When you’re learning a language to travel, one of the most important topics is definitely la comida (the food). You need to eat to survive, and you need to learn the local language to understand the menu and order. Don’t be that gringo who ends up eating at McDonald’s every day because you’re too scared to visit el mercado (the market) to try local food! We’re here to help you order food like a boss through these 11 tasty posts about food in Spanish.
Cuisine From Spanish Speaking Countries
Cuando viajo, me gusta probar la comida local (When I travel, I like to try local food). Whether it’s some ceviche in Peru, empanadas in Colombia, or a bowl of pozole in Mexico, I love the food of Latin America.
Of course, you want to know the names of local dishes before you hit the streets in search of something tasty. I’m here to help through a series of posts introducing the cuisine from Spanish speaking countries. Bookmark these posts before you travel to any of these countries so you know what to eat!
Colombia: Arepas, empanadas, buñuelos, ajiaco, bandeja Paisa
Peru: Ceviche, lomo saltado, ají de gallina, causas, rocotto relleno
Mexico: Mole, birria, aguachile, tortas ahogadas, chiles en nogada
After reading those posts, I’m sure you’ll be ready to drop everything and book a flight just to go try all the delicious food mentioned in them. I’ll have similar posts on the cuisines of Ecuador, Chile, and Guatemala soon, so get excited!
Speaking of la comida mexicana (Mexican food), I’m sure you’re familiar with the country’s most famous dish. I’m talking of course about the almighty taco! Who needs Taco Tuesday when it can be Taco Every Day?!
If you’re from north of the border, you may think of a taco as a hard shell with ground beef, lettuce, cheese, and sour cream. While this is the version of the Mexican classic popularized by fast food chains like Taco Bell, this is far from a traditional taco, amigos! Mexican tacos are typically served with two soft corn tortillas. For a closer look at this topic, check out Karoly’s post titled “Should Mexican Tacos Be Crispy?“.
If you want cheese on it, well then that’s no longer a taco – it’s a quesadilla! You know, because there’s queso in it. While we’re on the topic of cheese, you might as well check out Karoly’s mouth-watering post called “Mexico and Its Cheeses.” You’ll learn about the history of cheese in Mexico, a few types of typical cheeses, and some of the best cheese-filled dishes in the country.
You won’t find shredded lettuce or sour cream on a real Mexican taco, either. Rather, they’re typically served with white onion, cilantro, and a variety of salsas. For a more detailed look at Mexico’s most famous export, read my post “Me Encantan Los Tacos (I Love Tacos).”
One of the best ways to sample tacos in Mexico is by joining a food tour. I did just that in my home away from home of Puerto Vallarta and put together this little video for you called “Todos los Tacos” (All the Tacos). Check it out, but be warned – your mouth will be watering after this one!
Now I’ve got a very important question for you…
¿Cuál es tu taco favorito? (What’s your favorite taco?)
With so many great choices this is a tough one. If I have to choose just one, though, I’d say… Mis tacos favoritos son al pastor (My favorite tacos are al pastor).
Different Names for Food Items in Spanish
One thing that might trip you up when you travel and eat in Spanish speaking countries is that there are different names for food items in different countries. I remember being so confused in Peru when I was told that palta means avocado, as I had already learned to use the word aguacate in both Mexico and Colombia!
You can avoid this kind of confusion by reading over the two excellent posts that Anais wrote earlier this year:
Can you think of any other examples of food items that have different names between countries? We’d love it if you left some in the comments below!
Shopping for Food
Of course, you’re not always going to go out to eat. Sometimes it’s nice to stay home and cook. I don’t know about you, but… ¡Me gusta mucho cocinar! (I really like to cook!). In order to stock your cocina (kitchen), you’ll need to do a bit of shopping en español.
Thankfully, our amazing blogger Laura has you covered with her excellent beginner listener series:
You can also follow along with her video on our YouTube channel for more practice:
Well there you have it, amigos! I’m sure you’re super hungry after reading this post. At least now you should be able to shop for and order food in Spanish with more confidence! ¡Buen provecho!
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