Traditional Latin American Food Guide Pyramid
Source: © Oldways Preservation & Exchange Trust
The Latin American Diet
The dietary habits of Latin America - which includes countries in South America and North America whose inhabitants speak a Romance language (usually Spanish or /Portuguese) are extremely diverse. Latin American meals and eating habits are influenced not only by locally grown foods, but also by cultural and culinary traditions from Spain (Argentina), Portugal (Brazil), Africa (Brazil, Haiti, West Indies) and indigenous Indians (Brazil). Thus, there is no single Latin American diet, menu, or recipe.
Common Latin American Diet Foods
Argentine diet and cooking is heavily influenced by their huge meat industry, with beef and pork preferred to fish. Both wheat and corn are consumed in the Argentinian diet, and recipes commonly include soybeans and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Brazilian eating habits and diet recipes vary from province to province. In the plantation area, north along the coast, eating habits are influenced by African culinary traditions. Traditional dishes include vatapa - made of rice flour, coconut oil, fish and shrimps, red peppers and many condiments. Other provinces of Brazil have differing diet recipes and eating habits according to whether fish or beef is available, while grains such as rice and corn (maize) appear on most Brazilian menus, as do a variety of beans, vegetables and fruit. Brazil's national dish - feijoada completa - consists of a bed of rice with black beans, sausages, beef tongue, spare ribs, and dried beef, sprinkled with toasted manioc meal and garnished with slices of orange. Mexican dietary and cooking habits are based around corn (maize). Ground into meal, it is used to prepare corn pancakes known as tortillas. These form the basis for enchiladas, tostadas and quesadillas. Meat and fish is less common in Mexican eating habits.
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