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Around the World – Latin Style

Today I want to highlight how amazing Latin food is by sharing some of my favorite dishes. As I have said before I was born in Peru but I have lived in Miami pretty much my whole life, and I have learned to love all this different cultures and fall in love with their food. This was a very hard list to write because I have more than one favorite dish in most cases. So take a seat and let me take you on a trip and teach you about Latin food.

I’m going to start with the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico and finally South America.

Cuba: This one was very hard to pick because even though Miami is a mix of a lot of different cultures the most predominant one is Cuban. If you go to Miami you have to have a Cuban Sandwich, this is not an authentic Cuban dish but is an authentic dish made by Cubans in Florida and is an staple of the Cuban experience. I can write a whole article just about Cuban food and give you pointers on the best restaurants but I will leave that for another time. My favorite dish is called Lechon with Arroz con Gri, is a slow roasted pork with rice and black beans, this is usually paired with boiled yucca and a garlic and white onion marinade or sweet plantains, it is a simple and delicious dish. Make sure to have a Cuban coffee with Pastelitos for breakfast, and please visit your local Cuban restaurant, I have taken a lot of friends and family and they loved the food and you will too.

Puerto Rico: Puerto Rican food is delicious but to me the staple is Arroz con Gandules. This is rice made with pigeon peas and made in a dutch over, is made with parboiled rice and you can pair it with anything! Pasteles are another delicious treat they are pretty much tamales but they are made with green plantains, potatoes and milk the filling can be made with pork or chicken and is cooked in a banana leaf. Is delicious and I highly recommend it.

Dominican Republic: There is no better breakfast than a Dominican one! for that you need to have Mangu. It is mashed green plantains often served with either scrambled eggs or fried eggs, pickled onions, deep fried cheese and fried salami slices. I know it sounds like a random plate of food and nothing goes together but trust me it is so good! If you have a Dominican restaurant near you I highly recommend to go for breakfast you will thank me.

Mangu

Mexico: I don’t think I need to mention why this country is here, we all know tacos and quesadillas are delicious. I do feel like I should mention for the few people who don’t know, Taco Bell and Chili’s are not real Mexican food, just Mexican inspired. Having said that the best tacos you are going to have will come from a food truck, I still have not found a Mexican restaurant with tacos as delicious as the food truck that is down the street from my house. Made by real Mexican people, you will see the difference, the tortilla alone is enough to tell the difference. Now lets talk sauces, and lets be honest, all the sauces are spicy you just have to pick your level of tolerance, I personally love the green sauce, I find the spice level is tolerable is it gives a good kick, but if you have a very low level of tolerance to spice I suggest just go without the sauce, the taco will be just as delicious. But my favorite dish are Enchiladas, is ground beef or chicken wrapped in a tortilla and baked with cheese on top, usually paired with sauce either green or red, if I’m going to a Mexican restaurant this is my go to dish.

Tacos

Nicaragua: In Miami there is a big Nicaraguan population and the most popular dish and the one I like the most is Carne Asada better known as Fritanga. Carne Asada is pretty much skirt steak grilled in charcoal, usually paired with Gallo Pinto which is rice with red beans and a cabbage salad. Fritanga is the establishment where the food is served I have one Fritanga place around and yes I visit a lot!

El Salvador: One word, PUPUSAS. Pupusas are a corn tortilla that have any filling you would like, you can get creative with them, they are easy to make and are delicious, if you are on a budget I recommend definetly go for some Pupusas they will fill you up for a buck.

Colombia: If you are fasting and are doing OMAD the dish I recommend is called Bandeja Paisa, you will not want to eat anything else after eating this and I will explain why. In ONE dish you will find, steak or ground beef, rice, beans, fried eggs, chorizo, sweet plantains, avocado and a corn arepa; yes this is just for one person. I have to share every time I eat this dish because I find it to bee way too much food but it is really good and this is the main plate in Colombia. Something you will find in any cafeteria in Miami is Pan de Bono is a cheese dough bread that is usually called gluten free bread balls, this is my mom’s favorite snack to have with coffee. Please go to a Colombian restaurant near you I promise everything is delicious and usually the portion sizes they serve are very generous so will have left overs.

Venezuela: Where do I start with Arepas. I like them so much I actually make them myself very often. They care flour tortillas, which is the difference between Colombian and Venezuelan Arepas. Colombian arepas are yellow in color while Venezuelan are white. I also find them to fluffier. You can eat them with plain butter and just like Pupusas you can stuff them with any food combination you like. They are so delicious and you can get creative with your food combinations, literally the sky is the limit.

Arepas

Brazil: This country is very dear to me, I was part of a community where mostly everyone was Brazilian, and I still have those friends to this day. The most famous dish is Feijoada; now, there is different styles of Feijoada but essentially is a black bean pork stew that is usually served with rice and a delicious Farofa (toasted cassava flour), is very filling and a great dish for those cold days. Another favorite of mine is Coxinha is a deep fried potato ball with a filling either chicken or ground beef, this is a snack that doesn’t feel like a snack, its hearty and filling and it will leave you wanting more. I could list at lest 5 more dishes and make another article just about Brazilian food. Please if you have the chance to go to Brazil or go to any Brazilian restaurant you need to try their Churrasco or BBQ, when it comes to meat both Brazil and Argentina are amazing, and the best topping for a Brazilian Churrasco is Farofa, you can’t eat Farofa by itself but when you pair it with another plate of food the toastiness gives that dish a pop of flavor you didn’t existed, and with meat is the best example.

Coxinhas

Argentina: You can’t try Argentina’s food without a Parrilla or BBQ. Argentina is famous for knowing how to throw down on a grill, I really recommend to go to an Argentinian Steakhouse and see for yourself. The difference in Brazil’s and Argentina’s is ultimately how they pair their meats with, in Argentina you eat your steak with Chimichurri, which is parsley based sauce mixed with olive oil and other spices, it is delicious and I have my own recipe for it because it pairs well with any type of meat. My favorite snack of all times is an Empanada and every Latin America country has their own version of them but in my opinion Argentina has the best (do not tell my Peruvian parents sshh!!) you can stuff the though with any filling, usually ground beef, chicken or spinach and is baked or fried, my favorite is baked empanadas, they are packed with flavor and you will not be disappointed, they are perfect as a snack or to have them with your morning coffee. Again, there is so many delicious dishes, Go to an Argentinian Steakhouse you will not be disappointed.

Peru: I can’t finish this list without mentioning my birth country, Peru. It was hard to choose only two dishes since I love everything about it, but I have to say you can’t go to Peru and not have their Ceviche, is fish cooked in lime juice, yes the lime juice cooks the fish its paired with corn, onions and sweet potatoes, if you love seafood as much as I do you will love this too. Another dish is Anticuchos, and I mention it because there is a stigma about certain parts of a cow people are not willing to eat, unless they don’t know…, which is usually the case of this dish, but I will let you know what it is in the case you ever go to Machu Picchu the street vendors don’t trick you. Anticuchos are cow’s heart cut into slices and put in a skewered and grilled, they usually been marinated and are paired with potatoes and Peru’s famous yellow chili on the side, now they do have regular steak and chicken Anticuchos if you don’t feel adventurous but the traditional way is made from cow’s heart. I will slowly be writing recipes of Peruvian dishes in my site because I want to highlight the gastronomy of my country, Peru did win best culinary destination for 8 years in a row and has had two three restaurants in the world’s 50’s best restaurants in the world list.

Ceviche
Anticuchos

I know I missed some countries but is because I haven’t had the chance to try some of their dishes yet, as soon as I do I will be updating this list. In the meantime, be adventurous and don’t be afraid to expand your pallet you will be surprised on how much you like certain things you didn’t know you would, some dishes don’t sound appetizing but trust me they are, you don’t need to travel the world to try a lot of this dishes just look for a restaurant near you and you will see how amazing Latin food is.

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