Different Names for Food Items in Spanish (Part 1)

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There are as many names for the same food items as cultures throughout the Spanish-speaking world. And if you are a foodie like I am or you just like to cook, it becomes key to know how those ingredients are called in different parts of the Americas and the Iberian Peninsula.

What follows is just the first part of a comprehensive list that gathers the name variations of common food ingredients in this part of the world and that might come in handy when preparing a traditional Latin American recipe.



This delicious fruit that originated in Southern Mexico, and which is a key ingredient in the famous Mexican guacamole and the Venezuelan guasacaca, is known as palta in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Peru, and Uruguay, while in the rest of the Spanish-speaking countries (including Spain) it is better known as aguacate.



This sweet and popular fruit first cultivated in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific is commonly known as banana or banano in most Spanish-speaking countries. However, this fruit is best known as plátano in Mexico, Cuba, and Peru; guineo in El Salvador, Chile, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic, and cambur in Venezuela.



This taproot that is not only delicious and nourishing but also a very useful food coloring is known as remolacha in most Latin American countries. In Mexico it is also known as betabel and in Chile and Peru it is called betarraga. An interesting fact about this plant is that it first consumed and cultivated in the Mediterranean Basin.


Chili pepper

Originated in Mexico and widely used in many cuisines around the world, chili peppers are a great resource to add a spicy taste to all kinds of dishes. This food item is commonly known as ají picante in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela. In Mexico, where it is a fundamental ingredient, it is generally known as chile, although there are many varieties. It is worth mentioning that in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua you can find them as chilis, whereas in Panama they are called chambos.



This cereal grain that originated in Mexico, became a staple food throughout the Americas and is now widely cultivated in the rest of the world, is known as choclo in Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, and Uruguay, while it is known as elote in Mexico, mazorca en Colombia, and jojoto en Venezuela. If you can’t remember these names, don’t worry! You can always call it maíz in any of those places.


Green bean

In the Americas, green beans are known by many different names. In Mexico and Central America, it is commonly known as ejote; in Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay it is called chaucha; in Colombia, Cuba, Panama, and Spain it is typically known as habichuela; in Chile they are called poroto verde; while in Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela it is known as vainita.


Spring onion

This plant, which is very famous in the Asian cuisine, has a bunch of different names according to the country you travel to. In Argentina and Uruguay it is called cebolla de verdeo. In Colombia and Ecuador it is best known as cebolla verde, cebolla larga or junca, while in Bolivia, Chile, El Salvador, Mexico, and Venezuela it is commonly known as cebollín or cebolla cambray. Interestingly, Peruvians like to call it cebollita china, and in Panama, Costa Rica, and Honduras it is rather called cebollino.


Stay tuned for the next food list! ?


All images taken from Pixabay.


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