Latin Americans do not celebrate Easter, that is they don’t do it the same way as the rest of the world does. Here, the most famous and more important festivity is “Semana Santa”(Holy Week) – a week of reflection and celebrations that starts on Sunday (the Sunday before Easter) or “Domingo de Ramos” when the streets of many Latin American cities are filled with people carrying olive tree branches or “palma” (hand made-see image) and statues, as in a pilgrimage.
This religious week, in which the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is remembered, is lived intensely with a variety of celebrations and processions. And of course gastronomy is of great importance during this time of the year; not all food is allowed on the table, so people decide to stay at home and be with their families cooking traditional foods.
Tradition changes from country to country, but, as many things in Latin American traditions are very related to food, let’s review some of places where you should definitely go and indulge:
Bolivia: One of their signature dishes is the Trout served along with a tubercle called “caya” and hot potatoes. The “Humacha” cheese is also very popular, it includes cheese, onions, beans, marigold and potatoes. Intrerestingly, in some places of Bolivia it is believed that God is dead and He cannot see what happens in the world, so small theft of agricultural products (fruit or potatoes) is allowed.
Ecuador: Fanesca, is a traditional soup. It’s believed that Fanesca was prepared by Mary and the apostles after Jesus was crucified. The traditional soup, which certainly is not for every stomach, is commonly prepared with vegetables, cereals, 12 grains, and salted cod. It may be accompanied by “molo” (mashed potatoes) and fresh figs served with cheese.
Paraguay: The “tatakua” (clay oven in Guarani) is used to prepare meat and soup, consumed evoking the “Karu guasú” (Last Supper). The traditional “chipá” a cake based on milk, cheese, eggs, oil and salt, is also popular as it will be their only food during Fasting Friday.
Argentina: Easter eggs and Easter bread “Rosca de Pascua” a decorated, ring-shaped loaf of bread are consumed. Also the typical pastry “Empanadas de vigilia” stuffed with tuna, are also prepared. Any vegetables and salads accompany fish in the popular Argentinean BBQs.
Peru: At Easter, Peruvian families prepare fish, both fried or in soup, and their traditional “ceviche” also known as ceviche or seviche – seafood that is marinated with lime juice, is always present on the table.
Mexico: Fish is also traditional in Mexico, as well as the traditional “romeritos”- a kind of regional plant, cooked in the “mole“, a complex sauce made of various species of chili, bread, chocolate, spices. Potato cakes made with dried shrimp or tuna are also very popular.
Latin America is not only a fascinating place but is also famous for its different cultures, ethnicities and traditions. As in every other location in the world, and regardless of the individual beliefs: Food and traditions bring people together in order to celebrate not only ancient or religious customs, but also love and family.
Happy Semana Santa to all Latin Americans! And also Happy Easter to all!
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