When making a trip to Guatemala, you have to try its popular dishes. Guatemalan food mixes Mayan traditions with colonial influences, making for an interesting and varied cuisine. Here is a list of the most popular foods in Guatemala you can’t miss.
Popular foods in Guatemala
Fiambre is the most famous dish from Guatemala, a large salad that is traditionally prepared for the Day of the Dead and All Saints’ Day. It is consumed in the memory of the loved ones who have passed away. The salad can have as many as 50 ingredients in it, such as sliced meat, cheese, vegetables, pickles, and hard-boiled eggs.
There are numerous varieties of the salad, such as fiambre rojo, made with beets, and fiambre blanco, made without beets. Fiambre verde is a vegetarian version, while fiambre desarmado is prepared in a way to make all of the ingredients separate, allowing the consumers to combine ingredients according to their personal preference.
2. Pollo en crema
Pollo en crema is a popular Guatemalan dish that is also popular in El Salvador and Mexico. It consists of chicken breasts that are drenched in a rich, creamy sauce made with loroco (edible green flowers), chayote or zucchini, yellow potatoes, green chile peppers, onions, and cream.
This comforting, lightly spicy dish is often served with rice and corn tortillas on the side.
Mixtas are popular foods in Guatemala. Mixtas are Guatemalan version of hot dogs, sold from numerous food carts throughout the country. What makes mixtas unique is the fact that the sausages are not placed in buns, but in tortillas.
The dish is always made with fresh and inexpensive ingredients, so mixtas are usually filled with lime-dressed coleslaw, onions, diced tomatoes, guacamole, and green chiles.
Tamales are the most prominent Guatemalan food, not because they are unique to the country, they are in fact very common across Latin America but because in Guatemala they are taken to a whole new level with complex recipes featuring various ingredients.
Tamales can be distinguished by the ingredients used to make the dough that makes the central part of a tamal, by the filling, and by what is used to wrap it around for cooking. The dough for a tamal in Guatemala can be made using the traditional corn masa but it can also be made with mashed potatoes or rice flour. They are then called patches and traditionally eaten on Thursday.
Some of the most popular fillings for tamales are chicken and beef with vegetables in corn dough and wrapped in banana leaves. Sweet tamales filled with corn, sugar, nuts, and dried fruits are also common.
Tortillas are made using the same corn masa used for tamales only they are flattened out with the hands and then cooked over a comal grill. A comal is a sort of flat round griddle that is heated with coal or wood and used to make tortillas and other foods that need to be toasted crispy. You can add oil to the surface to ensure nothing gets stuck.
These are individuals and stores that make and sell fresh tortillas at the three meal times, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It is common for people to then warm them up in the oven or pan at home and serve them wrapped in a cloth to keep the moisture and warmth.
Empanadas are crispy, buttery pastries that are perfect for lunch on the go.
Throughout Central America, these usually have a meat filling, but in Guatemala, most are vegetarian and filled with potato and spinach, and covered with a variety of toppings such as guacamole, tomatoes, onion, and cilantro.
For those with a sweet tooth, make sure you try some rellenitos. Essentially Guatemalan donuts, rellenitos are made up of cooked plantains mashed with refried bean paste, sugar, and cinnamon, and then they are deep-fried. When mixed with sugar, both the beans’ taste and texture are similar to chocolate, and the consistency of the rellenitos is incredibly moreish.
Hilachas is a staple of Guatemalan cuisine, a red-colored stew featuring ingredients such as shredded beef and vegetables such as tomatoes, potatoes, squash, or carrots. The name of the dish means shreds or rags, referring to shredded beef, which is the star of hilachas.
It is believed that the stew tastes even better when reheated the next day. Hilachas can be found in numerous versions throughout Latin America, and it is typically served with rice and beans on the side.