Food and Drinks in South America
The region of Patagonia (Argentina & Chile) is generally known for its amazing meat - not the least lamb. In the major steakhouses, you often see whole lamb "strung up" on round bonfire / barbecues in the windows. It looks somewhat grotesque and a little macabre, but it tastes fantastic, and the barbecue method makes it very tender. If you are in the region, it is a must to taste one of the specialties - "Patagonian lamb" - which is always accompanied by a very (too) sweet sauce.
© Luke Kenyon
Argentina is famous for a number of things. Football, gauchos, meat, mate and of course wine. On the western side of the country, at the foot of the Andes, is Mendoza, the wine capital of Argentina. The city itself is very European, with large squares and piazzas where people relax during their afternoon siesta. Just outside of the city, the landscape turns very green and lush, full of vineyards and breweries taking advantage of the ideal weather. Bike rental places are abundant, willing you to cruise around on your own wine tour. The roads are wide and the drivers relaxed which makes for a very leisurely ride through the tree covered avenues. One of the most produced wines in Mendoza is the Malbec, a heavy, full-bodied red wine that might have you riding on the wrong side of the road towards the afternoon.
In the Andean region of South America (Colombia, Ecuador and Peru), guinea pigs are not only considered cute, but also tasty. They are called cuy and can be bought roasted and ready for feasting from street vendors and road stalls. Let it be said that there is not an awful lot of meat on a guinea pig, but in return any part is eatable. As they are a delicacy, they are fairly expensive by local standards.
A large part of the population of Uruguay seems to have full control over only one arm and hand. You see people of all ages and backgrounds walking around with a thermos squeezed between arm and body and a yerba mate cup in the hand. It is not made from the tea plant, as some people think, but is an entirely different plant that grows in the area, which is then dried, cut fine and shredded. The taste is very strong and bitter and definitely takes some getting used to. It is custom to share with friends, and you are supposed to drink the full cup before refilling it and passing it on. The yerba mate is drunk out of a cup made out of a calabas called mate and with a bombilla, a metal straw, which filters the drink so that the pulp stays in the cup. It is drunk very hot, so if you burn yourself at the first try, you certainly won't be the only one!