Carnival will soon be here! Most likely you know it as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday — the final blowout before Lent begins and you give up meat and/or other pleasures until Easter. For Latinos, Carnival is a beautiful celebration. Come join in. Here are some fun facts about Carnival in Latin America and some traditional Latin American dishes you can try so you don't feel like you're completely missing out.
Fun Fact #1
Carnival is celebrated during the month of February or early March, but specific dates for the celebration vary from year-to-year as it is a moveable feast in the Catholic calendar. This year it will be celebrated from Feb. 13-17. Celebrations always conclude on the Tuesday (Mardi Gras aka Fat Tuesday) before Ash Wednesday.
Fun Fact #2
Even though Carnival is synonymous with Latin America, the holiday didn’t actually originate there as most are led to believe. Influence and popularity of such a holiday date back to the celebrations of the Greek festivals honoring the Greek god Dionysus and Roman festivals for Bacchus.
Fun Fact #3
So what does “Carnival” or “Carnaval” — as it’s spelled in Spanish — actually mean? The word is derived from the Latin word “carnelevarium,” which roughly translates “removal of the meat.” Hence, why the holiday precedes the start of Lent — when historically Catholics abstained from eating meat and other rich foods for 40 days until Easter Sunday.
Fun Fact #4
In recent years Carnival has started to be celebrated in more locations around the world due to its popularity, but more for partying and less for religious reasons.
Fun Fact #5
Latin American countries host some of the biggest Carnival celebrations in the world; the biggest and the most famous being Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro Carnival. Not far behind are the celebrations in Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay, and Peru.
Here comes the food...
Maybe this article inspired you to want travel to one of these locations for Carnival, or maybe, if you are Latino, you long to revisit your native country. We certainly can’t take you there, but what we can do is bring a little taste of Latin America to your table in these festive times through the following seven traditional recipes:
Fried or baked- everyone loves empanadas! Prepare this Hunt’s Beef Empanadas Tucuman Style recipe to fill all your empanada needs this Carnival.
Water + rice + Reddi-Wip®= A little bit of Latin American heaven.
Say it with me now: “seh-vee-che.” This citrusy dish is very popular in Ecuador but now you can enjoy it in the comfort of your home.
Salchi what? It’s salchipapas! Try Hunt’s Franks with Fries Latin-inspired recipe for a dish that’s kid and adult friendly.
If you’re feeling a little bold try making Hunt’s Sautéed Beef Tenderloin recipe; a typical Peruvian dish with Asian influence.
No Latin food list would be complete without a recipe with rice and beans. Which is why we included a Latin classic.
No one can resist these Venezuelan favorites! For this recipe, the Latin cornbread is topped with avocado, queso blanco, chorizo, diced tomatoes, and scrambled eggs.