All eyes on Chile after the dramatic mine rescue and let’s not forget last year’s earthquake that devastated the region south of the capital, it’s an appropriate time to examine Santiago’s blossoming food scene. A new wave of talented chefs, from within Chile and from abroad, are rapidly changing the city’s culinary landscape. There is renewed in old markets and indigenous Mapuche ingredients, while wine bars and bistros are transforming once decrepit districts into cool new food hoods.
Sure Quito is home to 500-year-old church or two, though most don’t realize it’s also one of the centers of the world’s chocolate industry. Ecuador’s Arriba Nacional cacao bean is the most sought after the world over and Quito chocolate shops, cafes, and activities have become a point of reference for chocolate lovers:
Cartagena’s dining scene has improved drastically in the past year, rivaling Bogota and other much larger metro areas in South America, with several much-hyped openings outside of Daniel Castaño’s Vera. Write ups in the New York Times, Vogue, and elsewhere have proven that the city’s restaurants deserve the attention. In fact Cartagena has always bee great food destination, even before it became the darling of the jetset. It has long benefitted from Colombia’s distinct range of ingredients and the rather diverse population. It was my first ever stop in South America and it will forever remain in my culinary consciousness for that reason.
It took a trip to Fiesta Gourmet in Lima to realize I needed to spend more time exploring the food of Peru’s Northern Coast. It was the Arroz con Pato a la Chiclayana to be exact. It’s the restaurants most popular dish and quite possibly my favorite dish in Peru. What intrigued me was that it mentioned the town of Illimo, outside of Chiclayo, as the source of the cilantro, an ingredient equally as important in the dish as the duck or rice, though it lacks the headliner status.
Defining ‘Latin America’ can be a difficult process for those who don’t fully know what it consists of. Generally speaking, most of South America is included within Latin America (aside from Guyana and Suriname.) In addition to South America, most of Central America and the Caribbean are included as well as Mexico. What defines Latin America is that all of the countries speak a derivative of the Romance languages (Spanish, Italian and some French.)
The largest city in the world not connected by roads is a hotbed of interesting restaurants and markets. Peru’s Amazonian capital is a good place to sample the oddities and range of the region’s fruits, vegetables, meats, and traditional plates along with several rather bizarre takes on North American restaurants.
The Latino community in North Brooklyn – Greenpoint and Williamsburg – is mostly Puerto Rican, but in regards to restaurants the fare extends to all corners of Latin America.
The Riviera Maya on the Caribbean coast of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula is more traditionally thought of as dead space for the adventurous foodie. Most assume that, like Cancun, it’s filled with American chain restaurants and overpriced resort food. To some extent that’s true, but there is also some excellent street food, regional restaurants not aimed at tourists, and a growing group of internationally trained chefs that are utilizing the products of the Yucatan.
The food scene in Quito, Ecuador isn’t as glamorous as Buenos Aires, not as trendy as Bogota, nor as original as Lima. It’s often overlooked by South American foodies, though Quito should be considered among the top food scenes on the continent. There are brilliant chefs here doing interesting things with the diverse little country’s many endemic ingredients (try Red Tuna in any form). Even the chain restaurants, backpacker dives, snack shops, street stalls, and markets are inimitable. Here’s a round up of Quito, Ecuador’s food scene:
Pucallpa, in the Peruvian Amazon, is where the highway ends. From here the roadless expanse of the Amazon begins, extending far into Brazil. Fruits and vegetables arrive to the city from the Rio Ucayali and its tributaries and, what is not consumed here directly, are then filtered by road into the rest of Peru. While Pucallpa does not have a massive tourist lure (though there are a few tourists that make it here, mostly Peruvians), there is a considerable amount of interesting things going in and around the city, especially for the adventurous Foodie.