20 best Spanish foods in Latin America and Spain

If you’re fortunate enough to participate in a foreign exchange program to study Spanish abroad countries like Spain or any of the beautiful Latin American countries, you might be lucky enough to taste the diverse foods available. As a foreign exchange student, you not only study the native language but you also observe and adapt to the culture, especially the traditional cooking.

Many countries in Latin America and Spain have very different types of foods. Some countries may have an abundant seafood market and they tend to have many cooking traditions based on shrimp, calamari, lobster, and other seafood. Other countries raise cattle or pork and they will tend to have many uses of the meat and accessories. The preparation of these dishes could also be the same or different from what the foreign student is used to. Many countries may use spices or other condiments to bring the flavor of certain foods. Or the cooking preparation can be part of a traditional custom special of the country.

Here, 20 typical dishes are presented that may be found in a Latin American or Spanish household.

Mexican cuisine

1.  Tortillas and Tacos – this delicious dish comprises of vegetables, meat, and cheese in a crispy or soft tortilla. The tortilla is made of corn. Traditionally, Mexican culture used a metate to make tortillas.

2.  Tamales – this is another delicious dish that uses the corn leaves and a paste of corn with other spices and meat.

3.  Enchiladas – in this delicacy, the meat and sometimes cheese is wrapped in a small tortilla. Then, these wrapped enchiladas are placed in a pan together and spread with spicy sauce. The spicy sauce is usually made of chilies or hot peppers.

Caribbean cuisine

4.  Rice and Beans – this traditional dish is mostly based on white rice and beans. It usually uses black beans.

5.  Ropa Vieja or Old Clothes – this delicious dish uses pulled pork as the basis of the plate. The pork is slowly cooked with spices until it’s tender. Tomato sauce also is used in this dish.

6.  Yuca and Plantains – yuca is a root commonly seen in Caribbean breads called Casave. The yuca is mixed with water to make a paste that turns into a flatten bread. Plantains are side dishes commonly found in Caribbean foods.

Central America cuisine

7.  Pupusas – native to El Salvador are usually made of thick corn or rice flour tortillas with chicharrones (fried pork rinds), cheese, refried beans, and sometimes loroco (an edible wild flower).

8.  Gallo Pinto – traditionally found in Costa Rica and is mostly composed of rice and black beans.

9.  Passion Fruit – a tropical fruit abundant in the Honduras coastline along with papayas and pineapples. They’re usually eaten ripe or prepared in different ways in many dishes.

10.  Seafood – it’s mostly seen in many of the main dishes.

South America cuisine

11.  Asado and Chimichurri – asado is the main dish in many South American countries composed of cattle meat and its many internal parts. These are cooked in a variety ways but mainly barbecued. A special sauce called Chimichurri is usually served with the meat. This spicy sauce is made with spices and olive oil.

12.  Flan and Dulce de Leche – a delicious custard traditionally based on condensed milk, sugar, and eggs. And usually served with Dulce de Leche, a caramel spread or sauce. Dulce de Leche is traditionally made with milk and sugar. It is also commonly known as manjar blancoarequipe, and cajeta.

13.  Arepa – commonly found in Colombia and Venezuela. It’s mostly made of corn flour and filled with cheese. It’s also served with meats, eggs, or fish.

14.  Ceviche – traditionally found in Peru. This delicious dish is composed of seafood marinated in lime or lemon juice with spices.

15.  Sopaipillas – are delicious fried pastries usually served as a dessert with powdered sugar. Also they’re known as sopapillasopaipa, and cachanga.

Spain typical cuisine

16.  Paella – a traditional main dish composed of rice, variety of seafood, and spices like saffron and paprika.

17.  Empanadas – this delicious dish is composed of a pastry stuffed with meat and sometimes eggs and vegetables. The stuffed pastry is folded in half and usually baked or fried. This dish is also found in many Latin American countries.

18.  Gazpacho – is a cold tomato-based soup served with raw vegetables. It’s usually consumed during the summer months.

19.  Jamón Serrano – is cured ham and finely cut in thin slices. It’s usually served as an appetizer with cheese, tomatoes, and olives.

20.  Turrón – is a delicious dessert or nougat made of honey, sugar, and egg whites along with almonds and nuts. Also, it’s known as torró and torrone.

Whether you’ve traveled to Spain or any of the wonderful Latin American countries, I hope that you got a chance to try some of these delicious traditional dishes.

Have you tried any of these dishes lately?

Barbara Mascareno

Barbara is an educational writer, teacher, and instructional designer. She loves to write K-12 education content, teaching strategies, bilingual education approaches, and foreign language.

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