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Eat your way around South America

fruit vendor
peru - cerviche
Bolivia - isla del sol boys
Bolivia La Paz in witches market

Eat your way around South America

story by: House of Travel

Travel broadens the mind - and the taste buds.

Aside from the amazing sights and fascinating people, one of the best parts of travelling has got to be the food. As you move around the world, you'll be exposed to a range of weird, wonderful and exotic dishes that the locals regard as boring as your beans on toast. From the wines of Europe to kangaroo steaks in Australia and balut (fertilised duck eggs) in the Philippines, the world's cuisine is as diverse as the cultures that inhabit it.

South America might not have the same gastronomic reputation as, say, Italy or Japan, but that's not to say that the continent is lacking when it comes to great cuisine. The food you'll find in South America is typically fresh, locally grown and filling. Being sandwiched between the South Pacific and the South Atlantic means there's always an abundance of great seafood, while in Brazil and Argentina you'll find some of the best red meat on the planet.

Getting hungry? Good. Start planning your holiday and check out our list of the top 10 dishes in South America.

Less of a dish and more of a way of life, "churrasco" is Brazil's interpretation of a barbecue and is something you must experience at least once in your life. Throughout Brazil you'll find countless all-you-can-eat churrasco restaurants, where waiters come around with huge skewers of tender meat and cut thick slices directly onto your plate.

Sometimes called pastels, empanadas can be found throughout South America. Similar to a burrito, a mixture of meat, cheese, veges and fruits are wrapped up in bread or pastry which is then sealed. Perfect for eating on the go, empanadas are often served at parties and festivals.

Also popular throughout the Pacific Islands, cerviche is a fish dish, but doesn't involve any heating at all! Instead the fish is marinated in citrus juice, most commonly lemon or lime, and served up with red onions, potatoes, corn and avocado. A refreshing dish for South America's hot climate.

Machas a la parmesana
Thanks to its amazingly long coastline, Chile is rightfully renowned for its delicious seafood. There are many fishy dishes to choose from, but our favourite has to be "machas a la parmesana", razor clams baked with parmesan cheese.

Like Brazil, Argentina also has a fairly carnivorous diet, and excellent beef and lamb can be found throughout the country. There's also an abundance of cheap and cheerful street food, such as the ubiquitous "choripan", which can be translated literally as chorizo and bread. This is a remarkably accurate description, but it doesn't really do justice the combination of flavours you'll taste once you bite into this delicious sandwich.

Lovers of all things cute and fluffy might want to look away here. "Cuy" - roasted or fried guinea pig - is one of Peru's most famous dishes, and is most commonly found at high altitudes in the Andes mountains. The Peruvians aren't eating cuy to impress or shock anyone - this has been a legitimate staple of their diets for many generations. You'll find cuy in both restaurants and street foods, so just dig in and embrace the experience.

Alongside the potato-like yucca, one of the most common things you'll eat during your time in Paraguay is "chipa". Shaped like a donut, this savoury bread forms a snack that can be enjoyed at any time of the day. This dietary staple is never more than a stone's throw away, and you'll find vendors selling chipa on pretty much every street in the country for a few cents each.

Choclo is an oversized corn that's loved by the locals in Bolivia. It's significantly larger than corn typically found in the western world, and the kernels have a noticeably more chewy texture. The Bolivians spice things up by lathering the choclo in salty cheese - the end product is a delicious snack that is sure to keep the wolf from the door.

If you find any of these dishes particularly tasty, you might want to consider learning how to make them yourself. In most major towns and cities you'll find a variety of cooking classes that can teach you how to cook like a local, and will allow you to take the taste of South America back home.

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