A charming, vibrant and unstoppable team launched this past weekend London's best Latin American Street Festival. I am talking Comida Fest. Comida Fest filled the British capital with warming flavors and charming rhythms. Events like these introduce the richness and beauty of Latin America's culture and culinary expertise to visitors from all over the world. I have the great pleasure to write every week for Comida Fest their news section. So fun. And it makes me very nostalgic. So I am [mentally] taking a little trip back to my childhood home-base, Chile.
You might related, quite often it can be a single spice or a genuine flavor from an herb, fruit or typical ingredient that can revive fond memories. And I want to share with you notes of flavors that I connect with this beautiful region. You will see they might not all be foreign to you. A few of my top 5 are already circulating around food blogs and gaining more and more in popularity abroad. Yay!
And here is why...
Here are my top 5 South American flavors:
Have you heard of ...
Lucuma fruit or lucuma powder -- Originally from Peru and increasingly more and more present on the global culinary stage. Next to maca, goji and other super-foods, lucuma powder is a vitamin-rich ingredient, a deliciously sweet fruit that Incas back then nicknamed their gold. Lucuma ice-cream is seriously to die for. Here in the US it is easiest to find this gem in form of powder. Its natural sweetness and good amount of benefits makes it the perfect sweetener. Lucuma is high in iron, antioxidants, it is anti-inflammatory, high in fibre and high in carotene (also an antioxidant). Easy to use in smoothies or baking. Have a look at these recent posts from one of my favorite blogs that created mouthwatering recipes with lucuma powder. I included the links below.
Spice + Sprout: Chocolate Lucuma Blueberry Dessert Smoothie
Faring Well: Creamy Dreamy Chia Pudding For Breakfast
Give it a try, add this nourishing and indulgent ingredient (in)to a healthy treat!
Tunas -- Not talking fish here. Tunas are fruits also known as prickly pear cactus fruits. The cactus pads, or nopales, are all over the place in the Bay Area. You can eat nopales as well (*), but when they bear the fruits, the tunas, you got the real treat. Tunas sweet but not overpowering. Similar to a water melon, a great thirst-quencher.
Cherimoya -- Cherimoya in English, chirimoya in Spanish. Have a read through my post about this fleshy and refreshing fruit here + recipe "Cherimoya Alegre" included. But here also comes a little heads up, one cherimoya can be quite expensive in the US. I recently bought one as a treat for my family at a farmers market and the damage was US$13. Yes, I know. But every single bite was so so worth it.
Cilantro or Coriander -- A true old friend in my home. Never fails me. It specially gives Latin American dishes like ceviche, palta o guacamole, dips and salads a very distinct flavorful note. This lush green herb is high in antioxidants, essential oils, vitamins, and dietary fiber. And it is easy to grow in your garden.
Sweet Lemons & Lilikoi: Zesty Avocado Dip (Chilean style)
Sweet Lemons & Lilikoi: Cilantro Infused Quinoa Avocado Salad
Saffron -- This yellow golden dust is a staple in Latin America, mainly used in steaming hot rice. It gives it a flavorful kick. It is high in antioxidants among many other benefits. Looking more into the background of Saffron I came across this article from Serious Eats explaining how and why this spice is the most expensive food in the world, more than caviar or truffles. Read all about it here.
Lucuma. Tunas. Cherimoya. Cilantro. Saffron. Would you like to add a genuine flavor from Latin America? Because there are many many more. I would love to know your favorite choice.