If you google South America, a cascade of flags, landscapes, and background pictures will come to the internet surface. The southern region of the American continent is as diverse and vast as the people that live there. You can be in Brazil and experience its humidity, rains, and colors, and three hours later you can be in Argentina enjoying the mountains, lakes, beaches, and a capital city known for being “the most European city” in the whole region.
But exploring South America is not only about witnessing breathtaking landscapes, long and adventurous road journeys, and the Machu Picchu; it’s also about immersing oneself in the rich and diverse mix of flavors that define the continent’s culinary identity.
Each country has its own way of cooking meat, seasoning vegetables, setting the table, and sharing their meals. That’s why we’ve selected four dishes from four different South American countries for you to get to know and taste when you have the chance to travel there and, most importantly, for some, to try to make at home.
Feijoada from Brazil: A Nourishing Historic Treat
Feijoada, also known as the Brazilian national dish, is a hearty stew that embodies the essence of Brazilian cuisine. This savory dish, traditionally served in a clay bowl, is typically made with black beans, various cuts of pork or beef, and a variety of smoked sausages. Feijoada is a celebration of diverse flavors, textures, and aromas served with white rice, collard greens, and orange slices.
Its origins can be traced back to the time of the enslaved Brazilian population, making it not only a culinary delight but also a culturally significant dish. As Juliana Da Penha points out: “In oral history, the Brazilian feijoada was created by African slaves. In literature, it is exalted as an adaptation of European culture. The country’s racial relations are revealed through this Brazilian symbol of gastronomy.”
It may seem like an easy-to-make dish, and please try and tell us how it goes if you dare to make it at home! But, do not forget to try feijoada if you ever travel to one of the largest countries in South America.
Asado from Argentina: A Meat Lover’s Paradise
When in Argentina, you must try an authentic Asado, a traditional barbecue-style feast that is deeply rooted in the Argentine way of life. Asado is more than just a meal; it’s a social event, a treasured tradition where family and friends gather to enjoy succulent grilled meats like beef, pork, and sausages, all cooked to perfection over an open flame. The tantalizing aroma of smoky meat combined with the lively atmosphere creates an experience that truly embodies Argentine hospitality and culinary expertise.
Although meat is the main character of this Argentinian feast, it’s nothing without smoked vegetables, provoleta, and the “chimichurri” sauce. Most importantly, this rite must be shared with friends and family at a big table.
If you are looking for an Argentinian-like weekend, here’s a COCINA recipe that will make all the difference.
Salteñas from Bolivia: A Flavorful Empanada Experience
Traveling to Bolivia warrants a taste of the delectable Salteñas, a type of savory pastry that reflects the country’s diverse cultural influences. These baked or fried pastries are typically filled with a juicy mixture of seasoned meat, potatoes, peas, and a variety of spices, creating a burst of flavor with every bite. Salteñas are not just a popular street food; they are a symbol of Bolivia’s vibrant culinary heritage, offering a unique blend of indigenous and Spanish flavors that showcase the country’s rich cultural fusion.
Around the region, Bolivian Salteñas are also known as “empanadas,” and there are many countries that have given their national touch to the recipe to make them on their own terms. At COCINA, we also have tried to provide our own signature to this salty and easy-to-make dish. You can find the recipe here!
Huancaina Potatoes from Peru: A Creamy Culinary Delight
No culinary journey through South America is complete without savoring the flavors of Huancaina Potatoes from Peru. This beloved Peruvian dish features boiled potatoes smothered in a rich, creamy sauce made from a blend of spicy yellow Peruvian peppers, cheese, and nuts. The resulting sauce, known as Huancaina sauce, adds a delectable kick to the tender potatoes, creating a dish that is both comforting and exciting. Huancaina Potatoes encapsulates the essence of Peruvian cuisine, showcasing the country’s love for vibrant flavors and unique culinary techniques.
Budget-friendly and ideal for any season, Huancaina Potatoes serve as a side dish or main dish depending on your preferences. If you do not have the chance to travel to Peru yet, fear not, you can make this dish at home.
These four dishes from Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru represent only a small take on the diverse and vibrant gastronomic experiences that exist in South America. So, when planning your next adventure, keep these culinary delights on your must-try list and get ready to embark on a gastronomic journey that will excite your senses and leave you wanting more.
PS. If you are not ready to travel and discover South America yet, do not worry!! From COCINA we can assure you that these dishes will make you feel like you are already exploring the southern lands of the continent indulged in many many adventures.