My favorite Guatemalan cookies! Champurradas are flat, sweet, crunchy, vanilla cookies with sesame seeds on top. They are perfect to dip into the delicious Guatemalan coffee or tea. The secret ingredient of the champurrada is corn flour, which gives the cookies their typical Guatemalan taste. They are easy to make, so go try it out! (Click on every food title to get a recipe!)
I am definitely not a fan of this one, but it is a typical Guatemalan drink so it has to be on this list. In Guatemala, there are about 30 different types of atol, but the ones I’ve had were the atol de arroz y leche (milk and rice atol), atol blanco (white atol), atol de elote (corn atol) and atol de maiz (also corn atol, but then different). Atol is a warm drink made out of milk, water, sugar, cinnamon and a bit of salt. And then whatever type of atol you want to make. Guatemalans usually drink it when we Europeans or Americans drink hot chocolate: when it’s cold outside. And yes, it can be really cold here in Guate! Here’s a little recipe on how to make Atol de Elote.
You can find shucos anywhere on the streets of Guatemala City. That is also the reason why they are called ‘shuco’, which means ‘dirty’. Dirty from all the gases that come out of the cars, the flies, the air, the sun, the people that sell them… And that is álso the reason why I’ve never had them. Shucos are Guatemalan hotdogs made with sausage (of course), guacamole, mustard, jalapeños, beef, mayonaise, cilantro, ketchup, cheese and sometimes chorizo. I can’t eat streetfood without dying, so no shucos for me this time!
Rellenitos are made out of my two least favorite things from the Guatemalan cuisine: black beans and plantains. They are basically mashed plantains filled with sweet black beans and cinnamon. Don’t ask me who came up with this idea, but when you do it right, they kind of look like little fried dumplings that you can eat as a snack or as dessert. The weirdest thing about this recipe is that you have to cook the plantains (for people who don’t know what this is: it’s a big banana) in their skin. Rellenitos are served with sour cream and a little sugar. They look good in the pictures, but I can not imagine that anything that contains black beans can be delicious. Maybe it’s time to try them!
- Elotes locos
Elotes locos, ‘crazy corn’, another one of the most repelling Guatemalan chucherias, snacks. An elote loco is basically a super hot corn cob smeared with mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, cilantro, tomato salsa, cheese, salt, chile and black pepper to make it a little more tasty. Again, I can’t really imagine you like to eat this, but as you’ve probably noticed by now, Guatemalans like to eat weird (yeah, different) things.
Another thing that I actually sometimes like are tamales, but it depends on what is inside of the dough. Tamales are either made from corn, rice or potato dough and steamed in plantain or corn leaves. A chuchito is made with corn leaves, while a pache is made of potato and steamed in plantain leaves. A tamale is often filled with meat, but I’ve also had some with chicken. Tamales are eaten a lot in the rural areas, because corn is very cheap in Guatemala. A tamale is almost 80% dough and 20% meat (because meat is more expensive) and it is often served with a tomato salsa.
The only things you need to make this dish are toasted tortillas with either avocado, a black bean mash or beetroot, tomato sauce, unions, white cheese and parsley or cilantro to give it some more taste. I actually really like the ones with tomato salsa and chicken! They are often served as a snack during celebrations and you can find them on the streets too. They even serve them here in the office sometimes when there are important meetings.
Ceviche is not typical Guatemalan, because the Spaniards brought it to the Americas. But you can find it in literally every street. Just look for a cevicheria and you can enjoy this dish. Ceviche is made from raw fish and seafood and it is served with lime juice, tomato sauce, avocado, onions and cilantro. Because the food is raw, you need to be really careful not to end up with food poisoning. The risk is especially high when you buy it on the street, but there are also professional restaurants that sell this dish. I don’t think it suprises you when I say that I find seafood absolutely disgusting, so I always avoid this when it is offered to me.
- Carnitas y chicharones
Carnitas (little meat) are actually just pieces of pork shoulder, baked in a lot of salt, onion, garlic and chile powder. I ate it at a church meeting once, where it was served with tortillas, lime juice, guacamole and some extra onions. Very delicious and it was a pity my stomach felt so full too soon! Chicharones are pieces of roasted, deep-fried pig skin, seasoned with salt (and some chile and lime if you want). You can actually just buy them as chips in the supermarket. I don’t really like them, but sometimes they are good when I crave something salty.
Pepián is one of the four national dishes of Guatemala and I must say, it’s not bad. It is a thick meaty, spicy stew with chicken, beef or pork and it is served with rice, potato, carrot and güisquil. One of the best places to eat it is El Rincón Típico in Antigua.