When we think of Latin American food– it’s impossible to choose a single plate that represents all of the countries and their flavors. The gastronomy of this region is full of native foods, it’s prepared using a variety of colors and, of course, tons of flavor. For this blog post, we wanted to take you on a gastronomic tour of 5 Latin American countries and discuss some of their most famous dishes.
Food and Culture
If you ask a Latino what he associates food with, he’ll likely respond with four words: family, friends, celebration and love. This what food represents for the Latin American community. Food also represents an opportunity for friends and family to come together to commiserate and enjoy a meal.
Perhaps this is why many of this region’s dishes are so comforting.
Today, it seems like Latin American food is everywhere thanks to the strong global presence of the Latino community. If you were concerned that you’d need to travel to taste authentic Latin American cuisine, there’s no need to fret. There’s a good chance that if you take some time to investigate the food options within your city, you’ll find a few amazing options.
Onto the main course!
Now, we move on to the tastiest part. For this post, the team at EFOODTRAINER has chosen to highlight 5 Latin American countries and their most famous foods.
Typical dishes of Mexico:
1. Tacos: Tacos consist of corn tortillas stuffed with meat (such as chicken, pork or beef), tomato, onion and cilantro. The general idea is that you fill it to your liking. Everything is okay to include!
2. Guacamole: Guacamole is a cold avocado-based sauce that’s made with onion, salt, garlic, cumin, cayenne pepper, jalapeno, cilantro, and lime juice. If you want it spicy, you can swap the jalapeno for a serrano chili.
3. Tamales: Tamales are balls of corn dough that are typically stuffed with chicken, beef or pork. Tamales are often wrapped in corn husks.
4. Mole: Mole is a thick, rich, chocolatey sauce that’s used to prepare many Mexican dishes, although it’s most commonly paired with chicken or beef. The preparation varies depending on the region, but it’s typically made with different types of chili peppers and spices.
5. Enchiladas: Enchiladas are prepared by stuffing lightly-fried corn tortillas with chicken, pork, beef, or cheese. They are often topped with chili sauce (or mole). Most Mexicans serve enchiladas with a dollop of sour cream.
Typical dishes of Puerto Rico:
Dish: Mofongo Photo: Christina House / For the Times
1. Mofongo: Mofongo is one of the most famous dishes in Puerto Rico. It consists of a fried banana that’s stuffed with chicken, meat or seafood.
2. Rice and beans: Rice and beans consists of white rice accompanied by beans that are slow cooked over low heat. It’s often prepared by mothers and grandmothers, and despite being a simple recipe, it’s absolutely delicious.
3. Steak with onions: Steak with onions is made with beef that’s cooked over low heat. When it’s done, the steak is topped with heaps of golden juicy onions. This dish is usually eaten with salad and rice.
4. Tostones: Tostones are made using green banana slices that have been flattened and fried until crisp. They are eaten as if they are small toasts, and they’re often paired with sauces or cheese.
5. Tembleque: Tembleque is also known as coconut flan. Each family prepares it differently, but most add sugar, vanilla and a touch of ground cinnamon. This dish is commonly prepared for the December holidays.
Typical food of Dominican Republic:
Dish: Bandera Photo: www.republicadominicana.es
1. Flag: Flag is a traditional lunch that consists of beef or chicken, white rice and beans (red or black). It is known as a flag because it is very common in the country and because Dominican Republic national flag has 3 colors (and this plate has 3 main ingredients).
2. Sancocho: Sancocho is a broth that contains different types of meat mixed with vegetables. There are many versions of this Dominican dish and some are made using up to 7 types of meats!
3. Mangú: Mangu is a green banana puree that is usually eaten during breakfast. It’s often accompanied by fried egg, fried cheese, salami and avocado.
4. The pica pollo: The pica pollo is seasoned chicken that’s coated in flour and fried. Once it’s prepared, it’s golden brown and crisp. This dish is often served with French fries, tostones or cachú (which is the word they use for ketchup in Dominican Republic).
5. Sweet beans: Sweet beans prepared using red beans, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, raisins, and other types of ingredients. It’s prepared by boiling all the ingredients in a pot—and when it’s served, it’s combined with sweet cookies. It sounds strange, but it’s delicious!
Speaking of sweets, you might be interested in reading this article: 3 simple and super delicious recipes made with chocolate.
Typical food of Peru:
1. Ceviche: Ceviche is fresh fish or seafood marinated with onions, chili, lemon juice and salt. There are many versions of this dish, and each one even more delicious than the next.
2. Papa a la huancaína: Papa a la huancaína is made with cooked potato slices that are bathed in a sauce of white cheese, milk, soda crackers and yellow pepper. This dish is usually served on a lettuce leaf and paired with a hardboiled egg and olives (as decoration).
3. Causa rellana: Causa rellana is made using circular layers of mashed potatoes that are stuffed with chicken or tuna. You can also add corn, avocado, boiled egg, mayonnaise, and olives. This is one of the most common dishes in Peru.
4. Ají de gallina: Ají de gallina is a thick cream that’s made with shredded chicken, milk, broth, green peppers, and bread. It is usually served with rice and Peruvian potatoes. This dish is also decorated with hardboiled eggs and olives.
5. Rocoto filled: Rocoto filled is made using rocotos (a chili pepper that’s similar to red bell peppers) that are stuffed with ground beef or pork, seasoned with spices, parsley and… it’s often served with olives and hardboiled eggs! (They could not be missed in a Peruvian preparation).
Typical food of Colombia:
Dish: Bandeja paisa
1. Paisa tray: Depending on the region, paisa tray can include more than 10 ingredients, such as ground beef, white rice, sliced ripe banana, fried egg, kidney beans, avocado, chorizo, chicharrón, blood sausage, hogao (a sauce) and arepa. It’s served in a tray because of its many ingredients.
2. Ajiaco: Ajiaco is a soup whose main ingredients consist of yellow Colombian potatoes, corn, chicken and arrachacha (celery). It is served hot and is often served with capers, mild sour cream, chives, corn, avocado, black pepper and jalapenos.
3. Arepas: Arepas is a round flat cake, that’s made with ground corn or precooked cornmeal. They can be eaten fried or roasted, sweet or salty, alone or stuffed to taste. Without a doubt, arepas is a very, very versatile dish.
4. Tripe: Tripe is a soup made using vegetables and the edible lining of the stomachs of farm animals. It is a typical plate that each family prepares to their liking. Tripe is usually served as a main course because it is very heavy.
5. Changua: Changua is a typical Colombian dish that’s made with few ingredients and is easy to prepare. It’s a broth that’s made using milk, water, eggs, coriander, and salt. It’s typically served during breakfast. Changua is often paired with stale bread or arepa.
At EFOODTRAINER we are fans of Latino food and culture, which is why it was very difficult for us to choose just 5 dishes per region. Did you know them all?
If you are from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Peru or Colombia, tell us what other typical foods from those countries we should try out. And if you want us to include your country in a second part of this article, be sure to suggest it in the comments!