Latin America Food and Evolution
Latin America is comprised of countries that were at one point dominated and colonized by Portugal and Spain. Just like any region within a continent, countries in Latin America have their own culture with its unique food or cuisine, adding to the diversity of this collection of countries so frequently lumped together. This article will explore some of the food in Latin America.
Misconceptions about Latin American and Hispanic culture
One of the misconceptions I often encounter is that “Latin American” or “Hispanic” are denominators that mean “Spanish.” However, only things and people that come from Spain are Spanish. You must understand that there is nothing “Spanish” about a Mexican taquería, an Ecuadorian restaurant or a Chilean person.
The second misconception is that those who speak Spanish eat enchiladas and tacos. These foods originate from Mexico. Most of the regions in Latin America don’t have them, especially those in South America. Central Americans and Mexicans do use tortillas frequently as a base for a dish. “Tortilla” in Spain actually means an omelet or similar variation.
Certain kinds of foods or garnishes such as salsas and tamales are found in most regions. However, they differ, depending on what is locally found. Take beans, for example. Beans and rice is an essential dish in most countries in Latin America but prepared differently in every country. In Peru, you will find white beans and fava. In Cuba, slow-cooked black beans; in Puerto Rico, pigeon peas; in Mexico, pinto beans; etc.
Now you see that each country in Latin America has a distinct culinary tradition, which is based on local ingredients and influenced by Spanish colonial food. The cuisine from each Latin American country is loaded with different mixtures of spices and fresh produce found in the area. Here are some of the best dishes and areas where you can enjoy each one.
Pão de Queijo
This dish is a high-class export delight, which pleases all penchants and is gluten-free. It originates from Brazil, and the preparation process is as simple as opening the door. The food is prepared from sour cassava flour with generous quantities of tasty cheese. It is a common breakfast food and snack for locals in Brazil, and it can trace it’s origin to African slaves brought to the area. They would peel and soak the root of the cassava before making bread rolls with it. A dish will keep you salivating for more.
Soft or crunchy, they may look messy but are so worth it. Traditionally from Mexico, they are made of wheat or corn tortillas rolled or folded around various fillings. These may be seafood, chicken, cheese, vegetables, pork, or beef. You can eat a taco without utensils, and most times it will be garnished with chili pepper, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, coriander, and guacamole or avocado. Yum!
This special food is all you need to fall in love with Argentina. It is considered one of the four native foods that best define it. The Alfajor is a traditional sweet, made with two soft and powdery cookies, which sandwich a thick layer of caramel (dulce de leche). This meal is a national treasure. You can eat this in the morning with tea or coffee. You can also eat it during lunch and dinner. Any time is a good time to eat alfajores. Right now, you can try it.
This delicious dish is among the spiciest in the region. With an eclectic mixture of international cultures, which settle within the Peruvian area, ceviche is a blend of flavors. If you ever visit Peru and don’t have it, then you did not visit the country at all. Ceviche is made of smoked and spiced seafood – fish, shrimp, mussels, squid, clams. Consider complementing it with sweet potatoes, corn, or plantains – You will never taste anything like it.
Indeed, Latin America is filled with a different blend of foods, which transcend national boundaries but are never as good as when prepared in native lands. These are just a few examples of the many dishes that are unique to each country of the region.