When lots of non-Hispanic Americans think of traditionally Hispanic food, tacos probably come to mind first. Maybe Guacamole. Mayyyybe Burritos. And sure, those foods are all delicious, but that’s kind of like limiting yourself to French Fries and Belgian Waffles when it comes to European cuisine.
Hispanic countries are so diverse, so varied, and so colorful and wonderful, just like their respective cuisines. So I did a dive into some favorite HIspanic cuisines from some favorite HIspanic food bloggers to help get you (and me!) more inspired to spice things up in the kitchen and understand some of the differences.
While this doesn’t comprise every Hispanic country, region, or style of cooking, I hope you find it’s a great start.
Carne Asada recipe | Mexico in My Kitchen
If you want a good understanding of Mexican cuisine, look no further than this list of our favorite Mexican food bloggers. (Actually, you should look further! But this is a great jumping-off point.)
Considering Mexican food goes back 9000 years, it’s got a lot of variations thanks the Mayan culture, the multi-ethnic Aztec Empire influences, the16th century Spanish conquest that introduced meat, dairy and rice, and even African and Asian influences.
Eating in Chiapas, you’ll find different food than you will in Oaxaca, Veracruz, or Michoacán — where, on a visit to visit a friend in Morelia, I once had the most amazing Uchepos, or fresh corn tamales, ever. But you will find a fairly consistent use of local produce like corn, beans, squash, avocados, tomatoes, tomatillos, cacao, agave, sweet potato, cactus, and of course, chilli peppers — lots of kinds of chili peppers.
At Mexico in My Kitchen, incredibly prolific home cook and food blogger Mely Martinez shares traditional homestyle meals from the 27 different places she’s lived in México. Wow. Rest assured you’ll find everything from a simple Mexican Ground Beef recipe to a Veracruz-Style Menudo Tripe Soup (and I know that’s not for everyone.)
I think a great first dinner recipe is Mely’s Authentic Carne Asada recipe (above) which describes variations on the marinade from all different regions of Mexico. Hers starts with a good cut of flank steak, and a sweet and savory marinade primarily made of citrus, plus soy sauce, onions, pepper — and a little beer. Count me in.
Puerto Rican Food
Traditional Puerto Rican Sofrito recipe | Sazón Boricua
Growing up in and around New York City, Puerto Rico tended to be the “go-to” region when we thought of Hispanic culture and cooking. While Puerto Rico is part of the US today (something I hope we all know by now), its cooking traditions are a blend of techniques from Spain (meat, basil, sugarcane, citrus), Africa (coconuts, coffee, sesame seeds, yams and other root veggies), and local Taino influences (hot peppers, peanuts, guavas, pineapples) which blend Mayan and Caribbean traditions.
Lots of blending!
You can find a ton of traditional Puerto Rican recipes from Ilyanna’s Eat Gorda Eat, which she writes from home in Oakland. Just note it hasn’t been updated for a bit. (She’s busy working on a newspaper column and a Puerto Rican cookbook.)
I’m also liking Puerto Rican cook Jeanette Quiñones’s blog, Sazón Boricua — you’ll have to translate from Spanish if you’re an English speaker like me. Her traditional Sofrito recipe (above) is a huge hit with her readers, because it’s the basis for so many Puerto Rican dishes.
Croquetas de Jamón | Hungry Sofia
As with Puerto Rican cuisine, Cuban Cuisine borrows from native Taino food, Spanish food, and Caribbean and African food, especially when it comes to flavor and spices.
Of course lots of us can’t say no to a good Cuban Sandwich; try this one from De Su Mama inspired by her Cuban immigrant grandfather’s own recipe. But other popular dishes include Arroz con Leche, Arroz con Pollo, Camarones, Croqueta, Empanadas, Ropa Vieja (a shredded beef dish), Papa Rellena, Tamales, Fried Yuca — oh man, it’s all so good.
From everyone I know who’s been there, Cuba is definitely an eating country!
There are lots of traditional Cuban recipes compiled over at Saveur that are worth checking out.
You’ll also find plenty of mains to try at The Hungry Cuban, written by Chef Juan Montalvo. But right now, I’m kind of obsessed with Ana Sofia Pelaez’s gorgeous photography, great writing, and traditional recipes reflecting her own Cuban heritage, on her blog, Hungry Sofia.
Her recipe for Croquetas de Jamón (Ham Croquettes, above) is basically made for picky kids. And uh, adults. But she’s also got fantastic recipes for the basics, including the perfect Cuban rice, Frijoles Negros, and if you dare, homemade tamales.
Don’t Stop There!
Hispanic cuisine also includes so many other incredible dishes, flavors and techniques from Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Argentina, Peru and more.
So basically I could be here all day.
Instead, here are a few other authentic Hispanic food websites and blogs, all written by natives or Hispanic-Americans, to help set you off on your own delicious journey:
Authentic Spanish Food Blogs
Other Authentic Latin-American Food Blogs
Any other favorite Hispanic recipes or Hispanic food blogs? Please leave them in comments, we’d love to find them. And happy Hispanic Heritage Month!
Top photo by Christine Siracusa via Unsplash