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Latin American Food

Latin American Food That's Nothing Short of Pure Delicious Genius

The Latin American food does not consist of a single cuisine. The entire Latin America is made up of many cultures, such as the Peruvian, Argentinean, Brazilian, etc., and each of these cultures have their own cooking style. Let us learn more about this huge culture's food history and the various types of Latin American foods.
Ratnashri Dutta
Last Updated: Dec 10, 2017
Thanks to the geographical closeness of the United States and the Latin American countries, the cuisine of the latter has become quite popular with the Americans. From tacos to roasted pork to fried plantains, name it and you will get it in many of the American shops. This type of food is best known for its method of preparation, which is labor intensive, and also for its bold flavors. If you still have not been fortunate enough to try out this cuisine, I am sure that after reading the article the first thing you will do is go to your nearest restaurant and order the best dish available. But, before putting your teeth into the delicious food, learning about its history will make the meal even more enjoyable.
Just like the cuisine, even the history of Latin American food is complex as well as unique. It's a mixture of various cultures and traditions. Before the Europeans discovered South America, the latter knew all about cultivating an array of plants. They had enough knowledge about the irrigation system and terrace farming on the mountain slopes. They knew about how to grow corns and lima beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, chili peppers, avocados, peanuts, and chocolates and also how to raise llamas and guinea pigs. Every region of Latin America had its own special cuisine.
Then came the Europeans, the Asians (Chinese and Japanese), and the Africans (slaves), and they incorporated some of their own ideas and traditions into the Latin culture and vice-versa. There was a mixture of cultures and civilizations due to this. The Europeans introduced pigs, chickens, citrus trees, wheat, almonds, cows, and goats to this region and took back to their country some of the food habits of the Latin Americans. The Asians, mainly the Chinese and Japanese immigrants, came to this land with spices. The Africans came to Latin America as slaves. During their meal time, they were given pieces of meat that no one ate. The slaves modified these inedible food items with whatever they got and transformed them into something new and better, which was taken up by the natives.
The vast diversity in the South American food culture was not only because of the colonizers, immigrants, or slaves, but also because of the various traditions followed by the natives. The food culture in Brazil was different from that of Cuba, or that of Argentina, Mexico, and the rest of the countries within the continent. Cultural exchange between these countries is also responsible for the vast diversity in food traditions.
Common Food Products
Some of the common food products which you will be able to enjoy when you are in one of the countries of the Latin America are:
  • Corn
  • Peppers
  • Tropical fruits, like coconut, mango, lucuma, etc.
  • Queso blanco, a type of fresh cheese
  • Yucca or cassava, the starchy, edible roots of the yucca plant
Given below are some of the famous recipes which you can also try out at home and surprise your family with a nice Latin American dinner.
Canja: Chicken and Rice Soup
Material Required:
  • Chicken - ½
  • Grated onion - 1
  • Tomatoes, unseeded and crushed - 4
  • Garlic cloves, crushed along with the outer covering - 1
  • Parsley, minced
  • Water - 10 cups
  • Carrots, cut in strips - 3
  • Rice - ½ cup
  • Salt and pepper, as required
  1. Put the chicken, onion, tomatoes, garlic, parsley, and 8 cups of water in a pot and boil it.
  2. Reduce the flame and allow it to simmer for at least an hour.
  3. Now, remove the chicken and separate the meat and bones. Then, strain the liquid.
  4. Now, add the chicken, rice, and rest of the water and let it boil.
  5. Again, reduce the flame and allow the whole thing to simmer till the rice is cooked.
  6. Season it as you want and serve hot.
Dulce de Leche Souffle
Material Required:
  • Prepared dulce de leche - ¾ cups
  • Eggs - 4
  • Sugar - 4 tbsp
  • Nuts (optional)
  1. On a stainless steel or glass souffle dish, spread the dulce de leche with the help of a spatula. Add the nuts if you wish.
  2. In another bowl, beat the white of the eggs till they are stiff, and spread them over the dulce de leche.
  3. Now, beat the egg yolk along with sugar until it becomes creamy. Spread this over the egg whites.
  4. Put this in the oven and heat it at a temperature of about 200-405ºF for 12 minutes and serve hot.

Now you know about some of the Latin American recipes. Try them out and enjoy them with your friends and family.
Food Pyramid
  • The food pyramid shows today's consumers how to lead a healthy and long life by eating a healthy diet. It is an educational guide that promotes some of the healthiest foods and food habits in the Latin American life. The food that it promotes is also affordable, easy to make, and it reflects the vast range of traditions and flavors of this land. Let us now see the pyramid structure in detail. Let us start from the bottom, which consists of the most important food.
  • Vegetables, Tubers, Fruits, Whole Grains, Pastas, and Nuts:
    This is the most important part of the pyramid which the people consume daily. This section consists of vegetables like corn, yucca, spinach, okra, lettuce, etc., and fruits like coconut, bananas, apples, grapefruit, amaranth, breads, rice, tortillas, etc.
  • Fish, Poultry, and Dairy Products:
    Latin American people consumes these food products almost daily. This consists of chicken, duck, eggs, cheese, shrimp, geese, etc.
  • Sweet Meats:
    These foods are not consumed daily, as they are not considered to be healthy. They form the topmost part of the pyramid. This part consists of meats of goat, lamb, and pork and sweet dishes such as custards, cakes, candies, etc.

Now you have enough information about the food culture and you also know how to prepare a few Latin American dishes. So, either try them out at home, or take your family out for an enjoyable Latin American dinner.
A food pyramid of a variety of different foods