If you’ve never been fortunate enough to visit South America, you’d be forgiven for thinking the cuisine doesn’t vary much across the continent. In fact, there’s a wide range of delicious foods to entice your tastebuds. Here are just a few of the best.
THE FLAVOURS OF COLUMBIA
Starting in the north, let’s take a look at Colombian cuisine. Dishes here are usually based on meat and rice, and thin soups are served with almost every meal. Even if you’re sweltering on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, you can expect a hot, flavoursome soup to be served as a starter.
Some of the ingredients on offer in a typical Colombian dish are also found in Mexican cuisine: red or black beans and avocados are staples. However, Colombia’s gastronomy is a lot milder. If you’re a chilli-phobe, this is a great chance to enjoy the same ingredients without setting your mouth on fire.
You can also find arepas in Colombia, but they’re possibly even tastier in neighbouring Venezuela. These cornmeal pockets are freshly made all over the country every day, and can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Unlike Colombians, Venezuelans always fill their arepas. There are thousands of fillings available, but one of the best is ‘Reina Pepiada’, which features shredded chicken, mayonnaise and avocado.
AN ARGENTINIAN MEAT FEAST
You may think you’ve had good beef in other parts of the world, but nothing beats a barbecue in Argentina. Known locally as ‘asado’, this style of cooking uses top-quality beef and will leave your mouth watering. Nothing beats the amazing steaks you’ll try in this country.
Argentinians use every part of the cow, but you might need some serious courage to tackle the intestines! Luckily, it’s all usually served with a delicious, tangy chimichurri salsa to add some herby flavour.
MATE TO WASH IT DOWN
Mate (pronounced MAT-ay) is a popular drink not only in Argentina, but also in Uruguay, South Brazil and Paraguay. This herbal tea is made from the yerba mate plant, and has enough caffeine to wake you up.
Mate tea, along with the distinctive metal cup and straw combo that people consume it from, makes a great gift to send back home. Easier to transport than fresh food, it can easily be delivered as a parcel for an instant reminder of South America.
Yes, really! Not many people realise it, but Brazil is home to the largest Japanese population outside Japan. Naturally, they’ve brought a touch of their own gastronomy to their new home, but in Brazil, sushi has a distinctive samba flair that you won’t see in Asia.
Brazilian sushi is cheap and readily available in all of the country’s big cities. Known as temaki, it features distinctive ingredients such as mango and kiwi, as well as cream cheese (all unheard of in the Japanese tradition, but totally delicious).