Latin American Easter Traditions: A Foodie’s Guide

A joyful black family engages in Easter festivities; a child with focused attention, parents smiling warmly, with colorful Easter eggs and a charming bunny decoration adorning the table.
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Easter is a major celebration the world over, but perhaps none celebrate it more heartily in the kitchen than Latin America. While most Latin Americans attend church on Good Friday, many opt for a more festive (and loud!) celebration, gathering in unison together to sing, dance, and even set off firecrackers.

Of course, Easter festivities are also steeped in rich culinary traditions bearing deep-rooted cultural and religious significance.

A Latin American Easter meal opens the door to myriad options, given the wide range of countries with delectable cuisine to borrow from. Latin American Easter dishes are the culmination of a unique blend of indigenous and European influences, bringing an incredible depth to the various dishes, drinks, and desserts largely reserved for religious dates.

By country, the following are just some of the better-known foods Latin American countries look forward to during Easter celebrations.

  • Mexico‘s pescado zarandeado is a classic grilled fish dish, centered around a chili-marinated red snapper and traditionally roasted on a wooden mangrove grill. Afterwards, Mexican households often enjoy a sweet and savory bread pudding called capirotada, best served warm.
  • Guatemala is known for fiambre, lovingly referred to as the “mother of all salads.” Fiambre carries far-reaching religious significance and is served on all of: Easter, Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), and Día de Todos Santos (All Saint’s Day).
  • Peru is home to nearly 4,000 varieties of potatoes, so it’s no surprise their ‘causa rellena’ (a type of layered potato dish) is named after an Incan word for “giver of life.” Indigenous corn is another a hallmark of the Peruvian diet, to which the purple roasted corn and fruit pudding ‘mazamorra morada’ is a delicious testament.
  • Argentina‘s ‘rosca de Pascua’ literally translates to Easter bread, a delightful concoction of pastry cream, fruit, and nuts (and sometimes chocolate eggs, no less!). On Good Friday or Easter Sunday, Argentinians often feast on empanadas de vigilia, a type of tuna, egg, and spinach empanada that might just become your new favorite brunch staple.
  • Brazil Easter cuisine features a traditional Portuguese dish called bacalhau à brás, made of salted cod, onions, potatoes, and eggs. Pacoca de amendoim, peanut candy, is also enormously popular, giving children much to look forward to when Easter arrives.

In Latin America, the Easter beverages are as savory as the cuisine. Some are so rich and creamy, they even seem like dessert-level concoctions.

That’s certainly true of Mexico’s well-known horchata, a rice and almond drink rounded off with its signature cinnamon-vanilla flavor. If that whets your appetite, you’ll also love refresco de semilla de marañón, a slightly sweeter cashew fruit beverage enjoyed in Guatemala.

For something truly unique, try chicha morada, a Peruvian purple corn drink that’s as beautiful as it is aromatic, with a distinguished, slightly ‘rustic’ or earthy flavor.

As Latin American children (and the young at heart) can attest, you’re in for a treat when Easter arrives. Dulce de leche is a thick, milky caramel-like confection, which Argentinian bakers use as a pastry frosting or sundae topping. All it requires is sweetened condensed milk, sugar, and any confectionary spices you might desire.

Tres Leches Cake is another popular option that’s enjoyed throughout Central America, and the chocolate egg tradition largely originated in Latin America, where it’s still enjoyed to this day.

With so many great options, you could explore the rich Easter culinary traditions of Latin America without end! Best of all, you don’t need to go far to secure all the Latin-inspired Easter cuisine ingredients, because International Fresh Market has it all.

Stop by our Naperville ethnic grocery store, and expand your palette this Easter (and any time of the year!). Your taste for novelty will thank you.

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