Common Foods in Spanish Speaking Countries

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Foods in Spanish-speaking countries vary.
Foods in Spanish-speaking countries vary. (Image: mexican food image by petar Ishmeriev from Fotolia.com)

There are 21 countries in the world where people speak Spanish as their primary language. These include Spain in Europe; Equatorial Guinea in Africa; Mexico in North America; and Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean. The majority of Spanish speakers live in both Central and South America, in countries such as Honduras, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Chile. There are a number of traditional, common foods served in these countries, each with its own distinct flavor and taste.

Pupusas

Pupusas are traditionally served in El Salvador, although different variations of the dish can be found in other Spanish-speaking countries, as well as in the U.S. Pupusas were the invention of an indigenous people called the Pipils. A pupusa is a mixture of ground corn, mixed with a liquid and kneaded into dough. The dough, called “masa de maíz,” is then sectioned and flattened by hand, and made into tortillas. The tortillas are fried or baked and stuffed with cheese, beans or a variety of meats, such as pork, beef or chicken.

Chicharrones

Chicharrone is a dish common to Spain and Andalusia, where it originated. However, chicharrones are eaten in most Spanish-speaking countries. They are sometimes referred to by different names, and served in a variety of different ways. For example in Mexico, chicharrone is served in a taco or gordita. In Chile it is considered a side dish and is cooked as a type of fritter, called tortillas con chicharrones. Chicharrones are traditionally made with pork, but can also be made with other meats as the main ingredient, depending on the country. Seasoned meat is cut into long strips and either fried or baked until crispy, and served with a number of condiments.

Cuy

Cuy, otherwise known as guinea pig, was eaten frequently by the Incas in Peru, and was often prepared and reserved only for royalty and special guests. Today, cuy is still a common dish in Peru, especially in the Peruvian mountains where the animals are raised as domestic food. It is considered to be a great honor to be served guinea pig as a guest. Guinea pigs are served in a number of ways as a main dish--roasted, fried and baked whole, or cut into pieces and stir-fried.

Barbacoa

Barbacoa is a traditional dish in Mexico. It is commonly eaten for breakfast. According to Joy Adapon, author of "Culinary Art and Anthropology," Barbacoa is a “fiesta food” that is prepared by particular individuals or families who specialize in its preparation. Barbacoa is made using the head of a cow. The head, or cabeza, is cleaned and prepared after the eyes and ears have been removed. It is then seasoned, mixed with various vegetables and placed in a large pot to be left to simmer for several hours. Sometimes barbacoa is still cooked the traditional way by burying it in the ground on a bed of hot embers and leaving it to cook for several days.

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