Culture

 The Eleven Most Popular Board Games in Latin America

Board games are a great way for children and adults to develop social skills, improve family relationships and reduce screen time–a need felt by many in our ever more technologically dependent lives.  Health benefits include increased memory skills, reaction time, cognitive ability and reduced stress.

Mancala is one of the oldest known board games and was believed to be played by the Pharaohs of Egypt according to archaeologists.  The “board” was the ground and the game involved capturing as many stones or seeds from your opponent in one of two rows of holes dug into the ground.  Every player began with 24 stones or seeds.  Whichever player ended up with the most seeds in his or her hole won the game.

From ancient to modern, Latin America has a variety of board game traditions that span both history and culture. While many games in Latin America share many traits with popular international games such as chess and parcheesi, various cultures in Latin America have adapted these games to their own cultures while inventing new games as well.  Here are eleven of the top original board games in Latin America to get you started.

1.  La Lotería (Mexico)

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Considered the Quintessential board game of Mexico, La Lotería actually arrived in Mexico via Spain. In La Lotería, the announcer provides an improvised short poem or phrase alluding to images on the cards.  Each player will then use a chip, or a kernel of corn, to mark the correct spot on their board or tabla.  The first player to fill out their game board in a predetermined pattern can call out either “bingo” or “lotería” to win. 

2. Parqués (Colombia)

Parques 6 Theme Colombia. worthpoint.com.

Also known as “Parchis” in Spain and “Parcheesi” in the United States, this popular international board game from the cross and circle family originated in India and is known as “Pachisi” there.  It is played with two dice and can have up to eight players. Each player has four pieces and is assigned a color.  The pieces start out in a “jail” box and can only be freed by rolling a pair.  The pieces must move across nine boxes on the board before exiting the board successfully.

3. Brazilian Checkers (Brazil)

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Played on a smaller board and with fewer checkers than other international versions of the game, Brazilian checkers are very popular amongst older adults in Brazil.  The squares are 8X8 rather than 10X10 but, otherwise, the rules are generally the same. 

4. Kay (Haiti)

KAY (Mancala awale game). Kisqueyanaturebijoux.com. 2018

From the Mancala family, Kay is Haiti’s rendition of the age-old international classic.  Haitian slaves derived their version from “Awele,” a game played in Africa, the Caribbean, and parts of Asia. An awale board is a piece of varnished wood with two rows of six carved round pits called “houses.”  The game involves two players with a set number of seeds or stones and the object is for one of the players to end up with the most seeds after following a set of rules and turn-taking, a description of which can be found here.

5. El Estanciero (Argentina)

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Sometimes compared to the US game of “Monopoly,” El Estanciero is similar except with themes of cattle management and managing a farm successfully.  According to Board Game Geek, the game also has a “rest space” that allows you to take refuge from high farming and ranching fees of your opponents.

6. Sapo (Peru)

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Sapo, also known as “choke the frog,” is a very ancient Peruvian game and is still very popular.  It does have a board.  However, it is a much larger three dimensional board and is best played outside. This is a “coin-toss” game. At the center of the board is a frog with an open mouth surrounded by carved out holes.  Two players must stand 4-5 paces back from the board and are given 10 Sapo coins at a time to toss.  Surrounding holes closest to the frog do have points and, when all coins have been tossed, the player with the highest score wins.

7. El Gocho (Venezuela)

El Gocho HD for IPAD. AppDecide.com. 2013

In the Peg solitaire family, El Gocho involves a triangular board with fifteen holes and fourteen pegs.  A player must remove the pegs by jumping over the adjacent peg.  However, unlike other peg solitaire games, the player must follow the lines of the board. This makes the game more challenging.  In the end, the object of the game is to end up with a single peg.

8. Fines (Guatemala)

Guatemalan Kids Playing Marbles. blog.seansheridan.com. 02/2011

In the marbles game family, the “board” is drawn on the ground and the object is to knock the opponent’s marbles off of the playing area.  Players are then able to keep the marbles of their opponents.  To determine who is the first player, players draw a line on the floor called a “mica” and players throw a marble from six paces away from the line.  Whoever gets their marble closest to the “mica” gets to be the first player.

9. Ludi (Jamaica)

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This game involves 2-4 players, a game board, four markers per player and a set of two dice.  Ludo is similar to many other games in that each player’s objective is to get all four of their pieces to home before the other players by following a set of rules.   It is also derived from the “Pachisi” family.  However, Jamaicans have given the board their own personality with colors and designs unique to Jamaican culture and have also customized the rules and traditions.

10. Adugo (Brazil–also Komikan in Chile)

Komikan. Boardgamegeek.com

This game is a two-player abstract strategy game that comes from the Bororo Tribe in the Pantanal region of Brazil. It was originally thought to have been brought over by the Spanish centuries ago because of the game board itself, an alquerque based board common in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.  The black (or red) piece on the board is the jaguar and the other fourteen pieces are white.  They are the dogs.  The dogs try to surround the jaguar in order to block its movements and the Jaguar attempts to capture at least five of the dogs to reach a stalemate, a win for the jaguar.

11. Thunka (Bolivia)

La Thunka. auroratutora.blogspot.com. 03/2012

Another game in which the “board” is the ground, this game involves drawing seven squares on the ground with chalk, one for each day of the week.  Part of the “hopscotch” family of games, each player tosses a stone or other object into the “Lunes” square and hops into it on one foot.  The same is done for the other seven squares until “Domingo” is reached and then the stone is kicked out. Players are disqualified by not hopping into the square where their stone landed and can only land on one foot.  In non-Andean Bolivia, it is also called “Rayuela” and there are different versions for boys and girls.  Additionally, the number of squares, names, and objects may vary.

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Here Are 9 Salsas From Across Latin America That You’ll Carry In Your Bag Every Day Of The Week

Culture

Here Are 9 Salsas From Across Latin America That You’ll Carry In Your Bag Every Day Of The Week

I guarantee that since Beyonce’s hit anthem ‘Formation’ hit the airwaves, we’ve all been wanting to channel our inner Bey and carry some hot sauce in our bags. But which one would you choose?  

Whether you prefer sweet and sour, ranch, spicy, or mild, when it comes to options, the possibilities are endless!

A sauce’s beauty is that every country has its famous creation that usually accompanies their traditional dishes. Every Latin American country has its mouth-watering sauce that was created using recipes passed down from ancestors.

AJILIMOJILI

In Puerto Rico, this sauce is quite popular because of its ají dulce flavor – a mix of sweet and sour notes. The green salsa is the Caribbean’s version of hot sauce and is added to recipes, such as seafood and boiled vegetables.

VALENTINA

Few of us don’t know about the magic that is Valentina. Pour that sauce all over your papas, pizza, jicama, elotes, and so much more. And it’s great because it’s available in a variety of heat levels so everyone can enjoy. 

TIÁ LUPITA HABANERO SAUCE

This Habanero Hot Sauce is an original family recipe of the brand and combines just the right amount of heat with each fruit’s natural sweetness. It is handmade in small batches, using only habanero peppers, dates, mangos, and spices. All ingredients are sourced from local farms and are non-GMO and gluten-free certified.

The sauce can be used as a condiment with breakfast burritos, eggs, sandwiches, tacos, pulled pork, steak, chicken, fish, quesadillas, and more.

CHIMICHURRI

Chimichurri is mostly tied to Argentina, even though other countries also serve the herb-based salsa. To achieve the perfect chimichurri, mix parsley, oregano, garlic, onion, pepper, vinegar, and olive oil. Pair with meat cuts like churrasco and watch the magic happen.

CHIRMOL

In Central America, chismol or chirmol is made of tomatoes, onion, peppers and other ingredients. It’s similar to pico de gallo and is used in a variety of dishes.

RICANTE

Sauce, dressing, dip, marinade… Ricante does it all and with no sugar or salt added and with just the right amount of approachable spice. Ricante is not only Non-GMO, Gluten-Free, and Keto Friendly, but tiá approved!

Ricante launched with five incredibly unique hot sauces, marrying non-traditional essences like apples, mangos, carrots, and habaneros.

SALSA ROSA

Pastas are enjoyed all across Latin America, especially in Argentina and Uruguay, which pair the dishes with salsa rosa, a tomato-based sauce mixed with heavy cream. Together, they create a pink paste that blankets a variety of pasta dishes.

TACTICAL TACOS

Wait, so not all taco bases are citrus?! Tactical Tacos knows how to do taco sauce right with their notes of orange, lime, and cilantro to start your bite out just right, followed up with a perfect hint of Jalapeno and Cayenne pepper in the background. That’s just their mild sauce, Snafu. The Fire Fight and Ghost Protocol give you a similar ride with the citrus kick but with a much bigger spice hit for those that are brave enough to try it out!

MOLE

Mole is a spicy-and-sweet sauce made from chocolate that translates. The dark brown sauce gets its heat from chiles, but also has a touch of sweetness from the cacao, almonds, and peanuts often added. The sauce is topped with sesame seeds.

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All The Truly Surprising Starbucks Menu Items From Around Latin America

Culture

All The Truly Surprising Starbucks Menu Items From Around Latin America

There are some things you can count on at any American Starbucks location, like the uniform flavor of Pike Place Roast, a sub-par bagel, or the baristas’ inability to spell Jennypher correctly. Outside of the U.S., however, the chain must make some menu adjustments based on local tastes.

Although the term “unusual” is certainly relative, here’s a glimpse of Starbucks’ best international offerings.

Maracuya Frappuccino – Mexico

Transport yourself to the Riviera Maya with this one. The people of Mexico can taste the exotic fruity flavor of passionfruit (aka maracuya) in their frappuccinos and save themselves from an actual trip to the beach.

Ponche Navideño – Mexico

Starbucks México on Twitter: "Recárgate de buenos deseos con una bebida de  temporada (pst, nosotros te invitamos la segunda 😁). Del 20 al 24 de  noviembre de 3 a 5 p. m.… https://t.co/hB3ziwEuDp"

Although most of us think as ponche as being just a seasonal option, several Starbucks locations in Mexico carry the traditional tasty treat all year long.

Banana Split Frappuccino – Mexico

You can take this one with or without coffee. It has all the banana and chocolate flavor of the beloved dessert and is topped with crushed waffle cones.

Envuelto Poblano – Mexico

Starbucks México | Envuelto poblano, el sabor de México en Starbucks -  YouTube

Lucuma Crème Frappuccino – Peru

Too bad they don’t serve it in the United States but I can understand why. This frappuccino is made with Lucuma, which is a tropical fruit from Peru, so it would be problematic to export it to different parts of the world. On the other hand, it makes the drink exclusive and adds one more reason to go to Peruvian Starbucks.

The taste of the fruit can be compared to maple flavor or butterscotch and this frappuccino itself is creamy and sweet as a Peruvian treat should be.

Barrita Nuez – Chile

Meet the famous humble cookie with a Chilean spin. You can taste the Barrita Nuez in Chile and enjoy the stuffing which consists of dulce de leche, nougat and walnuts.

Brigadeiro Frappuccino – Brazil

This frappuccino was born to honor the love of dulce de leche flavored ice creams which all Brazilians share. Dulce de leche is a traditional Latin American dessert that is prepared by slowly heating sweetened milk until it changes its color and gets a flavor similar to caramel.

Mini Donuts Nutella – Brazil

18 International Starbucks Items You'll Want To Travel For

Mini fried donuts filled with Nutella. Why are there no Nutella-filled treats at an American Starbucks?!

Pão de Queijo – Brazil

Brazil is often associated with skewers of meat, but there’s certainly a lot more cuisine variation. The fluffy balls of gluten-free cheese bread known as pão de queijo is a good example. The use of sour cassava starch dates back to the 1600s, before cheese was even in the picture, but today they’re available everywhere you turn in Brazil, from beachside stands to grandmothers’ kitchens to the Starbucks pastry case.

Dulce de Leche Frappuccino – Argentina

This creamy Frappuccino flavored with dulce de leche is pretty much what dreams are made of.

Cafe Tinto – Colombia

Starbucks coffee couldn’t be further than the working-class style of Colombian coffee called tinto, but as part of an effort to blend into its surroundings, the chain sells short cups of the stuff. It’s served black, and has a slightly thicker consistency than your average joe.

Churro Frappuccino – Latin America

Churro Frappuccino served at Starbucks all over Latin America includes cinnamon sprinkling, whipped cream, white mocha syrup, and a churro. 

What’s your favorite Starbucks items from across Latin America?

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