South America Food & Drink
South America is a very large continent and the type of food and ways to prepare it vary greatly throughout each country and region. Below, you’ll find some of the main staples of South American cuisine:
Corn (Maiz) / Potatoes / Tubers: Corn has been cultivated for more than 6,000 years in South America, mainly in the Andes region. Potatoes were first domesticated in South America and there are around 4,000 varieties in Peru alone! Tubers including cassava (manioc, yucca) are a main staple of diet for the people living in the Amazon.
Tropical Fruits: The Amazon Rainforest and it’s basin provides exotic edible fruits and plants for the entire continent. Fruit juices are often part of a diet in the hotter regions of South America – like Brazil and Colombia. Some of the most common fruit juices include maracuya, acai, guarana, pineapple, and mango. Plants are used widely for medicinal purposes.
Quinoa: This versatile grain can be found in the Andes regions of South America, notably in Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Peru and Ecuador. It was a daily staple of the Incans and now is considered a healthy and satisfying grain to add to almost any dish. You can find it in salads, empanadas, soups, breads and even beer! Bolivia and Peru produce 95% of commercially grown quinoa for the world.
Meat / Seafood: Argentina is world famous for their asados or barbeques which normally includes beef and pork. Red meat is a large staple of Chilean, Argentine and Brazilian diet. In the South of Chile and Argentina, lamb is more prevalent. Further North, in places like Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru, alpaca is a leaner substitute for beef. In the coastal regions and in the Amazon, fish like Sea Bass, Corvino, Mero, Trout variations and Paiche (the largest freshwater fish in the world) are heavily used in many dishes. Centolla (King Crab) is a Patagonian favorite.