Culture

These Fast Food Items That Are Only Available In Latin America Will Give You Some Serious Food Envy

Fast food is key to contemporary societies. Some people see fast food chains, the majority of which are originally from the United States, as a sign of cultural imperialism, an unstoppable force that just feeds on greed and crushes local industries and culinary cultures. The recently deceased Mexican painter Francisco Toledo, for example, fought and won the battle of stopping McDonald’s from opening a branch in the main square of the city of Oaxaca. 

Critics see fast food as a way in which companies want to set an standarized way of living. Companies like McDonald’s, Burger King or Starbucks have expanded worldwide. However, fast food also provides a sense of comfort, of feeling at home basically anywhere in the world. 

Well, one of the expansion strategies used by fast food chains is offering products that appeal to the local taste. Menus in different countries offer surprising options that make locals feel cared for and help visitors discover something new while being in a familiar place. These are some of the dishes that you can only find in Latin America. 

If you know what queso panela is you will drool at this Starbucks sandwich.

Credit: Twitter. @StarbucksMexico

Queso panela is a delicious Mexican cheese that can be grilled and is similar to Turkish varieties brought by the Spanish conquerors (in fact, many staples of Mexican cuisine have a Middle Eastern origin). If you are on a diet and just can’t let go of cheese, then chances are that this is a must-have in your fridge. This sandwich looks so homemade that we just want to curl in one of those big Starbucks chairs and eat it. 

Because Colombians are just a little bit fancy…

Credit: Twitter. @McDonaldsColombia

Yum! Colombians can be very sophisticated when it comes to food and this delicious burger is proof of it. It has melted cheese and prosciutto, aka fancy ham. And this burger was created for a good cause: part of the proceedings went to a charity that provides accommodation for children in need. Delicious and morally satisfying. 

Because you can’t have a restaurant in Venezuela and not sell arepas.

Credit: Twitter. @McDonaldsVenezuela

McMuffins are a staple of McDonald’s breakfasts worldwide, but of course the fast food giant had to offer traditional arepas in its Venezuelan branches. 

Yuquitas are available in Venezuela, but there is a sad story behind it.

Credit: Twitter. @McDonaldsVenezuela

Due to food scarcity in the South American country, McDonald’s stopped selling French fries in some locations and replaced them with Yuquitas, made out of Yucca plants. Yucca does bring some health benefits, though, and provides relief for osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, migraine headaches, inflammation of the intestine (colitis), high cholesterol, stomach disorders, diabetes, poor circulation, and liver and gallbladder disorders. 

McDonald’s offers one of the staples of Mexican breakfast: molletes!

Credit: Twitter. @McDonaldsMexico

Molletes are almost as popular as chilaquiles (the delicious concoction of fried tortilla triangles, authentic salsa, cream and cheese). Molletes are basically a piece of bread, traditionally a bolillo, with refried beans and melted cheese on top. The cereza en el pastel is a touch of pico de gallo or the hot sauce of your liking. The McDonald’s version is a bit meh. It uses a sort of English muffin instead of a crunchy, fluffy bolillo

And apparently you can also get molletes with no frijoles! That is like our worst fast food nightmare ever.

Credit: Twitter. @YurithKat

This poor woman must have had the worst beginning of her day ever. A mollete with no beans is like a burger with no meat (or veggie patty for those who prefer them). Definitely one of the worst ways to wake up on the wrong side of the bed, metaphorically speaking. 

And Burger King Mexico no se queda atrás: burritos a la mexicana.

Credit: Burger King Mexico

Yes, you can get breakfast burritos in the United States, but this version is only available in Mexico and is made a la mexicana, which basically means that it has freshly chopped tomato, green chili and onion. It is a great morning pick me up and can help greatly with la cruda. 

For a Boricua taste, a Monchi Burger.

Credit: McDonald’s Puerto Rico

Launched in April this year and for a limited time, this new hamburger was prepared with sweet and light Mallorca bread. It was available in two versions: beef or chicken, and comes with fresh lettuce, tomato, cheese, ketchup and mayonnaise. Yum. 

And of course Burger King has a classic churrasquito in Argentina!

Credit: Burger King Argentina

Argentinians love their meat, but they also love their thick, crunchy bread (the kind that makes your jaws ache after you eat a whole sandwich). It is no surprise that Burger King introduced a churrasquito in its menu. Layer upon layer of fatty, delicious animal products (not suitable for vegans, obvs). 

I Was Today Years Old When I Found Out These Pokémon Were Inspired By Mexico And Latin America

Entertainment

I Was Today Years Old When I Found Out These Pokémon Were Inspired By Mexico And Latin America

Pokémon.Fandom / Instagram

The Pokémon franchise is one of the biggest and most important ones in the world. Including video games, TV series, movies, card games, collectible cuddly toys and even clothing, the Pokémon empire’s profits amount to billions of dollars annually. With more than 800 species of Pokémon, the work for Pokémon creator Satoshi Tajiri has taken inspiration from various cultures around the world to invent each of the “pocket monsters,” and some were inspired by Latin America.

Nintendo and the Pokémon Company have published well over 50 different Pokémon games.

In the two decades since Pokémon first came to be, Nintendo has released over 50 games set in different worlds —featuring hundreds of unique monsters.

Currently, there are 722 official Pokémon that have been confirmed by Nintendo.

The nearly 800 monsters, draw upon the folklore from various cultures. Mawile, a fairy/steele-type monster, is loosely based on the Japanse legend of the Futakuchi-onna, a demon woman with a second mouth hidden in the back of her head, for example.

While some Pokémon are tied to myths, others are grounded in real-world cultures.

In particular, there just so happen to be a handful of pocket monsters with direct links to Latin America. Some of them are super cool and some of them are…well, pretty racist. But they’re all a part of the Pokémon legacy and you should know all about them.

Ludicolo

In typical Pokémon fashion, it’s difficult to tell what Ludicolo’s supposed to be exactly. It’s a pineapple. It’s a duck. It’s a man wearing a poncho and a sombrero who likes to sing and dance? At best, Ludicolo’s supposed to be a tribute to Mexican Mariachi. At worst, it’s just offensive. You decide.

Sigilyph

Sigilyph is a flying/psychic Pokémon first introduced in the Black and White games. Unlike most Pokémon, Sigilyph isn’t based on a specific animal, but rather a drawing of one. The monster’s design is inspired by the Nazca Lines, a set of artistic geoglyphs etched into the earth of the Nazca Desert in southern Peru.

Hawlucha

Hawlucha is definitely part of the Pokémon wall of fame. It’s a fighting/flying hawk-esque creature with an affinity for airborne wrestling moves inspired by lucha libre. Whereas Ludicolo came across as a slightly-racist reading of a cultural tradition, Hawlucha’s characterization tends to be much more respectful and celebratory. Also it’s just cool.

Wooper

This Pokémon is inspired by the axolotl, the amphibian endemic to the Mexican Basin, who can regenerate its own body. The Mexican-inspired monster is blue, and has a pair of antennae on its head —which are a clear reference to the gills of Axolotls.

Rayquaza

Rayquaza is a mixture of several mythological beings, but we gotta say that its resemblance to Quetzalcoatl is pretty evident. This is one of the most powerful Pokémon of the franchise’s universe, and there’s a colorful version in the Pokémon Go video game.

Maractus

For foreigners, the cactus is a very Mexican element, and Maractus is a Pokémon-cactus, its bright colors are reminiscent of Mexican culture. In addition, it shakes what would be its hands as if they were maracas, another very “Mexican” element for people —hence the name mar(acas)(ca)ctus.

Mew

When the first Pokémon games were released, Mew was something of an urban legend. When Mew’s existence was finally confirmed and the Pokémon was made available to the public, we learned that Mew was the original Pokémon from which all others descended.

In the first Pokémon movie, Mew’s described as being a psychic capable of learning all moves and transforming into other Pokémon. It’s also explained that researchers looking for the elusive monster eventually (and unknowingly) discover it in the jungles of Guyana. Ancient Guyanese cultures, it’s implied, encountered Mew often enough that they incorporated it into their local mythology, a concept that’s worth pointing out considering that Mew’s known for rendering itself invisible.

If You Are In Latin America For The Holidays, Here Are The Best Places To Celebrate New Year’s

Culture

If You Are In Latin America For The Holidays, Here Are The Best Places To Celebrate New Year’s

Pedro Szekely / Flickr

If you’ve ever celebrated New Year’s Eve, you know that it can get pretty loco, no matter where you are in the world! But while the U.S. is all champagne, loud dance music, twinkly lights, and wild parties, Latin America’s New Year’s looks different. In many different ways! Depending on where you are, you might be stuffing lentils in your pockets, wearing color-coded underwear, or burning elaborate dolls that resemble celebrities and wicked politicians. Latin America is a beautifully diverse region of the globe, and each country offers its own characteristic approach to ringing in the next solar cycle. To help narrow things down a little, we’ve gathered some of the most unique traditions that prove Latin America is a stellar place to celebrate El Año Nuevo.

All Over Mexico

Credit: Atamo Fireworks

Like many Spanish-speaking countries, New Year’s Eve in Mexico usually starts out with a family dinner. People gather with their closest peeps to eat a traditional meal with mole, tamales, bacalao, or lentils (depending on where they are—each region is pretty distinct, and Mexico is a huge country!). Once they’re good and fed, folks enjoy each other’s company until the clock strikes midnight—but at this pivotal moment, you better have your 12 lucky grapes on hand! Once they’ve made their 12 wishes, Mexicans step out into the night, mingling among outdoor fiestas in all the major plazas. Fireworks illuminate the dark sky for hours and hours. It’s a super vibrant setting to indulge in some of life’s greatest pleasures: friends, family, food, and drink!

Panama City, Panama

Credit: Pinterest

With gorgeous beaches, endless fireworks, and temperate tropical temperatures, Panama City is the ideal New Year’s destination (especially if you’re escaping frigid weather farther north!). The people of Panama sure know how to party—whether on the sandy shores of those gorgeous beaches, in vibrant clubs, discotheques, bars, or even on the street, there is sure to be a raging fiesta everywhere you turn.  In Panama, people create life-sized out of old clothes, which are meant to represent the past year. At midnight, the makers of these dolls burn them in a symbolic display of the whole “out with the old, in with the new” idea. Often, folks get really creative with their muñecos, crafting effigies that resemble political figures or celebrities. Talk about a fun, fiery way to say farewell to all of last year’s worst moments!

All Over Ecuador

Credit: YoTuT / Flickr

In Ecuador, people also know how to throw a good party. Ecuadorians also burn effigies that resemble Panama’s muñecos, but here a “muñeco” is known as an “año viejo.” But the mythology of the año viejo is a little more complex in Ecuador: along with the año viejos come las viudas, dudes who dress in drag and pretend to be the burned dolls’ widowed wives. These men—decked out in tight minifaldas, pantyhose, low-cut tops, and wigs—mill through the streets, asking for money to help support their now-fatherless families. It’s humorous, theatrical, and colorful: the perfect recipe for an entertaining eve!

Valparaíso, Chile

Credit: Pinterest

No matter where you are in the world, New Years isn’t New Years without fireworks—and the city of Valparaíso, Chile, has the largest, most grandiose New Years fireworks display in all of South America! (Back in 2007, this display won the Guinness World Records for setting off 16,000 fireworks.) If you’re a fan of serious skybound sparkles, this seaside city will absolutely dazzle you. Plus, it’s super accessible if you’re staying in the capital city of Santiago, which is also famous for its lively New Years fiesta culture.

Cuzco, Peru

Credit: Pedro Szekely / Flickr

Peru is known around the world for its impeccable approach to cuisine, and if you consider yourself a foodie of any sort, Cuzco is the place to be. Replete with restaurants overlooking the Plaza de Armas, it’s a beautiful setting in which to indulge all the delicacies the country has to offer—while still engaging with local traditions. As thousands of locals (and, inevitably, tourists) all gather in the Plaza, waiting for the impressive midnight fireworks display, you can enjoy a wide array of traditional and contemporary Peruvian dishes, ringing in the New Year with a delicious, nourishing meal.

Montevideo, Uruguay

Credit: Pinterest

On the afternoon New Year’s Eve, people in Montevideo gather in the Mercado del Puerto to celebrate in a really effervescent way—by literally pouring bottles of cider all over each other. And at the end of the workday, employees shred their calendar from the last year, tossing them out the windows like confetti. With drumlines, dancing, and generally high energy, the New Year’s celebrations begin early, ultimately culminating in lots of fireworks, bustling parties, and incredible dinners. Uruguayans normally eat lamb, lechon, or salmon on New Year’s, and you’re bound to find yourself an excellent feast in one of the many fine restaurants throughout the capital city.

READ: Make 2020 Your Year With These 5 Steps To Succeed At Your Resolutions