Explore South America
South America Food and Drink
The foods of South America are as diverse as the countries within the continent’s borders. One reason for this vast diversity is that each country in South America has been influenced by external cuisines and ingredients. Flavor profiles and culinary influences from Africa, European countries, Native Americans and even Asia have all had a hand in transforming South American cuisine into what it is today. Even though there are huge differences in the use of ingredients and spices from country to country, some commonalities can be found in dishes such as guacamole, salsa, mole, chimichurri, tamales, tortillas and sofritos.
Argentine cuisine has been heavily influenced by Italian and Spanish cuisines, and while beef is omnipresent and often served in huge quantities, it is parrilla, a mixed grill of simply seasoned and prepared combination of sausage, organ meats and steak that holds the honor of being the country’s national dish. Afternoon tea in Argentina is a fondly preserved and popular tradition, and Argentinean wines are recognized as some of the best in the world.
The cuisine of Brazil varies widely from region to region, and as a whole the country’s dishes have been heavily influenced by many other countries. Brazil’s national dish comes from humble origins though today it can be found on even the best menus. Feijoada is this dish, and it is a stewed combination of beef, pork and beans.
Chilean cuisine is an interesting fusion of European flavors and indigenous ingredients. Seafood is commonly served, and while there is no common consensus on one single national dish, empanadas, caldillo de congrio (a soup made from eel, tomatoes, onions, potatoes and spices), and pastel de choclo are all considered national specialties. Chilean wines are especially good and are widely consumed.
The inland dishes of Columbia vary greatly from the dishes of the coastal areas. Bandeja paisa, however, is considered to be the national dish. This dish is a combination of steak, sausage, rice and beans, and pork rinds that is then topped with one or more fried eggs and sliced avocado.
Ecuador shares naming ceviche as their national dish with Peru. In Ecuador, ceviche is very popular along the coastal areas but inland the most popular food is a street food favorite called hornado. This is a dish of potatoes and roasted pig and can be found on just about any street corner in the mountainous areas of the country.
Peru also claims ceviche as its national dish, but this country’s cuisine is so diverse that to settle on one single dish to represent it is difficult. Other popular dishes include papa rellena which is a dish of mashed potatoes that has been stuffed with ground meat, olives, eggs and spices then deep fried, and pollo a la brasa. Pollo a la brasa is chicken either grilled or roasted after being marinated. This dish holds the honor of being the most widely consumed dish throughout the country. The pisco sour is a famous Peruvian cocktail that combines pisco, lime juice, simple syrup, egg white and bitters.
In Venezuela one can find dishes that are very similar to many European specialties such as empanadas, cachitos which are very like French croissants and pasticho which is the country’s version of lasagna. The national dish is Pabellón criollo which is Venezuela’s version of rice and beans with the addition of shredded beef. There are very many variations on this dish throughout the country.
South America is a country not only of cultural diversity but also of culinary diversity. Some of the world’s best dishes hail from South America, and their lasting legacy of flavors and ingredients have forever changed the global culinary scene, just as international flavors have long ago influenced traditional dishes helping them evolve into what is considered to be modern South American cuisine.
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