Whether or not you’re a foodie, you (like everyone else) must eat! And if (like a lot of other people) you travel to new destinations to explore different cultures and experience new things, then eating the local cuisine is a must. In fact, indulging in a destination’s traditional food can not only help you discover something delicious but also encounter the authentic. And nowhere is that truer than in Latin America!
So if you’re planning a Latin American getaway and curious about what traditional cuisine you can dig into on your trip, read on. Here are some must-try traditional dishes and where it’s best to order them.
Betting on Brazil? Feed on Feijoada
It’s considered a national dish of Brazil. A basic Feijoada is a chili, black bean stew made with pork and beef — a delicious and filling meal. The stew can be prepared a number of different ways by adding extra ingredients to spice it up…but it all depends on the chef! Feijoada is usually served with sides such as vegetables, rice, or different sausages depending on how hungry you are. This dish is fairly heavy so you probably won’t eat feijoada more than once a week.
Enjoy Empanadas EVERYWHERE!
This stuffed bread/pastry is impossible to resist while in Latin America. Empanadas can either be baked or fried and can be stuffed with vegetables, cheese, meat, or anything else you desire. Although they are all the rage throughout Latin America, some countries like Argentina and Chile use different ingredients such as corn flour instead of wheat flour. So, if you’re strolling through a Hispanic country be sure to snack on one before, during, or after dinner!
Traditional deserts in Latin America are endless but two popular must-tries are tres leches, a sponge cake soaked in three different milks, and alfajor, a sandwich cookie usually filled with a candy-like treat called dulce de leche.
Chilling by the Coast or in the Caribbean? Chew on Ceviche!
If you’re a fan of sushi in Japan or crudo in Italy, then you should totally try the Hispanic take on raw fish. Considered by most to be originally a Peruvian dish, ceviche is actually a popular seafood dish in other Latin countries as well, especially in coastal regions and the Caribbean. It’s made with raw fish, marinated in citrus flavors, and is seasoned with chili peppers. The meal must be made fresh so the fish doesn’t expire. You can find ceviche all around Latin America but Lima, Peru is where you should grab your first bite.
Visitors to the Northern Tip of South America Should Acquire Arepa
If your travels take you to the very northern tip of the South American continent, where Venezuela and Colombia meet, you’ll certainly see these traditional cakes everywhere. Arepas are relatively small cornmeal cakes that can be fried, baked, or grilled and can be filled with basically anything and everything. It’s a tradition in Venezuela and is also a part of pre-Columbian traditions. This meal can be prepared to eat at any time of the day depending on the cornbread stuffing.
If you’d like something to sip on, be on the lookout for a pisco sour from Chile and Peru, Yerba Mate Tea from Argentina, or Cachaca from Brazil. All are must-try beverages!
Visit Venezuela and Put Away Pabellon Criollo
Yum!… is what you’ll most likely say after trying this authentic Venezuelan dish. Pabellon Criollo is typically made up of shredded meat, rice, and black beans. Some may complete the meal with a side of fried plantain slices. If you’re not a meat lover, it can also be made with fish upon request, since it’s certainly common in Venezuela during the Lenten season.
Pop into Peru to Consume Some Cuy
This may come across as a little extreme to you (or not) but Peruvians love their guinea pigs…LITERALLY! It’s a Peruvian delicacy that has grown to be popular, although you should be sure to use the Spanish word “cuy” rather than “guinea pig” when ordering. Cuy is low in fat and high in protein and is typically grilled or deep-fried. Although you may never think to eat these small, furry creatures, many say they’re very flavorful. If traveling to Peru, you will probably come across a fully cooked guinea pig with its head and claws still attached. And if you’re brave enough, why not try it?!
Now we’re hungry! Do you know of other authentic dishes in Latin America? Add them in our comment section below!