sancocho is another word for stew and that is why there are different versions throughout Panama, the truth is that it is a thick soup-style food that is the most comforting and complete that it contains: chicken, large chunks of corn, and slices of yucca root. It is a staple in family gatherings and celebrations, and a very nutritious and generous meal; ideal to warm up on cold days.
10. Paraguay: Paraguayan soup
The name of this Latin American food can be misleading, especially because the Paraguayan soup is not a soup. In fact, it is a humid cornbread casserole that in the region they usually eat with a stew, chili or roast. To make this cornbread, most of the ingredients are mixed in a pan on the stove, then this mixture is baked and the end result is a kind of moist bread. The ingredients used are: butter, vegetable oil, onion, paprika, corn flour, milk, sugar, cottage cheese, eggs, salt, pepper, baking powder and cheese.
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