Latin American and Spanish cuisines are, without a doubt, downright delicious! Each region has its own unique dishes and specialities that keep surprising you. Latin America’s cultural diversity is reflected in the gastronomy that includes ingredients from the coast, highland and jungle areas. Typical dishes from Latin America are empanadas, arepas and tortillas. Spanish cuisine is most famous for its paella. But there are hundreds and thousands of other lovey recipes for you to discover. Ready for some serious cooking? In this article, we will teach you Latin American and Spanish kitchen vocabulary in Spanish.
Latin America and Spain are home to a wide variety of culinary delights. Each uses a distinctive combination of the freshest local ingredients. Some of them are familiar (Olive oil for instance, or vegetables such as potatoes and tomatoes) while others are more exotic (Alpaca meat, cañihua grains or herbs such as huacatay).
|I – Spanish Cooking Vocabulary
Groceries – Abarrotes
|Jugo/ zumo||fruit juice|
|Agua mineral||mineral water|
Latin American cuisine: a melting pot
Different cultural influences have made Latin American cuisine as it is today: a lovely melting pot of flavours. First of all, there is the indigenous influence. Corn, beans and potatoes are native Latin American crops that are still very important for the local cuisine today. With the colonization, the Spaniards brought their culinary traditions to Latin America. Different kinds of meat, such as beef, were introduced to the local palata.
European, African and Asian Influence
Apart from European influences, there is more. The African influence on the gastronomy is still visible today. For example, the typical Peruvian dish tacu-tacu, was invented by slaves who had to get creative with the scraps of food the landlords did not eat.
A wave of Asian immigrants that came of Latin America later, such as China and Japan, also influenced Latin American cuisine; the Peruvian ‘chifa’ is a clear example of the inclusion of Chinese food in the Latin American kitchen and so is ‘lomo saltado’.
Spanish and South American Cuisine in the world
Today the Latin American and Spanish cuisine can be found throughout the whole world: from the Argentinean asado, to the Peruvian ceviche, to Mexican tacos and Spanish tapas. Latin American and Spanish cuisines are famous for their richness, both in culture and flavour. Local food represents the identity of a place. Food is what connects people to their roots, but food also brings people from all over the world together.
If you would like to learn more about Spanish-speaking countries and their culture, one of the best ways to do this is to get to know the local cuisine. So let’s start first with the necessary Spanish vocabulary and some phrases you will need for reading recipes and preparing delicious meals in Spanish!
Spanish phrases related to shopping
Are you learning Spanish kitchen vocabulary because you are living in a Spanish speaking country? If so, a few Spanish phrases related to grocery shopping will come in handy. And although certain vocabulary might be different in Mexico, Spain, Colombia or Chile, people will always understand with the following phrases.
|II – Spanish phrases related to grocery shopping|
|¿Dónde está la panadería / carnecería / pescadería?||Where is the baker / butcher / fishmonger?|
|¿Cuánto cuesta el kilo de pollo/tomates/?||How much is a kilo of chicken/tomatoes?|
|¿Es fresco / maduro / biológico?||Is this fresh / ripe / organic?|
|No encuentro el arroz, ya no hay?||I don’t see the rice, is it sold out?|
|Lo siento, está agotado.||I’m sorry, we are sold out.|
|¿Alguna cosa más? / ¿Algo más?||Anything else?|
|Es todo, gracias.||That’s all, thank you.|
|¿Cuánto es?||How much is it?|
|¿Cuánto cuesta?||How much does it cost?|
|Puedo pagar?||Can I pay please?|
|Por favor, puedo pagar con tarjeta?||I’d like to pay with card, please|
|Pago en efectivo.||I’ll pay with cash.|
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How to learn Spanish vocabulary related to cooking?
We have a few tips for you related to learning new Spanish vocabulary in general – and especially Spanish and Latin American kitchen vocabulary- quickly while you are learning more about Latin American and Spanish dishes at the same time.
- Label your kitchen supplies in Spanish (below is a list of kitchen supplies)*
Stick labels on everything in your kitchen, from the oven to a wine glass. If you also put these on foods, you will learn even more!
- Find Latin American or Spanish recipes online
Look on the internet for recipes of Latin American or Spanish dishes in Spanish. With a dictionary on your mobile phone, it will be easy to understand. Of course, you can also watch a tutorial in Spanish, to boost your Spanish skills even more. Learn Spanish while cooking is an excellent combination of fun and learning. While you learn new vocabulary, you learn Spanish, and enjoy delicious dishes right away and feel the Latin American/Spanish flavours.
- Learn about your favourite Latin American food item
Are you completely addicted to coffee? Or are you one of those people who cannot survive without a daily piece of chocolate? Both coffee and cocoa are native to Latin America and are still essential export products of several countries in Latin America. There are a few interesting books about this in Spanish as well as fascinating documentaries on YouTube!
Learn with our recommended (e-)books on Latin American food products:
‘Quinua, cinco continentes’ about quinoa,
‘castañas de Galicia’ about chestnuts,
‘9 recetas llenas de aguacates’ about the avocado and
‘Reinventando la aceituna en 50 recetas’ about olives.
Watch recommended Videos on Youtube about Latin American food:
‘De cacao y chocolate: reviviendo una tradición en Panamá’
‘Cacao: el fruto del cambio (Colombia)’ about cacao.
‘El aguacate – El lado oscuro del superalimento (Chile)’ about avocado.
‘Ecuador: ¿el fin del plátano?’ about bananas.
‘El nuevo oro de Uruguay’ about olives.
- Learn Spanish on Youtube with videos about Latin American Cooking
Many of the very best Latin American and Spanish chefs have online channels on Youtube where they share their recipes of Latin American and Spanish dishes with the rest of the world. This is a selection of the very best YouTube cooking channels!
- Gastón Acurio is without any doubt the most famous Peruvian chef. He is an important representative of the Peruvian cuisine. You can see the cooking video and complete recipe of 43 delicious typical Peruvian dishes you have to try! There are recipes for arroz chaufa, ceviche, ají de gallina, escabeche, anticuchos, parihuela, papa a la huancaina and much more!
- Mikel Zulueta is a Chilean chef who has demonstrated his innate talent since his beginnings in the gastronomy field. On his new You Tube channel ‘Cocina sin frontera’ which means cuisine without borders, you can see some extensive and very happy videos of some delicious recipes. Because of the Chilean accent, sometimes it can be a bit hard to understand the Mikel’s Spanish.
- José Ramón Castillo is a Mexican chocolatier who in 2019 became famous after being part of the television program Master Chef México as one of the judges. On his You Tube channel, you can find all kinds of Mexican recipes, from tacos to banderillas and international recipes, from mac and cheese to pizza.
- Sumito Estevez is the most famous chef from Venezuela. He is generally recognized in Latin America because of the cooking program he had at El Gourmet. On his channel he is putting weekly new cooking videos, like the famous Venezulean arepa, but you can also find practical cooking advice and interviews. In general, his channel is the perfect source to get to know the excellent Venozolan food culture.
- Cocina Abierta is a cooking channel from the Spanish TV cooks Karlos and Eva Arguiñan. It is a great channel to learn to cook some delicious Spanish recipes.But they also share the best recipes of other cooks, such as the famous Mexican cook Bruno Oteiza. The playlist with the cooking techniques is also very interesting!
- The Mexican chef Sonia Ortiz was born in Monterrey and began cooking from a very young age. Sonia became famous on social networks, where she gained an immense popularity for her simple and tasty recipes. Her You Tube cooking channel is called ‘Cocina al natural’ which means cooking naturally. There is a whole playlist devoted to cooking with corn with recipes for tamales and more. Very Mexican indeed!
- Silvana Cocina is a Chilean ‘foodtuber’ who has over 1.3 million followers. Her easy and delicious recipes will surprise your family and friends. She makes both sweet and salty dishes and there is a playlist with Christmas recipes.
- Aprendiendo a cocinar como mamá is a cooking channel for kids to learn how to cook typical Peruvian dishes. But it is also a very interesting cooking channel for Spanish students because the recipes are very well explained in very clear Spanish. Although this channel is not from a famous chef, we can really recommend it!
- Learn Spanish with books about Latin American Cooking
If you prefer the “old fashion cookbooks”, there are endless options for you! Here some great cooking books from the publisher Phaidon, the best option to explore the great cuisines of Latin America and Spain!
- ‘Perú. Gastronomía.’ by Gastón Acurio
This is the definitive bible of Peruvian home cooking from the hand of one of its most famous and popular chefs, the great Gastón Acurio. It presents for the first time more than 500 Peruvian homemade recipes to a worldwide audience: from quinoa to ceviche, from gluten-free amaranth to yellow pepper, Peruvian food is healthy and uses unique ingredients in an original way. The book is also available in English under the title ‘Perú. The cookbook.’
- ‘México. Gastronomía’ by Margarita Carrillo Arronte
Mexico: gastronomy is the definitive Bible of Mexican home cooking with more than 700 authentic recipes that are easy to follow at home. From tasty tacos to cheese enchiladas or sweet tamales, these recipes are a celebration of fresh ingredients from a country whose cuisine is revered throughout the world. The book exists both in Spanish and in English.
- ‘Cuba. Gastronomía.’ by Madelaine Vazquez Galvez and Imogene Tondre
Cuba’s two leading culinary experts compiled 350 tested recipes, organized by course, with explanations of Cuban ingredients and substitution suggestions. The book shows you vibrant plated food photographs and magnificent atmospherics vividly bringing the Cuban experience to life.
- ‘Spain. The cookbook’ by Simone and Inés Ortega
This is the English version of the emblematic ‘1080 recetas de cocina’. Spanish cooks have trusted and relied upon this bible of traditional home cooking ever since it was first published over 40 years ago. This bestselling classic is a friendly and approachable book for all home cooks and covers every Spanish dish you could ever wish to make.
- ‘Perú. Gastronomía.’ by Gastón Acurio
III – Spanish vocabulary: Kitchen supplies
|frigorífico / el refrigerador||the fridge|
|plato||plate / dish|
|taza||cup / mug|
|1 cucharada||table spoon|
|1 pisca (de sal)||a pinch (of salt)|
|Spices in Spanish|
|Nuez Moscado||nut meg|
|1 hoja (de laurel)||(bay) leaf|
Cooking in Spanish: let’s start
Now that you have learnt quite a bit of Spanish and Latin American kitchen vocabulary, are you ready to start preparing amazing dishes? And you prepared for reading Spanish recipes or South American recipes in Spanish?
With this final list of important Spanish verbs related to cooking, you can start to cook using recipes in Spanish.
|IIII – Spanish cooking verbs|
|Calentar||to heat up|
|Cocinar al vapor||to steam|
|Mezclar||to mix / blend|
|Rebozar||to batter / coat|
|Reservar||to set aside|
|Templar||to cool off|
V – Spanish phrases related to cooking
A few final useful phrases for you if you are reading Spanish recipes, you are listening to a Youtube tutorial or maybe cooking with a native Spanish speaker.
Agrega un chorrito de aceite y mezcla bien
Bate las claras de huevo a punto de nieve
Calienta el aceite en un sartén.
Hornea el pastel a 180 grados.
Sazona tu carne para la parilla.
|Let’s get cooking.
Add a splash of oil and mix well.
Beat the egg whites untill stiff
Heat the oil in a frying pan
Bake the cake at 180 degrees.
Season your meat for the grill.
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