Latin American Food, I Won’t Miss You

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Very soon, we will be leaving Latin America. After spending almost three quarters of the last two years here, there are so many things about it that I will miss. The natural and diverse beauty of the land, the extreme hospitality and easy going nature of the people, just to name a couple.

There is one specific thing I will NOT miss though.  Latin American food.

I am a picky eater, and have been since I was a kid. Ask my Mom how she went toe-to-toe with me as a six year old: in a test of stubborn endurance, she put the same meal in front of me for 24 hours, trying to break my insistence that it was “gross”, and hoping hunger would finally drive me to give in and eat. I won when she realized I would rather starve then eat something I don’t like.

Fast forward almost thirty years, and I am still the same way. Since we started our travels in Bolivia, I’ve eaten a bag of Doritos for more meals then I’d like to admit, usually when my limited choices were to eat yet another empanada-ish pastry or something unrecognizable. I do branch out and try new things occasionally, but not without Pete being my taste tester first.

Pete, thankfully, will try it all with gustoiguanas and guinea pigs are some of his conquests. So, at his insistence, I am recounting some of the Latin American and Honduras food which he will miss when we leave here next month.



Beans and cheese in a tortilla. I wish I liked beans, I really do, as they are an obvious staple everywhere down here. But, I don’t.



Okay, this, I can handle. (Beef (or other meat) + rice + pastry) * deep frying = eatable. But, it is too similar to many other concoctions around Latin America. I can only take so much of it.



Not a staple in all of Latin America, but being on a Caribbean island, we are obviously surrounded by it. However, me no likey the taste of anything that swims. Pete has been loving the king crab, shrimp and conch that is easy to procure here, and he can have it allllll to himself.


Semita de Yema

A local pastry that is a much softer version of biscotti. I will admit this is pretty good, especially with yogurt and fruit for breakfast in the morning.

Semita de Yema

Rice and beans

A staple across most of Latin America, it is the main side dish on most plates from breakfast to dinner. I can usually avoid it, or at least pick through the beans, but now Pete has also started making it at home. Blech. I stubbornly go without.

Rice and Beans

If you are so inclined to partake in this dish, Pete has provided a Honduran recipe for rice and beans, given to him by our neighbor Francine, and endorsed by our traveling friends Jack & Jill.

1 cup red beans
3 tablespoons butter
1 yellow or orange pepper – chopped
1 small onion – chopped
2 cloves garlic – minced
1 chipotle pepper (optional)
1 chili pepper (or hot pepper) – minced
1 can coconut milk
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups rice
1/2 cup water

Soak the beans overnight.  In a saucepan melt butter and saute peppers and onions over medium heat until translucent. Add chili pepper and garlic and saute for another 1-2 minutes. Add beans, chipotle pepper and 1/2 cup water. Turn to medium-high heat and simmer for 10 minutes (ensure that there is enough moisture to keep boiling). Add the coconut milk, salt,  chili powder, garlic powder, and rice.  Mix in 1/2 cup water and simmer until rice is cooked. When the rice is cooked let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.

There are a few things I will miss, namely the fruit! The gloriously fresh (and cheap) fruit! Growing up in an area of the world where so much of it is unavailable, or expensive, sure makes me appreciate it here.

Apple Bananas
Apple Bananas

But overall, I’m looking forward to what we will find over the Atlantic, starting with the Emerald Isle.  Potatoes and Guiness, anyone?


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  1. oh yummmmmmmmm!!! I will definitely be trying the rice. Maybe you could get the recipe for some of those other things too please. 😉


  2. Dalene! I am so bummed you don’t like any of the foods above. I absolutely love all of the foods you don’t. I was dazzled by the variety of beans available here. I’ve bought so many freshly picked beans directly from the farmers at the markets that I’ve never seen before, it has been incredible. We love all the variety of seafood we’ve been able to try for the first time, all quite fresh and tasty and love trying all the typico dishes available. (I’ve even added a lot of new things to my cooking repertoire.)
    I agree with you though on the fruit.. 🙂 🙂

    1. Yes, I know, I am a disappointment to many (including Pete)! What can I say? I like what I like. And I’ve been surviving quite fine! 🙂

    1. I don’t even really like Doritos either, but they became a staple for me on long bus rides around South America, as the lesser of evils. And I can’t WAIT to get to Italy for that exact reason – the food!

  3. You are killing me, Dalene. This puts a dent in our travel twin-dom, as I love trying the food in new places almost as much as the people and landscape. Warren is much more like you in that he has some rules about about his food.

    We are heading to Scotland in a week and I’m already planning to try the haggis while there. In the right setting – and with the right beverage and company – almost any food can be delicious.

    Looking forward to meeting up soon and teaming up with Pete to gross you and Warren out with our culinary adventures!

    1. That ALMOST sounds like a challenge for Warren and I to attempt to gross you and Pete out by finding some off the wall food for you both to try! Game on, sista! Pete is a step ahead of you in trying haggis – at “culture day” at the school we are volunteering at, one Scottish dad brought it in. Pete liked it!

  4. I thought it was traveler law to try new things. Rice and Beans? That’s so easy. Everyone loves rice and beans. Actually, you may be the first to not like rice and beans. You should look that up. Might be reward for that somewhere.

    I will be much more patient with my son when he tosses his dinner tonight. “Well Sam, at least you like rice and beans.”

    Ok, I’ll back off. I got to get some lunch.

    1. “Traveler law”? I am aware of no such law, and besides, those silly things are made to be broken! I am adventurous in other regards – I’ve jumped off of mountains and swam with sharks, and I am completely okay with my choices! 🙂 Tell Sam I will stand in solidarity with him! 🙂

  5. I could not agree with this anymore. When I first started eating the rice and beans in CR and Nicaragua I was like: “Oh this is great. I’ve never had rice and beans that were so good.” Well now, I haven’t been able to touch it. I did not miss it and I had like a burger 3 times over the weekend when I returned to the states.

  6. It is hard traveling and being a picky eater. I don’t really consider myself picky until I go to Europe. They eat every single part of the outside and inside which I don’t do!

    I had to laugh though because my husband is my “beefeater” too! He tries anything that I am not sure about 🙂

    Sorry you had to suffer but maybe it was so you would appreciate potatoes and Guinness all the more!

    1. Thanks for the warning on the inside/outside dilemma! And yay for our hubbies! Pete is quite in tune to what I would like and don’t – nearly everything he recommends me to try, I do end up liking.

  7. Hehe, if Argentina and Chile are anything to go by, we will not be missing the food either. Namely the lack of variety and mayonnaise served with bread. I mean, how dare they charge us a cover for that in restaurants? I do have high hopes for Peru, though…

    1. Yes, what is UP with the mayo?? Chilean food did suck, but Argentina at least had the delicious steak, pasta, choripan, gelato, etc. etc. Lacking on the variety, but I still enjoyed it there immensely!!

  8. All that carb-filled goodness, I’d be in heaven! And tens of pounds heavier. Omnomnom!

    Those bananas are adorable.

    1. That’s a big problem down here – vegetables are scarce and rarely served with a meal. At least the fresh fruit makes up for it here! 🙂

  9. You don’t like beans?? Say it isn’t so! I could eat beans all day every day. 🙂 I’m a picky eater though too. I have gotten better as I’ve gotten older, but I still won’t try weird things while traveling so I completely understand.

    1. It is so. I like black bean sauce in Chinese food? And edamame? 🙂 So I like some beans. Just not the mushy ones served with rice! And smeared on tortillas!

  10. I have to say, I think most of that food looks awesome!! Though a few years ago I never would have said that – I was also a really fussy eater and had a similar stand-off with my mother over tomato. It wasn’t until I started travelling that my tastes started to change. So maybe by the end of the trip yours will have, too?

    And I’ve also been known to survive for a few days on a bag of Doritos alone 😀

    1. I never liked tomatoes as a kid either! But to those, I did come around. I have been a bit more adventurous after two years of traveling, but there are just some things I can’t get passed.

  11. I must say I’m not a fool for seafood either, even though I haven’t tried any latin american seafood before (not that I can recall, anyway), but I’ll have to admit that those crabs look kinda yummie 🙂
    Anyway, I will agree about the Semita de Yema – it looks great and I’m sure it tastes just the same.

    1. The smell of seafood actually makes me gag, so if Pete cooks it, he has to do the clean-up too! As my Mom says, I am a waste of space for living on a tropical island and not eating seafood. Thanks, Mom 🙂

  12. This post makes me want to book a flight to Honduras so I can eat all that food! 🙂 But sometimes you like what you like. I can’t stand the desserts that are served in many Asian cultures. To me, dessert = cake & pastry – not some licorice ball or weirdly textured thing. So I just skip dessert when I’m there!

    1. Eesh! I would feel the same way about those desserts, I am sure. Weird how different it can be – in Chile, we always started dinner with dessert because that seemed to be the only thing they could get right!

  13. I can relate. I had some questionable food in Peru, Chile and Columbia. I absolutely love Argentine empanadas though, and Brazilian buffets and brigadeiro cake. Fortunately Latin America has enough good food to balance out the less pleasant offerings 🙂

  14. Finally someone else in Latin America who doesn’t like beans! I can’t get past the texture myself and it’s so unfortunate since they are so common around here. And so healthy! Alas… at least I like rice, otherwise I’d starve haha!

  15. I could live on that stuff for a long time. We do a lot of simple black beans and rice here at home. I like to experiment with the recipe – i also jazz it up a bit more with chipotle, plus I add some cumin.

    Bean and cheese in a tortilla?… yum! And who could resist a good ceviche? What about fried plantains dipped in sour cream?

    1. Me too Don. I love the stuff and could probably eat it every day. Chipotle is one of my favorite peppers right now, gives it a little zing. And the baleadas here are the best. Love them as a mid-morning snack. Haven’t tried the fried plantains yet in sour cream. Will be doing that this weekend for sure. Cheers!

  16. What’s strange is that I’m actually getting hungry looking at your photos. So I don’t know if I can understand what you dislike about Latin food. But, food is such a personal choice that not everyone is going to like the same things. What you like is probably going to depend highly on what you ate growing up. I ate a lot the similar things you mentioned as a child and even now I tend to eat things like rice and seafood, which I find absolutely yummy! Hope you find some better food options in your next destination.

  17. Oh, I love the fruit in Latin America, especially lulo and, okay, well, most of it. I agree with you on the beans; as much as I would love to like them… not happening. But that semita de yema looks pretty tasty. I’ll have to see if I can find one of those down here in Colombia…

    1. Yes the fruit is quite amazing here. I have just discovered momones. They are difficult to find in the market and I had to ask a kid that I teach if he could get me some. He said they grow on a tree next to his house and sure enough he was good on his word and brought me a bag today. I love them! They are like a tiny little grapefruit plum. So good.

      1. Yea, momones are great. They’re pretty popular in this area. They sell them on the road side and people munch on them while driving and chuck the pits and shells out the window. There’s a technique to eating them – makes you look like a squirrel 🙂

  18. We’ve been staying with Kali’s family this past week and have been so amused by his mom’s attempts to get his younger brother to eat anything other than noodles w/ cheese and soy sauce. And while it’s funny for us (especially since the little bro loved the enchiladas I made for dinner tonight! :P), I’d hate to be in a position of responsibility for making sure a kid eats a well-balanced diet.

    All this to say that I really feel for your mom, Dalene! 😛

    1. Yes, I feel bad for her too (now, looking back on it, I was such a brat!) But I feel for Kali’s little bro too. We don’t CHOOSE to be this way… 🙂

    1. Haven’t spent enough time in Mexico to have an opinion on it, although I have a feeling I would like it. Peru was meh for me as well. Pete loved the ceviche, but all I really liked there was the coca flavored Pisco Sours. One thing I do miss though, is Argentinian steak, but I could quite make the title: “Latin American food (except for Argentinian steak) – I won’t miss you”. 🙂

      Oh, and buñuelos from Colombia – yum!

      1. We need to sit down and talk! The best Peruvian food is found in the North with conchas negras and sudado being my favourite, although they also do a great shrimp chowder in the South but I am a seafood fiend.

        I need to go back to Colombia because I grew tired of the fried food.

        I loved food in Nicaragua.

        But as far as I’m concerned Mexico’s cuisine is as complex and interesting as Italian or French and Oaxaca deserves its naming of a UNESCO culinary heritage site.

        Oh look now I’ve started ranting, I’ll stop now 🙂

        1. We kinda raced through the north, so maybe I missed out. But conchas negras is fishy = gag inducing. Sudado looks yummy, found a recipe online that we might have to try. And I have heard that about Oaxaca, we will get there someday.

          The funniest thing to me is when people, try to get me to eat something, like “Are you sure you don’t like seafood? You’ll like the way I cook it! Try it!” Haha…yes, friend, I’ve been like this for 30+ years, but YOU just convinced me, right this second! I just like what I like, and don’t like what I don’t like. Not much else I can say… 🙂

          1. Indeed I think the difference is I love beans (eating them for breakfast right now) and I love seafood.

            But what about Ecuador, the pig is sooooo good there!

            1. Me not liking beans and seafood has been the kicker here. A bummer for Pete, as when we’re cooking he doesn’t make it as much (he’s the chef in this duo), but sometimes we have our separate meals so he can indulge.

              Ecuador was alright – one of the better countries.

  19. I’ve always wondered how I would handle the food over that side of the world, being a vegetarian I might get a little sick of all the beans and rice. It doesn’t seem like there is much else. We do eat seafood though so we would love that and the fresh fruit.
    When I was on my campervan tour of Europe my girlfriends and I ate a lot of dorito sandwiches. We were on an ultra budget tour!! There is only so many doritos you can eat.

    1. Dorito sandwiches!! Never thought to put them in sandwiches – ha! I did also carry around a little jar of peanut butter in case of emergencies as well. 🙂 I’m sure you’d do fine, liking seafood and fruit. There is lots of that here!

  20. sorta with you on this one (and Ayngelina). Liked Mexico. Nicaragua was OK. Peru was good. The rest of Central America and South America (Argentina was fine also) was pretty bleh. I love Latin America, but not for the food.

    1. I love Latin America too, I just didn’t make a “love connection” with the food. 🙂 And I’m okay with that, doesn’t really change anything for me!

  21. I can’t believe you don’t like rice and beans! I would eat them all day, every day. For real. With you on the seafood bit, though. Anything that swims is a no go.

  22. Did you try pupusas in Honduras? Though I guess you wouldn’t like them because they’re made from beans 🙂 I had a really hard time getting used to the cheese, but now I love it.

    1. Have never even heard of pupusas! Just looked it up and I guess they are a Salvadoran dish, and just might not have made it out here to the island? Will ask around though. Ugh yes, the cheese I hate too. I LOVE cheese, but that is the exception.

  23. I was so pleased to read this as I am also a fussy eater. It’s quite embarrassing as a traveller as everybody expects you to be eating all kinds of exotic and different foods. I don’t eat seafood at all and I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of beans either so not sure how I’m going to cope in South America.

    1. I’ve stopped being embarrassed. And, a lot of times I just say that I’m allergic to it so that I don’t have to go through the song and dance about trying to explain why I don’t like it. 🙂

      1. That’s a great idea. I’m a picky eater too and never thought to just say I’m allergic. Good to hear there is another picky eater traveling the world (not that I’m traveling yet. yet being the key word). I do worry about finding edible food on the foreign road.

        1. You’ll always find something Bree, even if it’s just a bag of Doritos 🙂 I have to start learning “I am allergic” in all the new languages I’m going to encounter over in Europe!

  24. I’m not a big fan of Latin American food either.
    Nicole’s a vegetarian and usually sticks to safe foods like pizza and sandwiches. I’m more adventurous but must admit that food in Central and South America is underwhelming. So is the beer.
    That said, the UK is not known for its food either – but if you like steak and potatoes you should be fine!
    At least the beer is fantastic 😉

    1. YES, I can’t wait for dark lager. The beer here is frankly….piss. Overall, I have really enjoyed the cuisine in Latin America and will miss it. I love rice and beans. Love the beef here, Honduran is some of the best we have had in all of our travels (worst was Chile). And the seafood, I can never get enough. I am really hoping that I can come up with some creative recipes with potatoes 😉

  25. I love those apple bananas we ate in your yellow housesitting house!!
    Hey, that pollo pastelitos is one of my favorite. In the airport when leaving Roatan (remember that we planned to take ferry, but the dock was caught in fire), I ate 3 of them, because it was the first time I found them and loved it and afraid I will miss it.

    1. Pastelitos are one of the things I liked the least, not a big fan of deep fried food. Although, I really enjoyed Salteñas in Sucre, Bolivia. And yep, our gardener keeps bringing us apple bananas. Earlier this week he brought a bread fruit and I have no idea what to do with it. Supposedly you can make flour out of it and make bread. Not a clue how.

      1. yea… bad habit, i love deep fried food 🙁 I usually only eat the skin part of the chicken from KFC. That tells a lot.
        What is bread fruit? Is it a kind of fruit? That will be awesome if you guys make the flour then bread from it, could be a great blog post 😀

  26. When I was a kid, I used to be very picky! Now that I am older, I like a lot more stuff than I used to and even love some things I used to hate! I like seafood, rice, and beans, and other things you don’t. However, I just don’t like Mexican food. That’s not a very popular opinion here in California but I didn’t grow up with it and there is just a certain flavor that I don’t like!

    1. Yeah, some people grow out of it, and I have with some foods too. I never used to like tomatoes, but now I love them. I don’t think I’ll ever get over seafood though – anything fishy smelling makes me gag. 🙁

  27. I HATE HATE HATE HATE BEANS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hate em I hate I hate em and chilli and things like that! Yuck!
    But I would probably like everything else that you had 🙂
    I was an extremely picky child too but have begun to like things that I never use too

    When you go to Ireland you must must must go to the Guinness Storehouse (of course) the best Guinness I’ve ever had!

    1. Okay, I think you *might* hate beans more than I do. Just a guess. 🙂

      Yes, I am getting ready for the diet of Guinness. I think I can handle that one!

  28. Aww I absolutely love Brazilian and Argentinian food, I haven’t tried all Latin America though. On another note, I definitely DO NOT miss Irish food, which, apart from the stew, I kind of fail to understand what it comprises 😛
    Let’s say I’ll just save the salmon, it was delicious!

    1. I’ve never particularly been much of a stew person either, but maybe because I never had much of it growing up. I am sure I will have my fill while we are there! I’m definitely looking forward to the change (obviously!)

    1. Me too Mike. I love it all, and eat it all. I try to Dalene she is missing out, but she says she’s doing just fine not eating these. Her loss 😉

  29. Sooo with you on the rice and beans thing, Dalene. I went through a long period of being off rice altogether. It’s one of the things that puts me off extended travel in LatAm — all that rice and beans.

    1. Yeah, the rice gets tired fast too. And picking through the beans to get to the rice is one of my least favorite activities. 🙁

  30. I was unimpressed with the majority of food options that were available in Central America (especially while traveling on a budget), but I’ve found the food in Mexico, Argentina and Uruguay to be fantastic, especially in the big cities!

  31. The majority of Latin American food are so delicious except for the exotic meals that are gross: pig feets, tongue, brain, stomach lining soup, sea turtle, iguana, etc.

  32. The food in Latin America, is seriously terrible. I feel like garbage all the time because everything is fried. I haven’t seen a vegetable that isn’t onion or cilantro in so long!! I’ve got 4 months total to travel Central America and already after 1 month I feel weak and sick. At the moment, I feel as if it is impossible that anyone could like Kale as much as I do when I’m eating it in my dreams!

    I am continuously frustrated by each meal. You can pay hardly anything for a meal on the street and feel really terrible afterwards or you can head into an expensive restaurant looking for something healthier and find yourself with the exact same options, feeling the exact same way.I have not experienced one good meal and am seriously contemplating cutting my trip short for the sake of my health.

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