Carnaval 2024 is upon us, a time for vibrant costumes, pulsating music, and of course, delicious food! Across the diverse tapestry of Latin cultures, Carnival celebrations are woven with unique traditions and culinary delights. Let’s embark on a colorful and savory journey, exploring some mouthwatering recipes and time-honored customs that bring the spirit of Carnival to life!
First things first, why is Carnaval so celebrated in Latin America?
Carnival in Latin America is unlike any other because of its great cultural diversity and diverse geography. But one thing is certain: there is always plenty of dancing, music, and celebrations.
After the Spanish arrived on October 12, 1492, several Latin American countries were forced to adopt Catholicism and its practices. The similarly Catholic Portuguese quickly followed, taking their Carnaval with them.
Since then, Carnival in Latin America (especially in Río de Janeiro, Brazil) has evolved into diverse identities adopted by participating cities, regions, and countries. Carnival in Latin America is something to experience at least once, from the Caribbean islands to South America’s Andean mountains, from African influences to Incan influences.
Latin Traditions Are Worth The Journey!
Río de Janeiro is indeed the most famous city when talking about Carnival, but it is not the only one. Most Latin countries are going through summer during this celebration, so it is not a surprise to find people and parades outside dancing in the streets.
While Río has its popular comparsa and parade in which different escolas (groups) choose a special topic to dress like and embrace, other countries celebrate with water, mud, and even foam. Yes. You are reading this correctly.
In Trinidad & Tobago, for example, people smear themselves with molten chocolate. Carnival goers in Paraguay and Argentina splash each other with fake snow (aka foam). Water trucks in Panama keep the masses cool. In Mexico, the festivities begin with the burning of a massive papier-mâché effigy.
Masks are passed around, colorful clothes are out in the streets, and if you are near the beach you can’t miss a good party!
Carnaval in Latin America is more than just a celebration, it is a release, a new beginning alluding to what Jesus went through and overcame. Even if you are not a Catholic, the mood and the parties will invite you to embrace the joy, the food, and the dance that’s shared all over the place.
Ready to dance around and try some fishy recipes?
During this period of Lent, which starts on what’s called Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday, people in Latin America tend to remember when Jesus spent 40 days and nights without food and drink in the desert. Alluding to that sacrifice and journey, Latinxs sacrifice what they like the most: red meat.
So, it is common to see TONS of fish recipes and empanadas going around each city and town.
If you are looking to have a more Hispanic experience, here are three recipes that will make your Lent period a delicious one:
These crispy golden parcels promise a burst of Latin flavors. Flaky cod mingles with fresh herbs and tangy lime zest, enveloped in a creamy sauce made with vibrant tomatoes, smoky chiles, and a hint of sweetness. Serve them as a vibrant appetizer or main course, perfect for sharing during festive occasions like Carnival.
Dive into the refreshing world of Ceviche Verde, a Latin American seafood treat that bursts with vibrant tropical flavors. Ideal for every day, but especially during Carnival…Imagine sweet shrimp cooked in a tangy lime and passion fruit, dancing with crisp cucumber, earthy jalapeño, and vibrant cilantro. This ceviche is not your average raw fish dish – it’s a symphony of textures and tastes, perfect for a light, fresh, and delightful meal or appetizer for those who love summer or want to feel the vibes of that hot Latin weather.
Crab croquettes are ideal for carnival festivities due to their delicious and savory flavor, convenient bite-sized servings for socializing, and the indulgent, celebratory vibe they bring with the rich taste of fresh crab meat and crispy breadcrumbs. Their handheld nature makes them a practical and enjoyable treat, enhancing the overall festive experience.