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10 incredible South American food & drink discoveries, including the most amazing cocktails & best ever beach snack

guacamole avocado in bolivia
Guacamole made from Bolivian avocados

During my four month travels through South America I cooked a lot using produce bought in 
local markets. Exploring each countries fruit and vegetable offerings was one of my favourite things to do, and some of the best avocados and corn I've ever eaten were in the Bolivian city of Sucre. On days when I headed out to eat and drink I was always so excited to try something new, here are some of my favourite discoveries from my time in South America.   

1 Mote con Huesillo, Santiago, Chile
Sold all over the city from street-side carts, this drink doesn’t look so appealing but is a delight during summer. Served in a plastic cup, there’s usually barley or cooked husked wheat, topped with dried peaches, covered with ice-cold peach juice, it’s a drink and snack in one and is amazingly refreshing.

Mote con Huesillo in santiago
Mote con huesillo

2 Empanadas de Queso, Buenos Aires, Argentina

I tried my first ever empanada in BA and continued to eat more over the next four months. Varying from country to country, the flaky, buttery pastry and stringy, salty cheese of the ones I ate in Argentina were hard to beat. Pick one up from street vendors throughout South America or in restaurants when in Argentina and Chile, or look out for them on the beach too. 

3 Dulce de Leche Churros and Berlines, Brazil & Chile

Everytime I sat on a beach in Brazil and Chile, vendors would pass selling all kinds of treats and one of my favourites, the snack I could never resist was dulce de leche filled berlines (doughnut) or churros—the ones I samples on Praia do Cassino beach in Brazil were divine. Dulce de leche is a kind of sweet milk caramel that is totally amazing on it’s own, but added to doughnuts and churros it becomes even better. Find your sunbathing spot on the beach, sit back and listen for the unmistakable call of ‘Berlineeeess, berliiiinesss’ this is beachside snack that will come to you!

dulce de leche doughnuts
Dulce de leche & chocolate filled doughnuts

4 Terremoto, Santiago, Chile

An alcoholic drink that translates to ‘earthquake’ in Spanish. A terremoto is served in a pint glass and is made up of cheap white wine, Fernet (a bitter tasting herbal liquor popular throughout South America) and topped with pineapple sorbet. You’re meant to drink it through a straw and you can pick them up in a Santiago dive bar for around £2. 

5 Pique Macho, La Paz, Bolivia

Bolivia isn’t known for its incredible cuisine but the country has an amazing array of fruits and vegetables, including the best avocados I’ve ever eaten (see above). I cooked in my hostel for a lot of my time in Bolivia but one dish I did enjoy eating out was the Pique Macho, consisting of fried beef and potatoes topped with onions, chilli pepper and boiled eggs with lots of different sauces on top, some of which are super spicy, Pique Macho kind of reminds me of a healthier version of the food you eat after a night out, tasty and filling.

6 Mate, Punta del Diablo, Uruguay

All over the country you’ll see Uruguayans drinking from small round cups with metal straws - what they’re drinking is Mate - a traditional South American drink brewed from leaves of the yerba mate plant. You can buy cups and straws throughout Uruguay to make your own or order from a cafĂ© and add sugar to taste.

7 Completo, Santiago, Chile

In my opinion the best hot dog in the entire world is called a completo and comes from Chile. You get a white bread roll, filled with sausage, guacamole and chopped tomatoes to which you can add mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup. With completo shops in most main towns, they fast became my go-to lunch on a budget, I ate so many of these travelling through Chile.

completo chile
Chile's amazing completos

8 Caipirinha, Florianopolis, Brazil

I tried my first caipirinha sitting on a beach in Santa Catarina, Florianopolis, way before you could ever order one in the UK. Made with cachaca, sugar and lime, Brazilian caipirinhas are strong, delicious and when served ice cold, can't be beaten.

9 Pisco Sour, Arequipa, Peru

Invented in Lima back in the 1920’s, this addictive cocktail consists of Pisco, lime, Angostura bitters, egg white and sugar syrup, I tried my first in the beautiful city of Arequipa but have since gone back to Lima to learn how to make the best Pisco Sour in the world at an amazing cocktail class at Hotel B Lima.


10 Ceviche, Huanchaco, Peru

Like the Pisco Sour it’s easy to get ceviche all over the world now, but my first taste was on Peru’s coast and I’ve never forgotten it. Raw mixed fish and sliced onions marinated in lime juice, chilli and salt, served with sweet potato and corn is the taste of Peru, so eating it beachside in the small surf town of Huanchaco was nothing short of bliss.

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