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The tastiest typical foods in South America

Something we’re certainly going to miss when we eventually (though who knows when?!) leave LatAm is the food. South America is full of crazy-tasty recipes, with some foods we’d never have imagined together turning out to be b-e-a-utiful. This is a list of our top South American typical foods to try if you ever find yourself in this region.


Beef steak in Argentina

Need we even write this?! Argentina’s reputation for steaking is extremely well-earnt. Other than the odd splash of chimichurri, Argentinian steak is usually served up with little more than salt – they don’t need anything to make it taste any better! Our favourite cuts in Argentina were Bife de Lomo and Bife de Chorizo for a juicy, thick slab.

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Arepas in Colombia

These are similar to stuffed pita bread, except the food-vessel is made of maiz/corn (hello, gluten-free) and they don’t waste half as much space on salad. Alhough a basic arepa will just be buttered with one meat, a good arepa will contain a mix of meats, butter, some veggies like onion or carrot, sometimes cheese and then a sauce of your choice – often guacamole, garlic mayo or salsa golf (we’d describe it as a shrimp cocktail sauce sort of taste – like a mix between mayo and ketchup). Our favourite arepas of all time were from a street stand on a motorway bridge in Cali. It’s unfortunate that in all of our searching we never found anything to even come close to this beautiful parcel of pulled pork, pulled chicken, beef brisket, avocado, quail egg and veg!

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Papas rellenas in Colombia

Minced beef rolled up inside a ball of potato and then deep-fried, think of this as a hot, potatoey Scotch egg. You typically only get these from street stalls, so the good news is they’re cheap as chips (cheaper, actually).

Ceviche in Peru

While there are many different styles of this across other nations in Latin America (with Central American countries adding tomato sauce or even cheesy doritos), our favourite without doubt was the tangy citric taste of Peruvian ceviche. This typical food consists of chunks of raw white fish (though it can be made with other ingredients such as shrimp) which are ‘cooked’ by the citric acid in lemon juice and served up with vegetables also mixed in the lemon.

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Empanadas in Argentina

Mostly found across the lower half of South America, but a fried version pops out again in the North. In Argentina, they take on the style of a Cornish pasty from England – a half-moon of thick pastry filled with meat and veg – Lozzy’s favourite was carne dulce (beef mince with raisins), whereas Andy is a fan of the chicken varieties. Empanada varieties in Argentina tend to be a lot more complicated than the single-ingredient styles of Uruguay and Chile.

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Mango ceviche in Colombia

Colombia is getting some good airtime in this post. A twist on the traditional fish ceviche, Colombians soak mango strips in lemon juice and salt. Honey is then sometimes poured over the top. A delicious blend of sweet and bitter!
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Queso Helado in Peru

Quite literally ‘frozen cheese’. With the consistency of ice cream, you can almost trick yourself into thinking this is the real thing. Variants include adding cinnamon (‘canela’) to make it more dessert-like.

Anticuchos in Bolivia

Although native to Peru, the tastiest places we had this were street stalls in Bolivia. This is typically strips of grilled beef heart covered in an amazing gravy-like sauce and served up with potatoes. Don’t be put off by the ingredients list; this dish is delish!

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Last Updated on 2 June 2020 by Cuppa to Copa Travels

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