Cooking By Feel: Latin American Ingredients and Flavors

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Happy Cinco de Mayo! It’s May 5th, and in honor of the Mexican holiday that may actually be more important in the States than elsewhere, we’re going to nevertheless look at Mexican and other Latin American flavors.

We’re still looking at cooking without recipes, here in the last two weeks of the Kitchn Cure, and Latin American ingredients and flavors are one of our favorite food families to improvise with. It’s just so easy to make up new things with a little rice, beans, corn, tomatoes, and herbs. These staples of Central and South America are wonderfully delicious and nutritious, and we turn to them frequently.

Of course, like the Asian, Indian and even Italian ingredient and flavor lists we already posted, there’s a huge range of regional flavors and diversity. We in no way mean to disregard that; one of the really pleasurable things about cooking is discovering unique and authentic specialities native to very specific areas.

These are just a few of the broad flavor strokes common to much of Latin America, and as such they can help you mix, match, and improvise as you look for new inspiration and ideas for your homemade meals.

Flavors and Ingredients
• Cilantro
• Oregano
• Tomatoes
• Chilies
• Squash
• Peppers
• Onions
• Garlic
• Cumin
• Chile pepper, such as chipotle
• Lime
• Pineapple and other tropical fruits
• Avocado
• Bananas and plantains
• Sweet potatoes

Meal Basics
• Rice
• Tortillas – Corn and wheat
• Black beans and other kinds of beans

OK – what did we miss? We love cooking all sorts of Mexican and Latin American mash-ups; tomatoes and beans are the top of our favorites list. Are you cooking Mexican (or Tex-Mex!) for Cinco de Mayo? Have a margarita at least…

(Images: Faith Hopler and Nora Maynard)