A Culinary Tour of Latin America

BY YVETTE BROWN

When it comes to Hispanic cuisines, there are various flavors and diverse dishes throughout the nations, all including different types of meat, rice and vegetables as well as a variety of spices. The spices are the main ingredients that show that each country tends to use distinct flavors and those that share spices, tend to use them in different quantities. In each country from Colombia to the Dominican Republic and Mexico, there are many different cuisines to try out.

Dominican:
26-Hispanic-Food-Dominican-QuipesDominican food ranges between different fish, chicken and stews. Their cuisines consist of a combination of Spanish, indigenous Taino and African influences. Some Middle-Eastern dishes have also been adopted into Dominican cuisines, such as “Quipe,” which comes from the Lebanese kibbith.

When it comes time to a traditional breakfast, some of the food includes fried salami, fried Spanish sausage, cod fish with eggs, fried white cheese and stewed cod fish served with mashed green plantains or green bananas. This combines the sweet and salty, giving you just the right amount of flavors. Some other foods included in their breakfast are avocados and mangu.

The most important meal of the Dominican culture is lunch where it consists of mainly rice, red beans and meat such as beef, chicken, pork or fish. A typical lunch would be ribs with white or yellow rice and brown or red beans with plantains. Most Dominican cuisines consist of stews or soup, which is what the culture takes much pride in. The soups are easy and cheap and can feed a large number of people. Some soups include legumes, rice and meat stew or red or white bean stew with mashed squash, sausage and ripe plantains. The main elements of Dominican cuisines are pastelons or casseroles. The most popular ones being yellow plantain casseroles and cassava casseroles. The casseroles are usually stuffed with ground meat or chicken.

Their desserts include fruit cooked in syrup, cornmeal and coconut cake, coconut macaroons made with sugar, shredded coconut and milk and, the most popular, dulce de leche which is best with pineapple jam.

26-Empanada_GourmetMexican:
Tex-Mex is not what we are talking about when it comes to Mexican cuisines. Mexican cuisines consist primarily of a fusion of indigenous Mesoamerican cooking with European and Spanish elements. Some of their basic elements include corn, beans, chili peppers, beef, pork, chicken, goat and sheep. And then there is the cheese and various herbs and spices.

The ingredients in Mexican cuisines are created mostly with ingredients that are native to Mexico such as tomatoes, squashes, avocados, cocoa and vanilla as well as edible flowers, vegetables and papaloquelite or small criollo avocados, whose skin is edible.

Their breakfast is heartier than in other countries and mainly consists of leftovers, meat in broth, tacos, enchiladas or meat with eggs, but the main meal of the day is dinner or supper. Dinner begins with soup, often chicken broth with pasta or a “dry soup,” which is pasta or rice flavored with onions, garlic or vegetables. The meat is usually served in a cooked sauce with salsa on the side which is accompanied with bean and tortillas.

By the evening, Mexican cuisines are usually leftovers from dinner or sweet bread with coffee or chocolate. The most popular foods vary from tacos to quesadillas, pambazos, tamales, huaraches, alambres and al pastor.

Most importantly is their popular dessert, flan. It is a custard made up of caramel, sugar, milk and vanilla and orange peel.

Colombian:
26-FlanColombian cuisines include the cooking traditions of Colombia’s Caribbean shoreline, Pacific coast, mountains, jungle and ranchlands. These cuisines vary based on region and are influenced by the indigenous Chibcha, Spanish, African, Arab and some Asian cuisines. And Colombian coffee is known for its high quality.

Colombian cuisines vary in tropical fruits such as cape gooseberry, feijoa, dragon fruit, papaya and passion fruit as well as other fruits, along with the tropical variety Colombia’s most common ingredients include rice, and maize, potato and cassava, assorted legumes and meats such as beef chicken, pork and goat as well as fish and seafood.

Cuban:
Cuban cuisines are a fusion of Native American Taino food, Spanish, African and Caribbean cuisines. Some Cuban cuisines share spices and techniques with Spanish and African flavors and influences in Caribbean spice and flavor. Cuban cuisines have a unique, interesting and flavorful blend of the different cultural influences with strong similarities to the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Some of their lesser known influences come from the Chinese and the Havana area.

A typical Cuban cuisine consists of rice and beans. A main course consisting mainly of pork or beef is also accompanied by yuca, malanga, potato – which can be boiled or fried – as well as plantains, unripe bananas and even corn. Their salads are usually composed of tomato lettuce and avocado with cucumber, carrots, cabbage and fermented green beans and radish.

White rice and red beans are an element that is found throughout the region and they are cooked together with a sofrito and then baked in the oven, the same method is used for Congri – which is black beans and rice – it contains some of the basics from onion to garlic, bay leaf and salt. Meanwhile their meats are often served with light sauces made with oil, garlic, onion and spices such as oregano and bitter orange or lime juice.

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