If there is one thing that connects human beings from different cultures together, it is this: cuisine. In fact, it is not a stretch to say that food is what of the primary threads that has connected human beings to each other for centuries.
We love to eat food, we love to see what other people eat, and share our own traditions and recipes with one another. Food is an important link that we share in the present and have shared in the past—as a famous 19th century historian once said, “a time from which we do not have a dinner menu … is a time dead to us, an irrevocable time.”
It should come as no surprise that many travelers are now considering food one of the top priorities on their international vacations.
Some people enjoy sampling international cuisine so much that they actually plan “food vacations,” where they specifically travel from region to region to try out local cuisine. And one of these popular “cuisine destinations”? South America.
While you may or may not travel to South America solely for the food, one thing is clear: the cuisine is delicious, varied, and sometimes even exotic. Let’s take a look at some of the most well-known (and even unusual) foods offered in South America.
Let’s start off with what is often considered the most unusual: Cuy. Cuy, better known as genie pig, is a dish enjoyed in many places throughout South America. It is most popular near the Andes Mountains, where it has been a staple of the Andean diet for many years.
Native Venezuelans are also known to enjoy cuy (as well as several other interesting foods); in this region, it is typically fried and served with a spicy and savory sauce, along with side dishes such as rice or sliced vegetables. While some travelers may have difficulty seeing past the role of a guinea pig as a pet in their culture, it is definitely something travelers interested in really experiencing local cuisine should try at least once.
This is another popular ingredient that is especially popular near the Andes Mountains. Alpaca meat is highly valued for its nutritional value and it was once considered so highly prized that only Incan nobility could hunt and eat it. Today it is still considered a delicacy in many Andes Mountains areas.
Alpaca can be prepared in a variety of different ways; first-timers to the meat are probably better off with lightly seasoned meat to fully taste the flavorful aroma that alpaca offers.
Corn beer has been a staple of the Andes Mountains region for thousands of years. The earliest records of corn beer date it back to Incan times!
Travelers looking for corn beer should look for bamboo poles flying red flags (or red bags) outside of local buildings—this means corn beer is available for purchase inside. The beer is a “must” for travelers who want a taste of real South American cuisine.