Right from the fresh fish and fruit of the Amazonia region to the Incan-influenced cuisine of Peru, it’s one exciting gastronomic journey. It’s all about seafood, the closer you get to the Pacific Ocean; king crabs, lobsters, Antarctic krill, and tuna – you name it. Blessed with rich and abundant food-growing plains, South America is a foodie paradise.
Argentine cuisine is a combination of Native Indian, Italian, Spanish Mediterranean and Arabic cuisines. You’ll find pasta dishes side by side with tortillas, enchiladas and empanadas. Even slices of pizza are served on top of faina, a type of bread baked using chickpea flour and flavored with rosemary.
Interesting Fact: Beef consumption is about 149 lbs per capita, and about 2 billion liters of beer are consumed every year.
Typical Meal: Meat stew such as carbonada or locro, casserole, pasta and pudding stuffed with meat. Other than the potato, other vegetables are used as side dishes.
Popular Dishes: Minutas (short-order dishes) beef steak with two fried eggs and fries, various kinds of sandwiches made of baked ham and cheese.
Popular Local Drinks: Cider, mate (Paraguayan tea) Ginebra bols and Cana (local alcoholic drinks), wine, beer, gin, whiskey, tea, coffee, licuados (fruit drink blended with milk or water).
Bolivian cuisine staples are potatoes, beans and corn, put together with cereals such as rice and wheat, and meats such as pork, meat, beef and chicken. Bolivians favor lunch over breakfast, preferring to keep breakfast light.
Interesting Fact: Bolivians observe the rather quaint British afternoon tea, when they drink cups of black tea with biscuits. Sometimes they drink yerba mate in place of the tea!
Typical Meal: Soup, followed by soup and a main course of meat and vegetables.
Popular Dishes: Ramen noodles, Humitas (fresh corn and cheese steamed in corn leaves), Salteñas (stuffed meat pastries) empanadas (pastries stuffed with cheese, onion, olives and locoto.
Popular Local Drinks: Fermented corn drink (chicha), soft drink with peanut (chicha de mani), Hot thick drink made from white mashed corn (tojori), wines and beers.
Brazilian cooking is distinct from its South American neighbors. Cassava and guaraná are popular ingredients contributed by the original residents. The cuisine is also influenced by Africa and Portugal. Dishes made of rice, fish, beef and pork are common.
Interesting Fact: Northern Brazil favors meat-based dishes while Southern Brazil is all about fish from the Amazon River. Brazil also has no less than 8 indigenously made unique beverages.
Typical Meal: A typical meal consists of cozido (meat and vegetable stew) with rice and a bowl of beans.
Popular Dishes: Various pastas, Caruru (made of dried shrimp, okra, onion and toasted nuts), feijoada (simmered meat and beans) tutu de feijão (paste of beans and cassava flour).
Popular Local Drinks: Cachaça (made of distilled sugar cane, known as the national liquor of Brazil), Caipirinha (Brazil’s national cocktail made of cachaça, sugar and lime juice) Caju Amigo (made of cachaça with juice from a cashew nut), Leite de Onça (“Jaguar Milk” made with cachaça and milk, served cold).
Chilean cuisine is flavored with European influences, especially those of Spain. Chilean food uses a lot of seafood, especially unique species of fish, the Chilean sea bass, picoroco and loco. Wine is used in the cooking of all types of food.
Interesting Fact: Chile is one of the world’s largest producers of wine
Typical Meal: A typical meal involves a meat soup made of finely diced beef and different vegetables, served with Brazilian bread and a side dish.
Popular Dishes: Arrollado de Chancho (pork chunks wrapped in pork fat and chili), Charquican (a mushy dish made of ground meat cooked with vegetables). Seafood dishes such as Almejas con Limón (raw clams with lemon juice), Caldillo de Congrio (conger-eel soup), Ceviche (minced raw sea bass in lemon juice) and many more
Popular Local Drinks: Borgoña (cold red wine served with chopped strawberries), chicha (sweet fermented made from apples or grapes), cola de mono (aguardiente liquor made with milk, cinnamon, coffee and sugar).
Colombian cuisine varies depending on the region you’re visiting. Bogotán and Andean cuisines are mainly meat and vegetable based, while regions along the Caribbean coast use Whale liver in their food. There are Arabian influences here, as can be seen from Suero a dish that’s a cross between yogurt and sour cream.
Interesting Fact: In Colombia, you’ll find numerous tropical fruits that are not found elsewhere, such as different versions of banana.
Typical Meal: A typical meal consists of ajiaco, a soup made of chicken, corn, various potatoes, guascas (local herb) and avocado, served with white rice, salad, tostadas and lemon.
Popular Dishes: Coconut rice, barbecued meat, freshwater fish dishes, tamales tolimenses made of corn dough and filled vegetables and meat, Lechona (whole roast stuffed pig).
Popular Local Drinks: Aguapanela (sugarloaf dissolved in hot water), Aguardiente (alcoholic drink made from sugarcane), Guarapo (made of various fruits fermented in a ceramic jar), Colombian chocolate drinks and of course, the famous Colombian coffee.
image credit: www.inloughborough.com
Feel free to comment or share your thoughts on this "South American Cuisine Guide" article from Awesome Cuisine.