Many foods originated in Latin America and then spread around the globe, becoming essential ingredients of world cuisines. Learning about food from Latin America is an opportunity to learn language, geography and culture.
The infographic below is a tool for talking about food from Latin America with Spanish learners. I chose a selection of familiar foods, but there are others like quinoa, vanilla and lima beans that you may want to mention too.
Experts generally agree on the origin for the foods I chose. However, even with this limited set, origin isn’t straightforward, and our knowledge is constantly evolving. Some plants have two independent origins, while others originated in one place and were cultivated in another. For example, the Mapuche and Huilliche Indians of Chile first cultivated strawberries. These plants were later transported to England and crossed with another variety to develop the garden strawberry.
These general categories of origin for food from Latin America serve well for language learning purposes. If students are interested in learning more, there are excellent resources online. The interactive map Origin of Crops from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture is a good place to start.
You can find more activities with Spanish food vocabulary here. In addition, these different ways to say delicious are a good way to expand a discussion of food words. Both these sets of activities about fruit in Spanish and vegetables in Spanish include picture cards and a beautiful video.
This video about food originally from South America is a great way to practice listening and learn more about the 5 foods on the infographic.
These are the foods from Latin America on the infographic and picture cards:
Mexico and Central America
Maíz – Corn
Aguacate – Avocado
Calabaza – Pumpkin
Chile – Chile Pepper
Papaya – Papaya
Chocolate – Chocolate
Tomate – Tomato
Papa – Potato
Maní/Cacahuate – Peanut
Fresa – Strawberry
Camote – Sweet potato
Piña – Pineapple
Food From Latin America Infographic
Download a printable version of the Food from Latin America infographic.
Download a printable version of the Food from Latin America infographic with a white background.
Learn Vocabulary with Food From Latin America
You can use the infographic to practice question words and vocabulary related to the food from Latin America. These are examples of the kinds of questions you can ask students.
¿Te gusta el aguacate?
¿De dónde viene la calabaza?
¿Cuál es una comida que viene de Sudamérica?
¿Cuál de las comidas de Sudamérica te gusta mucho?
¿Cuál de las comidas de Sudamérica es roja, dulce y pequeña?
¿Cuál de las comidas se asocia con el otoño? (¿Con Halloween?)
¿Cuál de las comidas se usa para preparar tortillas? ¿Para preparar guacamole?
¿Para preparar una salsa picante?
- Print 2 copies of the picture cards and play Memory to practice vocabulary.
- Sort the picture cards onto maps of Mexico – Central America and South America. Mention each food as you sort: La papa viene de Sudamérica.
- Identify traditional dishes made from the food from Latin America on the infographic (corn tortillas, guacamole, salsa, tamales, etc.)
- Learn more about traditional dishes made from these foods such as papas a la huancaina, picarones, or mole.
Picture Cards of Food From Latin America
You can download picture cards of the food from Latin America here.