Travel south of the border and learn to appreciate Latin American food. This section covers foods and food traditions from countries such as Brazil, Columbia, Argentina, Peru, and Cuba.

by Varud Gupta

Photo by Varud Gupta

Photo by Varud Gupta

Walking into an Argentinian grill, or parilla, might at first overwhelm the senses — the sight of succulent meats being passed around a table, the smell of vegetables caramelizing over coals, and the sounds of wine glasses clinking together for a “Salud!

Argentina is famous around the world for its quality of meat. Free-range animals on large, fertile grasslands led to a gaucho(cowboy)-driven lifestyle. As the expertise of gauchos increased over the years, so did the variety of meats. Beef takes the center stage at Argentinian barbecues, but at any parilla, there might be upwards of 30 cuts of meat. Here are the highlights: (more…)

Posted by on May 2nd, 2016

Feijoada is a stew of beans with beef and pork and is considered by Brazil as their national dish.  It’s a recipe that was originally brought to South America by the Portuguese, based on recipes from the Portuguese regions of Beira, Estremadura, and Trás-os-Montes.

Portuguese Feijoada

The basic ingredients of Portuguese feijoada are beans and fresh pork or beef meat. In northwest Portugal (chiefly Minho and Douro Litoral), it is usually made with white beans; in the northeast (Trás-os-Montes), it is generally prepared with red (kidney) beans, and includes other vegetables such as tomatoes, carrots, and cabbage. The stew is best prepared over low heat in a thick clay pot.

Portuguese feijoada is usually served with rice and assorted sausages, such as chouriço, morcela (a blood sausage), farinheira, and others, which may or may not be cooked in the stew.

Brazilian Feijoada

Recipe

The Brazilian feijoada is prepared with black turtle beans, with a variety of salted pork and beef products, such as salted pork trimmings (ears, tail, feet), bacon, smoked pork ribs, at least two types of smoked sausage and jerked beef (loin and tongue).

This stew is best prepared over slow fire in a thick clay pot. The final dish has the beans and meat pieces barely covered by a dark purplish-brown broth. The taste is strong, moderately salty but not spicy, dominated by the flavors of black bean and meat stew.

Side Dishes

In Brazil, feijoada is traditionally served with rice, and accompanied by chopped fried collard greens (couve mineira), lightly roasted coarse cassava flour (farofa) and peeled and sliced orange. Other common side dishes are boiled or deep-fried cassava, deep-fried bananas, and pork rinds (torresmo). A pot of hot pepper sauce is often provided on the side. The meal is often washed down with cachaça, caipirinha, or beer.

Tradition

Since it is a rather heavy dish that takes several hours to cook, feijoada is consumed in Brazil only occasionally, always at lunch time. Traditionally, restaurants will offer it as the “daily’s special” only once or twice a week, usually on Wednesdays, Saturdays, or sometimes on Sundays. (As a traditional holdover from old Catholic dietary restrictions, the Friday’s special dish is more likely to be fish.) However, some restaurants will serve feijoada all week long.

History

A popular myth states that the Brazilian feijoada was a “luxury” dish of African slaves on Brazilian colonial farms (engenhos), as it was prepared with relatively cheap ingredients (beans, rice, collard greens, farofa) and leftovers from salted pork and meat production. Over time, it first became a popular dish among lower classes, and finally the “national dish” of Brazil, offered even by the finest restaurants.

However, historians like Luís da Câmara Cascudo consider that feijoada is a Brazilian version of stews from Southern European countries like France (cassoulet), Spain, Italy and, of course, Portugal. Traditional Portuguese bean-and-pork dishes (cozidos) like those from the regions of Estremadura and Trás-os-Montes are the ancestors of Brazilian feijoada. The earliest printed references to the dish appeared in the mid-19th century, based on menus of upper-class, urban restaurants.[2]

Other Recipes

Other former territories of the Portuguese Empire still retain the feijoada as a major typical dish of their respective cuisines. Angolan and São Tomean feijoadas add palm oil for flavouring.

If you’re looking to try Feijoada for yourself, here are a few restaurants you could check out.

Cypo Cafe
7438 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33141
(305) 865-3811

Delicias Brazil
2315 W Airport Fwy
Irving, TX 75062
(972) 255-3714

Ipanema Restaurant
13 W 46th St
New York, NY 10036
(212) 730-5848

Rio Brasil Cafe
3300 Overland ave
Los Angeles, CA 90034
(310) 558-3338

Taste of Brasil
906 S Oak Park Ave
Oak Park, IL 60304
(708) 383-3550

Reprinted from Wikipedia

Posted by on March 12th, 2010

bbqMore than 400 years ago cattle ranching was introduced to the Rio Grande do Sul region of Brazil. Cowboys, called Gauchos herded these cattle, and like the cowboys of Texas created a new style of cooking. It is their way of cooking, churrasco (shoo-rhas’co), that has inspired traditions carried on worldwide today. Since they had no way of preserving food, the gauchos would gather together after butchering a cow, and skewer and cook the large portions of meat immediately over a wood burning fire. Originally the standard formula for Brazilian style barbecue was to coat meats in coarse salt.

The meat would then sit for about 30 minutes to absorb the salt before being cooked.  Later a salt-water baste was used to keep meats moist during the open fire cooking process. Beef was typically never seasoned. The slow-cooked meat basted in its own juices and resulted in tender, flavorful steaks.  Poultry and lamb, however are spiced with a rich marinade the night before cooking.

The popularity of Brazilian Barbecue has lead to the founding of dozens of restaurants, popping up all over the world. Churrasco, which is also referred to as Brazilian barbeque,  is usually served “Rodizio” ou “espeto corrido” (all-you-can-eat). Waiters carry huge cuts of meat on steel spits from table to table, and carve off slices onto your plate (use the tongs to grab the meat slice and don’t touch the knife edge with your silverware to avoid dulling the edge).

Traditionally, you are given a small wooden block colored green on one side and red on the other. When you’re ready to eat, put the green side up. When you’re too stuffed to even tell the waiter you’ve had enough, put the red side up. Most churrasco restaurants (churrascarias) also serve other types of food, so it is safe to go there with a friend that is not really fond of meat. Churrascarias are definitely not vegetarian/vegan friendly restaurants and make sure that when you dine at a Brazilian BBQ steakhouse that you plan on eating lightly, if at all, before or after your meal.  This is a protein fest that’s definitely going to knock you for a loop if you’re not prepared.

Ready to get your meat on?  Take a look at a listing below of some Churrascarias to check out for yourself.

Churrascaria Riodizio Tribeca
221 W Broadway
New York, NY 10013
(212) 925-6969

Espetus Churrascaria
1686 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 552-8792

Fogo de Chao
133 N. La Cienega Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
(310) 289-7755

Picanha Brazilian Grill
501 Castor Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19149
(215) 743-4647

Tucanos Brazilian Grill
110 Central Ave SW
Albuquerque, NM 87102
(505) 246-9900

Posted by on November 3rd, 2009

288953925_8d5091bdb4At first glance, a pupusa may look like just a thick tortilla, but take a bite and you’ll get to experience the tasty treasures within. First, let’s talk a little history. Pupusas are a creation of the Pipil tribes from El Salvador.

In fact, the cooking tools used to make them were discovered after an excavation of the site of a two thousand year old native village. This particular village was buried in volcanic ash after an eruption, which meant that all household items and even food were preserved.

For the most part, pupusas stayed in El Salvador and primarily in the rural countryside, but it wasn’t until the 1950s and 1960s that Salvadorans started moving to the cities and taking the pupusa with them. Pupusas stands started to proliferate across the country and even in the neighboring areas of Honduras and Guatemala, sometimes with variations in shape, size or filling.

During the 1980s Salvadoran Civil War, Salvadorans started migrating up north and quickly established communities in major US and Canadian cities. From being just El Salvador’s national food, the pupusa is now well-known part of the the North American food landscape.

So enough history, right? Let’s talk now about what a pupusa is. Simply, a pupusa is a thick hand-made corn tortilla that is stuffed with one or more ingredients usually placed one on top of the other like cheese, fried pork meat, squash blossoms, refried beans, loroco (a vine flower) and more.

There’s also the Pupusas Revueltas where the ingredients are mixed together and for something completely different, there are the Pupusas de Arroz where the tortillas are made of rice flour instead of corn masa. Pupusas are traditionally served with a pickled cabbage relish and eaten by hand.  This El Salvoran food isn’t very big, but a couple pupusas can be quite a hearty meal and even better, they’re fairly inexpensive. Interested in trying this tasty dish? Than check out some restaurants listed below.

Atlacatl Restaurant
301 N Berendo St
Los Angeles, CA 90004
(323) 663-1404

Gloria’s Restaurant
5100 Belt Line Rd
Ste 852
Dallas, TX 75254
(972) 387-8847

Guanaco’s Tacos Pupuseria
4106 Brooklyn Ave NE
Ste 102A
Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 547-2369

La Pupusa Factory
1947 W Flagler Street
Miami, FL 33135
(305) 646-9922

Pupuseria El Salvador
3557 E. 106th St.
Chicago, IL 60617
(773) 374-0490

Posted by on October 1st, 2009

hdAre you a hot dog lover?  Do you enjoy those delicious franks cradled in a soft bun and topped with a variety of ingredients?  Perhaps, a little mustard and onions will do you.  Maybe, you’re a ketchup lover.  Then there are those times when nothing can make you happy except some chili, cheese and onions.

If you’re a Chicago hot dog lover, it’s all about the mustard, relish, dill pickle, a slice of tomato, onions and peppers.  In Los Angeles, people will actually hunt for bacon wrapped hot dogs with a squeeze of mayonaise sometimes sold by local street vendors.  But none of these hot dogs have anything on the Colombian Hot Dog.  So what is a Colombian hog dog you may ask?

Simply, it’s a Hebrew National hot dog tucked with ham and mozzarella cheese into a bun with raw onion, crushed pineapple, sprinkled with crushed potato chips and finished off with a three-squeeze-bottle pattern of catsup, mustard and mayonnaise. You’re either cringing or entranced right about now. Suffice to say that it’s almost impossible to eat this Latin American dog without smearing condiments all over your mouth, chin and possibly up all in your nose, too.

When you  first see it, you’ll be in awe because you’re not going to have any idea of where to start. You might even consider asking for a knife and fork, but come on.  Just gut it out! Half the enjoyment is the messiness.  One safe strategy that might work is to take a bite out of the top part of the hot dog, leaving a lower ledge of hot dog and bread. Then bite the lower part of the hot dog and just repeat. So what would a hot dog with all these interesting ingredients taste like? With each bite, you will taste sour, salty and sweet with both creamy, firm and crisp textures. If you’re able to find a restaurant that sells this hot dog, you’ll be in for quite an experience.

If you’d like to check out this hot dog for yourself, look below for some options!

Los Chuzos Y Algo Mas
6414 Roosevelt Ave
Queens, NY 11377
(718) 476-2017

MAO Colombian Fast Food
8438 SW 40th St
Miami, FL 33231
(305) 551-0506

Tutti Frutti
950 E Colorado Blvd, #105
Pasadena, CA 91106
(626) 793-3662

Posted by on September 8th, 2009

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