Food in South America
In a recent Portrait of American Travelers study, it was noted that 67% of American travelers now express an interest in experiencing foreign foods. That is up from 51% just 2 years ago. Millenials showed the most interest while mature travelers showed the least interest. I wonder if that is partially due to tv celebrities like Andrew Zimmern and Anthony Bourdain who travel around the world eating local food? At any rate, it seems that will eventually hurt the malls I've seen in foreign countries that have nothing but American fast food restaurants in them.
South America is definitely an area where local chefs are developing cuisines that are evolving and enticing travelers.
Of course Peru has gained notoriety for a number of years as having some of the best food in the world, with restaurants in Lima in the lead. Now even some of the luxury Amazon cruise boats have top-rated chefs creating their culinary offerings. Several different chefs are offering cooking classes in Lima and of course there are foodie day tours. If you go south to Ica, you can also visit the wineries that produce pisco for the famous Pisco Sours. I sampled about 11 different types one day before my guide joked that now we are going to go to the karaoke bar.
Now Ecuador is promoting some of its food items (I've always loved Ecuadorian ceviche and had some delicious cuy at one of the lodges I stayed at). Did you know that Quito is becoming a craft beer hotbed? And that chocolate, whose origins were born in Ecuador 5,000 years ago, is coming on strong again, with the country now exporting 63% of the world's Fine Aroma Cacao, which is the most valued type. Operators are developing tourist routes for chocolate to see how it is produced, how it is affecting local communities, etc.. Restaurants are developing special chocolate dishes and some spas are featuring chocolate spa treattments
Food from the Amazon is also being featured. The chef at one of the top restaurants in Lima is featuring dishes with jungle ingredients. An visitors to some Amazon lodges and on Amazon cruises in Ecuador are offered the chance to see how local dishes are made and then can have a typical lunch featuring those dishes. It's amazing what good food can be made with the simplest of ingredients and utensils!
Not to be left out, operators in Chile and Argentina offer cooking tours, tasting tours and wine tours. That is big business in the wine valleys outside of Santiago and and Mendoza, where many of the winery restaurants serve organic food grown in their own gardens, but of course there are restaurants in Santiago and Buenos Aires that will delight you with creations from ingredients brought in from the countryside. And there's nothing like traditional asado in Patagonia
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Jim has been an agent for over 20 years and has specialized in South America for much of that time