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South American Cuisine : The Food Culture in South America

Updated on March 14, 2011

South American Cuisine : The Food Culture in South America

South America comprises the following countries : Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay. Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela. The two added territories are Falkland Island (UK) and Guyana (France). Maybe, some of us will remember this part of the world wherein some of the most beautiful spots and ladies do come from. It is a region rich in biodiversity and rich in culture of their own, unique and mold by the traditions and many years of transformations and culture influences from some European countries, Africans, native and North American culture. The food culture is a good part of the overall package to look into.

It will be interesting to see what kind of food culture these nations have and what culinary types people eat. I am always fascinated by the culture, traditions of different places and that lead me to do some research about these part of the world, South American region, and food is always a part and parcel of culture, so come and join me in discovering about their food culture.

South American countries, gained independence early on the 19th century from European colonizers (Spain and Portugal) but Falkland Island and the Guyana part are still colonies until now, by UK and France. Most of the culture is affected by many years of colonization, languages -- Spanish and Portugal and of course intermarriages and the food culture.

Location of South America and Topography

In the history book, America was discovered by Amerigo Vespucci, a French navigator and when he stepped on South America first in the 15th century he thought that this is a new world differentiated from India and the Old world -- Europe, and of course America was named after him. He was correct and he landed first in South America.

Location of South America :

  • South America is altogether bounded by the North America. and large oceans like the Pacific and the Atlantic, plus the Caribbean Seas. It is located below mostly of the Southern hemisphere.

Factors that affect food choices and food culture :

  • Traditions mold by culture and colonizers impact : Colonizers like Spaniards and Portuguese made an impact in the culture of South Americans, -- food culture and traditions plus their topography and climate affects food choices because of kinds of food the weather produced.
  • In terms of size, South America is the fourth largest continent. South America were colonized by different colonizers from Old World and this factor made an impact in their food culture. Brazil for instance was colonized by the Portuguese, so their language is Portuguese.
  • Most of the countries were colonized by the Old World colonizers like Spain, so most of them speak Spanish. The Spaniards colonized some parts of the world in search of the food spices. Most of South American countries speak Spanish as their main language.


Brazil which is a large country is very rich in bio diversity, other countries in South America are along the coastlines, and belong to Andes region like the Bolivia and Peru which partakes guinea pigs.

Kinds of food in South America

Within the country in South America are diverse and distinct but mostly the region because of its diverse sub tropic and tropical climate produced variations of root crops, rice, beans, seafoods and animal agriculture like beef which is very famous. Most meat like chicken pork and beef are usually part of meal.

Sancocho is popular -- a soup made from meat and veggies in a broth.

Empanada - pastry meal is a dish mostly of the region, this is a Spanish dish

Beef is mostly part of the meal specially in Argentina

Potatoes are popular in some areas.

Quinoa is distinct in the region

Chicken, pork and meat are generally consumed in the region whereas in some countries which are along the coast, they partake seafoods a lot

Maize and peppers are mostly diverse and is distinct and originated in the region

Cassava as a root crop is famous -- as a staple food of mostly South Americans

Brazil produced tropical fruits which are mixed with foods acai is a controversial fruit and is well known in the country

Fruits which are subtropical and tropical are mostly found in South America

Chile -- Available subtropical foods and fruits are maize, olive chirimonya fruit and lucuma fruit ---- very nutritious subtropics fruits, Ugni molinae -- endemic shrub and Quinoa -- healthy seed. Chile is along the coastline so some foods are mainly seafoods like cod, tuna, albacore, crab, clams etc.

Peru is considered the spot for generic variations of different crops. There is differentiation of cuisines in Peru because the climate is diverse. Bolivia also partakes guinea pigs like Peru.

There is also variations of ceviche in the region -- which is citrus marinated seafoods

Argentina (large exporter of beef) 
asado (Barbecued) , foods from beef, steak and ribs are food they mostly prefer sausages are also preferred, mollejas -- sweet bread, empanada -- pastry meat is mainly famous, carlitos -- a brunch is also popular,
chourico (spicy sausage), meat preserved and dried -- caruru, beans combined with rice is most common, there are also fishes, porks and different beans , feijoada (combi of meat plus bean dish) -- because of its tropical weather produced fruits which are mixed with dishes like papaya, mango, pineapple, acai, there are reginal variations and differentiations because of its topography and wide areas 

Argentina cuisine is mostly from beef -- they love asado means grill

Feijoada, Brazilian food stew combi of beef, beans and pork

Photo: is credited to gildemax in wikipedia, thanks
Photo: is credited to gildemax in wikipedia, thanks
Main Food
agricultural produced includes maize, quinoa, potato are part of cuisine, ensaladas, tortillas, seafoods are mainly popular as they are in the coast;ine of Pacific like eels, cod, albacore, tuna, clams, oysters, crabs, asada, empanada -- pastry, there are reginal variation in their meals, oyster soup and clam stew are popular 
fritanga -- grilled meat or sausage. they eat meat like beef, chicken pork and fishes. Rice and corn grains plus root crops are familiar part of cuisne plus potatoes and cassava, ajiaco soup is popular -- combi of some herbs, vegetable soup and chicken, Tamales, -- steamed corn cake is popular and abnana fruit is popular, sancocho -- corn, potatoe and spices to form a soup 
Guinea pig is eaten in thie Andes region ciuntry, they eat beans, corn and potatoes, rice and wheat, meat like the basic- beef, pork and chciken, chuflay -- mixed drink, humitas as snack -- potato filled with other ingredients Peanut soup (Sopa de Mani) -- a soup made of peanuts, cabbage plus chickpeas, 

Asado Chileno (barbecue)

Arepa asada bread made of corn -- Popular in Colombia

Roast guinea pig is a part of Bolivia cuisine

Main Food
Peruvian cusine staples are corn, beans and potatoes, Quinoa, chili and some root crops are also part of their cusine, tomatoes, bean and peanut are mostly used  
sopa paraguaya -- like corn bread, manioc or cassava -- like yuca crop, chipa -- bread made form cornmeal,many dishes consists of corn kernels and other ingredients such as  onions, cheese, bell peppers,

Peruvian anticucho made form beef heart marinated with spices with corn and potatoes on the side

Ceviche del Peru -- citrus marinated food from Peru

Sopa paraguaya -- cornbread in Paraguay part of meal

Main Food
there is regional variations of food preference -- people from the mountains prefer rice, potatoes etc and meat while those in the coastline prefer seafoods, typical meal consists of soup and rice in a plate, rice, corn, potatoes, beef, fabesca -- fish soup served during Lenten, Colada morada -- fruit beverage, guaguas de pan -- bread and is shapd like a chicken, chicken and pork inluding guinea pigs are basic in their menu, version of cherrasco, eeg with avocado, beef steak and rice 
asado barbecue, version of empanada -- pastry, Hungara -- a sausage, steak which is breaded -- Milanesa, chopped emat -- pastel de la carne, faina -- thin bread, pastas and pizzas are popular dishes 
they love pasta, corn, rice, yam, potato, seafoods, beef is popular and other meat like lamb, tomatoes, onions, eggplants and lettuce are familiar part of menu, plus squash 

Ecuadoarian version of churrasco -- fried rice with beef steak avocado, egg and tomatoes and french fries -- nutritious

image is courtesy of
image is courtesy of

Uruguay asado (barbecue)

Pabellón Criollo -- national food of Venezuela -- consisting of rice, beef and beans


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    • Loren's Gem profile image

      Loren's Gem 

      9 years ago from Istanbul, Turkey

      Whew! What a hub! It makes me crave those grilled stuffs in there! Got to go, I'm really hungry now, though thanks for sharing this wonderful hub! :-)

    • rprcarz50 profile image


      9 years ago


      Thank you so much for this delicious Hub ! Great and useful information . You had my mouth watering .

      Very nice work !


      As always also a2z50

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 

      9 years ago

      Great info! Yep- I'm hungry!

    • gracenotes profile image


      9 years ago from North Texas

      It makes me hungry! Nice hub and good pictures.


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