What are the flavours of South America? Such a diverse continent offers a tantalising food experience to hungry travellers. This sampler is a quick whip around the continent to give you an idea of what to try on a visit here.
The influence of Brazil’s climate is apparent in its cuisine. In the tropical, coastal areas Bahian cooking is amongst the most popular where fresh seafood is cooked in spices introduced by the Portuguese, combined with milk and oil from the coconut palms that grow in abundance.
In the south, an area affectionately known as cowboy country, meat is the order of the day. Churrascarias, barbecue restaurants, are found throughout Brazil but the best are here. Get set to be served beef, pork, chicken and more from great sword-like skewers.
Peru is world-renowned as a food destination. Lima is undoubtedly the country’s (and arguably the continent’s) food capital. 9 of the top 50 restaurants in Latin America are located in Peru’s capital city and the acclaimed Central placed fourth on the 2015 World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
Looking for something more rustic? Make sure you try the stews like carapulcra or tacu-tacu in the more rural areas of Peru. And of course there’s always guinea pig – a Peruvian delicacy. You can ask for it whole or take your pick of the top or bottom half.
For most, Argentinian cuisine conjures up images of steak and it’s really no surprise. The quality and prevalence of meat, in particular beef, makes this the country to embrace your inner carnivore. The wild grazing of the Pampas produces some of the world’s finest beef which is most commonly cooked on a traditional Argentine barbecue, Asado style. In Buenos Aires one of the best steak dining experiences can be had in the charming Palermo district at the La Cabrera Norte restaurant but be sure to book in advance.
A trip to Mendoza is highly recommended. The wine may taste a treat but the scenery is sumptuous. The snow-capped Andes sit on the horizon as you look out over the vineyards. A perfect way to spend an afternoon sipping your favourite Malbec.
And, let’s not forget the sweet stuff. Bariloche is Argentina’s chocolate capital. It competes with Switzerland with its picturesque alpine setting, chalet-style accommodation and the abundance of high quality chocolate on offer.
Chile has developed its own distinctive cuisine which has its roots in its Spanish history. The seafood in Chile is excellent, due to its proximity to the sea. Salmon is readily available and a visit to the local markets is a pescatarian heaven with so much fresh fish to choose from.
And of course, you can’t talk about Chilean produce without taking a look at its fine wine. The Maipo Valley extends from Santiago to the Andes and produces high quality Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet blends. Some of the vines here are 150 years old.
A tour to one of the local wineries is a must.
And finally, for the best coffee in the continent (though hotly contested), Colombia is the place to go. Many coffee plantations offer tours where you can learn all about the coffee-making process, ‘from the grain to the cup’.
Interested in travelling and trying these South American cuisines? Click for information on our small group tours to South America.