Foods Worth Traveling for: South America (Slideshow)
March 6, 2014
Every one of these iconic dishes is worth the trip
Argentina: Dulce de Leche
The caramelized milk and sugar sauce known as dulce de leche can be found everywhere from the breakfast table to the dessert course in Argentina. The primary ingredient in dulce de leche is the milk, and the superiority of Argentinian dulce de leche comes from the high quality of their dairy cows.
A parrillada is a grilled assortment of meat and poultry, and one of the most popular dishes in Argentina. The meat feast can be found everywhere, from fine dining establishments like Cabaña Las Lilas in Buenos Aires to cheaper food stands around the country.
Like the pretzel vendors roaming New York City’s streets, street stalls selling acarajé are synonymous with the Brazilian city of Salvador. Acarajé is such an urban institution, even the sellers of these snack-sized black eyed pea fritters — women known as “baianas”- have become icons in Brazilian culture.
This Brazilian dish was originally brought to the country by Portuguese colonizers. The meat-packed dish is a stew made of beans, salted pork and beef, bacon, smoked sausage, and spices. For an upscale version, visit Casa de Feijoada in Rio de Janeiro. For a more casual vibe, check out Aconchego Carioca.
Moqueca, a seafood stew traditionally cooked in clay pots, is an iconic Brazilian dish. A truly great moqueca draws from the abundance of fresh fish available on Brazil’s long coastline.
The empanada is the national food of Chile, although it is cooked and served throughout Latin America. They are often filled with beef, fish, or beans and cheese, although there are a variety of preparations. Just outside Santiago, visit Las Hermanas for great Chilean empanadas.
Chile: Pastel de Choclo
Pastel de Choclo is essentially a meat pie made with puréed corn, ground beef or chicken, and a variety of other fillings like onions, garlic, olives, and raisins. It is seen on menus throughout Chile, but the famous Galindo Restaurant in Santiago is home to one of the best versions.
Colombia: Bandeja Paisa
There is debate about who originally created this popular dish (many say the Andean people), but today's controversy centers on which town serves the best today: Medellín or Bogota. The dish consists of beans, rice, pork skin, meat or chorizo, plantains, avocado, and fried egg. For one of the best renditions of the meal in Bogota, check out El Portal de la Antigua.
Ecuador: Cuy (Guinea Pig)
Guinea pigs, or cuy, are considered a revered delicacy in Ecuador and throughout the Andes. Cuy is most often eaten for special occasions, roasted and served whole at the holiday table.
Grenada: Oil Down
This communal meal is a soup made of salted meat, chicken, coconut milk, turmeric, taro leaves, dumplings, curry powder, and breadfruit. Often served at parties, family and friends gather to share the traditional dish. If you’re looking to get the soup at a restaurant, try Boots Cuisine in St. George.
Guyana: Guyana Pepperpot
Guyana Pepperpot is a traditional stew that is often used for special occasions because it takes a long time to prepare. The stew is blood-red and filled with meat, cinnamon, cassava juice, and peppers. One of the best places to try it is Coal Pot Restaurant in Georgetown.
Paraguay: Sopa Paraguaya
Although the name is deceiving (it literally means Paraguayan soup) this dish is actually more like a cornbread made with cheese. It is served at a special feast called an asado, along with meats. A great place to try it is Lido Bar in Asunción.
Ceviche is served at restaurants all around Peru, even ones that are not traditionally Peruvian. The dish is made of raw fish that is "cooked" in a marinade of lime and lemon juice and chile. It is often served with corn and avocado. For one of the most acclaimed versions of the dish, visit La Mar in Lima.
This dish is known throughout Uruguay as a way to bring people together. It means, essentially, barbecue, and the meats can be grilled and prepared a number of ways. It is often cooked at gatherings or feasts, but Asado y Milonga in Punta del Este is a good place to go and sample it.
Venezuela: Pabellón Criollo
A spin on a simple rice and beans dish, pabellón criollo consists of shredded beef, stewed black beans, and rice. Popular toppings on the dish include plantains and fried eggs. La Cocina de Francy in Caracas has a great version of the traditional Venezuelan dish.
Vendors selling anticuchos, or kebabs of grilled beef heart, are a familiar sight on the streets of Peru. Each stall has their own special blend of marinade, varying from vinegar to beer, that lend these street meats their signature flavor.