Culture

These Latin American Restaurants Just Got Voted Into The Top Restaurants In The World By World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards

As we reported a few days ago, Latin American chefs did pretty great at the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards in Singapore. Latin American fine cuisine got a total of nine spots in the list, and two in the top ten. This is quite an achievement for a region that is relatively new to fine dining. Cities like Mexico City and Lima have just become culinary epicenters thanks to visionaries that have translated tradition into modern masterpieces. However, credit is due to the centuries of cultural remix that has produced legendary dishes. Indigenous, colonial and other influences come together in the plate and wow judges and patrons. If these places have something in common, it is the inquisitive nature of their lead chefs. They went deep into the cultural roots of their countries, even finding new ingredients to achieve creativity and perfection.

Latin American fine cuisine got a total of nine spots in the list, and two in the top ten. This is quite an achievement for a region that is relatively new to fine dining. Cities like Mexico City and Lima have just become culinary epicenters thanks to visionaries that have translated tradition into modern masterpieces. However, credit is due to the centuries of cultural remix that has produced legendary dishes. Indigenous, colonial and other influences come together in the plate and wow judges and patrons. If these places have something in common, it is the inquisitive nature of their lead chefs. They went deep into the cultural roots of their countries, even finding new ingredients to achieve creativity and perfection.

We have to pay respect to the traditional recipes and the many years (and sometimes centuries) of experimentation by everyday cooks that led to these awards. So, we have listed some of the traditional influences that these restaurants have had. Sometimes it was all there already, and chefs just took it a step further! The restaurants in this list range from the high end to a Brazilian eatery that is relaxed and not expensive at all.

At number 6: Central (Lima, Peru), Best restaurant in South America,
Influenced by: ancient, indigenous Peruvian food

Credit: thefoodcray / Instagram

This is the flagship restaurant of kitchen wizard Virgilio Martínez Véliz, who travels deep into each region of his home country to fund ancient ingredients. He collaborates with indigenous men and women to learn about traditional ways of cooking. He has introduced ingredients such as the Amazonian piranha into the menu. His drive to experiment has made him a celebrity chef the world over. You can learn about his journey in S3E6 of the Netflix show Chef’s Table

At number 10:  Maido (Lima, Peru), Influenced by: traditional Japanese cuisine with a Peruvian twist and local ingredients

Credit: mitsuharu_maido / Instagram

A testament to the ethnic diversity of Peru. The Japanese immigration in Peru has been constant and has led this ethnic minority to have a vibrant place in the social, cultural and political life of the South American country. This restaurant is let my “Micha” Tsumura, who offers a Nikkei experience that includes classic Peruvian seafood such as sea urchin and sea snail. Lima is certainly keeping up with cities such as New York, Tokyo, and Paris, which are usually the leaders of the pack. 

3. At number 12: Pujol (Mexico City, Mexico), Best Restaurant in North America, Influenced by: traditional Mexican food, particularly from Oaxaca

Credit: pujolrestaurant / Instagram

Enrique Olvera has established himself as one of the main voices of the global fine art circuit. In his flagship Mexico City restaurant he offers dishes that use indigenous ingredients, particularly from the colorful region of Oaxaca. His team makes tortillas by hand, grinding species of corn that are rare. Olvera is not shy to experiment with ingredients that might seem “weird” to Western patrons, such as chicatana ants. A delightful experience that needs to be tasted to be believed. 

4. At number 23: Cosme (New York City), Influenced by: traditional Mexican garnachas 

Credit: cosmenyc / Instagram

A New York restaurant with a 100% Mexican soul. Created by Olvera and led by Mexican chef Daniela Soto-Innes, who has revealed herself as a unique culinary voice and was named the World’s Best Female Chef 2019. She serves Modern Mexican food that is inspired by the crunchiness and glorious saltiness of Mexican street food, or garnachas. If you want to take your carnitas, infladitas, and tamales to the next level, then this is the place for you. Sinful delights all around. By the way, the kitchen is 50% female, which goes hand in hand with the chef’s ideas of equality. She also employs people from diverse ethnic backgrounds, both from the United States and overseas. 

5. At number 24: Quintonil (Mexico City, Mexico), Influenced by: traditional Mexican cuisine

Credit: rest_quintonil / Instagram

The brainchild of chef Jorge Vallejo (who used to work at Pujol) is a tribute to the postcolonial flavors of Mexico. If Pujol strived to bring back ancient recipes, Quintonil offers new interpretations of classic everyday dishes such as tostadas de cangrejo and the luxurious escamoles (ant eggs). Even dishes that your abuelita might have made, such as Huazontles or salpicon, are featured here. Look at their take on a flauta in the photo above. 

6. At number 26: Boragó (Santiago, Chile), Influenced by: ingredients from Chile’s geographical diversity

Credit: rgborago / Instagram

Rodolfo Guzman is a raising rockstar. Like Peru’s Central, this restaurant features ingredients from every corner of the country. Rodolfo gets ingredients from the Atacama desert, all the way down to the frigid Patagonia landscapes. Have you ever tasted flowers? Well, here you can: the signature dishes is a blend of roasted flowers, Van Gogh style! 

7. At number 34: Don Julio (Buenos Aires, Argentina), Influenced by: traditional asado techniques 

Credit: donjulioparrilla / Instagram

They say that if you are going to do one thing, you do it the best you can. This restaurant led by Pablo Jesus Rivero might make the best steak in the world. Following the traditional ways of cooking meat in the Pampas, cuts like rump steak and skirt steak are cooked to perfection. Sweetbread empanadas are also a standout. The decor follows the aesthetic of a 19th-century country estancia, when European pioneers made their way into the depths of the nascent country.

8. At number 39: A Casa do Porco (São Paulo, Brazil), Influenced by: Brazilian working class cooking

Credit: acadadoporcobar / Instagram

Pork is a relatively easy stock to raise, and it has been a staple in the diets of Brazilians for centuries. Chef Jefferson Rueda reimagines everything you can do with pork. He raises the pigs on a diet of vegetables, slaughters them in house and uses every single part of the animal, making items such as blood sausages. The degustation menu is a culinary experience that also includes beans, cabbage, and banana, other staples of Brazilian home kitchens. The owners strive to make the restaurant accessible to the community, so prices are far from exorbitant. You can dine for $13 dollars.

9. At number 49: Leo (Bogotá, Colombia), Influenced by: indigenous uses of local fruits and vegetables

Credit: tevedolinsky / Instagram

Chef Leonor Espinosa has become a celebrity thanks to her bubbly personality and her use of little known ingredients such as corozo fruit, arrechon (a supposed aphrodisiac) and bijao, a banana-like plant. She learns from communities and their gastronomic traditions, creating dishes that include, for example, a crunchy coating made from ants. The menu explores different Colombian animal and plant species. A map shows where each one was sourced. The chef also runs a foundation FUNLEO, which aims to identify, reclaim and enhance the culinary traditions in Colombian communities.

READ: Mexican Food Meets Japanese Food In These Next Level Mexican Sushi Creations

People Have A Lot Of Opinions About The Argentina Episode Of Netflix’s ‘Street Food: Latin America’

Culture

People Have A Lot Of Opinions About The Argentina Episode Of Netflix’s ‘Street Food: Latin America’

Manuel Velasquez / Getty Images

Netflix has a new food show out and it has everyone buzzing. “Street Food: Latin America” is bringing everyone the sabor of Latin America to their living room. However, reviews are mixed because of Argentina and the lack of Central American representation.

Netflix has a new show and it is all about Latin American street food.

Some of the best food in the world comes from Latin America. That is just a fact and it isn’t because our families and community come for Latin America. Okay, maybe just a little. The food of Latin America comes with history and stories that have shaped our childhood. For many of us, it is the only thing we have that connects us to the lands our families have left.

The show is highlighting the contributions of women to street food.

“Street Food: Latin America” focuses mainly on the women that are leading the street food cultures in different countries in Latin America. For some of them, it was a chance to bring themselves out of poverty and care for their children. For others, it was a rebellion against the male-dominated culture of cooking in Latin America.

However, some people have some strong opinions about the show and they aren’t good.

There is a lot of attention to native communities in the Latino community culturally right now. The Argentina episode where someone claims that Argentina is more European is rubbing people the wrong way right now. While the native population of Argentina is small, it is still important to highlight and honor native communities who are indigenous to the lands.

The disregard for the indigenous community is upsetting because indigenous Argentinians are fighting for their lives and land.

An A Jazeera report focused on an indigenous community in northern Argentina who were fighting to protect their land. After decades of discrimination and humiliation, members of the Wichi community fought to protect their land from the Argentinian government grabbing it in 2017. Early this year, before Covid, children of the tribe started to die at alarming rates of malnutrition.

Another pain point in the Latino community is the complete disregard of Central America.

Central America includes Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Belize, and Panama. Central America’s exclusion is not sitting right with Netflix users with Central American heritage. Like, how can five whole countries be looked over during a Netflix show about street food in Latin America?

Seems like there is a chance for Netflix to revisit Latin America for more food content.

There are so many countries in Latin America that offer delicious foods to the world. There is more to Latin America than Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Colombia, and Bolivia.

READ: This Iconic Mexican Food Won The Twitter Battle To Be Named Latin America’s Best Street Food

#NationalTequilaDay Gives You Something To Celebrate While Sitting In Your Living Room

Culture

#NationalTequilaDay Gives You Something To Celebrate While Sitting In Your Living Room

Refugio Ruiz / Getty Images

Even when we aren’t in quarantine, tequila can offer a quick and fun respite from the world. Today is National Tequila Day and the current state of the world is a great reason to celebrate. There is more than just the drinking of tequila to celebrate.

Happy National Tequila Day!

Tequila is arguably one of the several gifts Mexico has given to the world. It is just one of the many culinary treats that the vibrant and beautiful country has created. Makes sense that we would have a national do to truly appreciate the nectar from the Mexican gods.

Women had a major hand in developing the liquor that has become a staple around the world.

Women were some of the first to cultivate the blue agave plant center to create the drink. The women on Tequila, where tequila was born, would harvest the hijuelos in the blue agave plant. That part of the plant is what is used to make tequila.

Tequila, like champagne, is from a very specific place.

Champagne is champagne if it comes from the Champagne region of France. Tequila is no different. In fact, there is a board of people in Mexico who decide who can and cannot call themselves tequila. Elon Musk was swatted down by that board when he claimed to be making his own version of tequila produced outside of the region.

If you’ve ever wanted to know the chemistry behind tequila, there are some helpful graphs floating around.

The treatment of the tequila really dictates the flavor, color, and profile of the drink. it might even help you discover what kind of tequila you might like to drink. Maybe you might prefer a mezcal instead. Mezcal is not always tequila but tequila is always mezcal.

Either way, enjoy your day celebrating tequila.

With so few options for outing, why not make your own tequila celebration happen at home. You won’t have to drive or put on pants so it is truly a win-win.

READ: 14 Reasons You Should Be Drinking Tequila Right Now