Guatemala Cuisine and Coffee

Although Guatemala does not have one national dish, many foods have emerged as diet staples for everyday use. As it was during Mayan times, corn continues to be a staple. Most often it is made into tortillas, served warm and wrapped in cloth. Another Mayan food, black beans, are also widely consumed, often at every meal. They are prepared in a variety of ways, from refried to mashed to simply eaten whole. Other staples include rice, eggs, and cheese.

As in the U.S., the most popular proteins are chicken, turkey, and beef. These are normally served with beans and rice and are prepared roasted, grilled, or fried. They can also be cooked into stews. Pepian is a thick stew with meat and vegetables that is especially common in Antigua. Delicious seafood can be found on the coasts, prepared roasted, grilled, or fried, with a variety of spices. Although more caloric snacks such as doughnuts are popular (similar to the U.S.), an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables help to maintain a healthy diet. It is not difficult to fit in the daily portion of fruits and vegetables when options like fresh mangoes, papayas, bananas, yucca, and plantains are available almost year-round.

Coffee is a large industry in Guatemala, and the region produces some of the best in the world. A trip to Guatemala should definitely include taking the time to sample the rich local coffees and their dark flavors. There are seven distinct types of Arabica coffee in Guatemala, distinctive in taste due to their soil, altitude, humidity, and rainfall. Travelers to Guatemala will therefore have no trouble finding a range of exceptional coffee, and may even be able to see a coffee finca or two, as well as mounds of beans drying in the sun and smell their distinct aroma. Other common refreshments include licuados, which are sweetened fruit juice mixed with water or milk, as well as soft drinks.

The following are a few popular dishes that travelers should try during their Guatemala tour:

Churrasco - charcoal-grilled center-cut beef tenderloin steak

Chiles Rellenos - Roasted fresh green Anaheim, poblano or pasilla chili pepper stuffed with a melting cheese and meat made up of diced pork, raisins, and nuts, covered in an egg batter, and fried. It is often served in a tomato sauce.

Platanos – Also called plantains, these starchier, less sweet relatives of the banana can be part of every meal. When harvested before they are ripe, they can take the place of potatoes in meals, and are especially delicious when mashed and fried in round pieces, then lightly salted. This preparation is called tostones. When ripe, they can make delicious desserts, possibly baked with milk, sugar, and cinnamon.