Latino foodie lingo explained

Don't know your ceviche from your churrasco? Read on...

Often seen on Mexican menus (such as Maya Modern Mexican Kitchen in Dubai), achiote is used as a seasoning and also natural colouring, made from the bright red fruit and the seeds of the achiote plant.

Aji amarillo
While the humble pepper in all its various guises originates from Peru, the aji amarillo (a variety of yellow chilli pepper) remains distinctly theirs and is key to many of the nation’s great dishes including causa.

Not far off from the Arabic kebab or Japanese yakitori, anticuchos are Peruvian grilled skewers of meat (traditionally made with beef heart). Stories vary as to whether this national dishes was first created by Japanese immigrants or African slaves, but long before 2013’s Latin wave hit Dubai, Peruvian fusion master Nobu has been serving this item on his menu around the globe.

While most now know that ceviche is made with raw fish, it is not the same as a carpaccio. The difference in this dish is that, while the fish flesh sees no heat, it is ‘cured’ through the acid of the citrus juice added (usually lime). Experts say, any longer than 30 seconds and the fish is ‘too cooked’ and the enzyme reaction ought ideally to occur in the mouth, not on the plate!

This Argentine marinade for meat is basted on with abandon, before, during and after grilling and is typically made using corn oil, garlic, oregano, parsley and chilli.

In Portuguese, ‘churrasco’ simply means grilled (or barbecued) and refers to a style of cooking meats, typical in both the Portuguese and Brazilian reportoire. A churrascaria, is a restaurant specialising in this style of cooking.

The Brazilian national dish, this concoction is a catch-all stew of black beans, rice as well as just about every type of cut of meat you can imagine.

This Peruvian herb, often dubbed a variety of mint, originally comes from the Andes.

Seen across the continent, and under various names (it is known as ‘pamonha’ in Brazil and ‘tamales’ in Mexico), humita is a pre-Hispanic dish, made with a mash of cornmeal, stuffed with meat, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed.

We know about Andean superfood quinoa, but perhaps not its quieter cousin kiwicha (also known as amaranth), another gluten-free grain, which is thought to be highly nutritious.

Leche de tigre
Literally meaning ‘tiger’s milk’, leche de tigre is essentially the macerated juices created as a by-product of ceviche. This mix of fish, chilli and lime is so revered in Peru it is even imbibed as a pick me up (and an aphrodisiac).

Literally meaning ‘revolving’, a rodizio is a churrascaria, where the waiters pass through the restaurant, on rotation, with various skewers of meat.

Like a ceviche, but most certainly not the same, this particular Peruvian raw fish dish sees the flesh cut with much finer, sashimi-like precision. This variation is largely deemed a result of the Nikkei Japanese influence on Peru’s food.

A term used in Portugal, as Brazil, it refers to little savoury bits, typically consumed with coffee, and often consisting of bready- doughy fritters, pastries and mini pies. In Dubai, you may see many of these served in churrascarias as ‘hot appetisers’ such as the famous pão de queijo-cheese-stuffed bread balls.

Suspiro de limeña
In case your Spanish isn’t up to much, this has nothing to do with lemons. It is instead Peru’s best- known dessert, made with dulce de leche (or manjar blanco as the Peruvians call it), topped with meringue and named ‘a Lima lady’s sigh’ since the wispy texture is just as light and delicate.

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