Some tacos aren’t as Mexican as you think. And medialunas aren’t so Argentine either. For centuries, cultural exchanges have shaped cooking techniques and recipes across the globe, including food from Latin America. Without those cultural exchanges, these nine dishes wouldn’t be quite as tasty:
Mexican Tacos al Pastor
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When Lebanese immigrants moved to Mexico, they gave the taco a Middle Eastern twist. Using the same cooking method as shawarma – roasting meat on a spit and shaving off thin slices – tacos al pastor are the perfect example of two cultures coming together to create a signature Latino dish.
Peruvian Lomo Saltado
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After arriving in Peru during the 1920s, Chinese immigrants had trouble finding ingredients they were accustomed to using. They improvised. They took Peruvian food like arroz con pollo and prepared it via stir fry. Chifa cuisine was born.
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Argentinian cuisine wasn’t only influenced by Italy and Spain. There’s also a German influence that led to the creation of an Argentinian breakfast staple. The croissant, brought by German immigrants, became the medialuna and was modified to fit the Argentinian palate.
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Nigerian slaves brought akara, balls of fire, to Brazil. The deep fried bean cakes became known as acarajé and are still a popular street food. They’re usually stuffed with spicy paste or salad.
Cuban Fufú de Platanos, Puerto Rican Mofongo & Dominican Republic Mangú
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Caribbean food is an intense blend of European, African and indigenous foods. Fufú, originally from Ghana, inspired three dishes: Puerto Rico’s mofongo, the Dominican Republic’s mangú and Cuba’s fufú de platanos. All three Caribbean dishes feature mashed plantains, garlic and pork (usually chicharrón).
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German immigrants didn’t just bless Argentina with medialunas, they also brought kuchen to Chile. Kuchen, the German word for cake, are cakes that usually contain fruit and a custard-like filling.
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Venezuelans loved Italian lasagna so much that they had to make their own. The Venezuelan version ditches ricotta cheese in favor of béchamel (butter, flour and milk sauce) and sometimes features eggplant and sliced ham.
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If you order pizza in Uruguay, you’re going to get some fainá along with it. It’s a garbanzo-based flatbread inspired by Italy’s farinata. If you’re watching those carbs, skip the pizza and get some toppings on your fainá instead.