The natives of southern Brazil and Paraguay spread the pineapple throughout South America, and it eventually reached the Caribbean. Columbus discovered it in the Indies and brought it back with him to Europe. The Spanish introduced it into the Philippines, Hawaii and Guam. The pineapple was introduced to Hawaii in 1813; exports of canned pineapples began in 1892. Large scale pineapple cultivation by U.S. companies began in the early 1900s in Hawaii. Among the most famous and influential pineapple industrialists was James Dole, who started a pineapple plantation in Hawaii in the year 1900, which continues to this day.
Pineapple contains the enzyme bromelain, which breaks down protein so it is a good tenderizer of meats and since its sweetness goes well with white meats it is a good ingredient in marinades for pork or poultry.
ENGLISH NAME: Pineapple
LOCAL NAMES: Piña, Ananas, Abacaxi (Brazil)
PRODUCTS: Canned pineapple, Pineapple marmalade, Dry pineapple rings
NUTRIENTS: Pineapple is a good source of manganese, as well as Vitamin C and Vitamin B1; it is also a good source of dietary fiber. The following link will give you detailed nutrition information: Pineapple Nutrients
PROCESSING: Processing Pineapple is about cutting the skin off and the heart out. The following link is the best I have seen: Processing Pineapples
STORING: Pineapple can stay green at room temperature for many days and then suddenly ripen in 24 hours so you better watch your pineapples when storing it at room temperature.
PINEAPPLE FLAN: one of the most exquisite desserts in Latin America. Prepare caramel coating by cooking in a pan 1 cup of white sugar and 1/2 cup of water until golden, carefully pour into a mold and move it to coat bottom and sides, let caramel coating cool completely. Take 2 ripe pineapples, process them discarding the skin but keeping the heart, cut pineapples in chunks and liquefy in batches through a blender add a little water to facilitate, strain to get as much liquid as possible and discard fibers, you should get about 1 liter (4 cups) of filtered pineapple juice, add 1 cup of white sugar and cook in a pan to reduce volume by half, you should get about 2 1/2 cups of pineapple syrup, let cool completely and blend thoroughly with 8 eggs and 1 teaspoon of corn starch, pour this mixture into the caramelized mold; cook covered in Bain Marie in 400F oven or stove top, until flan sets (an inserted knife comes out clean), about 2 hours. Let cool completely before taking out of the mold. For visual effect you may use some thin slices of pineapple without the heart to place at bottom of your mold while caramel is still hot, when you take out your flan from the mold by inverting it on a platter the slices will show on top.
The best cattle raising region in the world is composed of southern Brazil, Uruguay and northern Argentina, there the conditions are so optimal that cattle can live on their own and prosper. In the history of that region one can read of the many European settlements that had to be suddenly abandoned because of indian attacks, often leaving behind some cattle, sometimes as little as 1 bull and 4 cows. When the settlements were recaptured some 20 years later, the settlers were astonished to see cattle by the thousands as far as the eye could see. There were so many that all the meat could not be consumed and cattle were often shot for the skin and the carcass left for wild animals.
Uruguayan beef is famous for being the best free ranging grass fed beef in the world, but it is somewhat difficult to get to eat it, you would have to be the president of the USA or someone traveling with him, Mr. George W. Bush was invited to a BBQ in a Uruguayan cattle ranch by the president of Uruguay, Mr. Bush said that it was the best beef he ever ate and coming from a Texan that means a lot; or you could be a rich Englishman since most Uruguayan beef is exported to England where the English lords gorge on it and develop gout, the butcher shop at Harrods sells beef from Uruguay but it is pricey; if you are in neither of the previous categories you are left with the option of visiting the Harbor's Market (Mercado del Puerto) in Uruguay's capital Montevideo, the market is a den of carnivorousness where a vegetarian will have a heart attack because of the blatant display of grilled meats, but the place is cheap to eat and is usually full.
In this blog I will not refer to every cut of beef since there are too many, but I will identify the most popular in the USA and Latin America, some popular cuts will not be referred to because they are obvious, such as the universally famous T-Bone steak known by that name in every country. The table below shows the name of some popular cuts in the USA and Latin America:
Below are some links to beef charts in various countries:
NUTRIENTS: beef is of course a great source of protein and iron, and if not properly consumed it may add a lot of cholesterol to your diet. For the nutrients in specific cuts go to this link and search for the name: Nutrients in Food
PROCESSING: There are many ways to cut beef below you will find some videos on the most popular cuts:
Cutting Sirloin and Tenderloin Steaks
Preparing Rump Cap Brazilian Style
STORING: Beef always benefits from a little aging, 1 week in the refrigerator or more if it is in the freezer, will make beef more tender. Some people are not aware that most refrigerator have a drawer designed for aging beef, usually the bottom one. You place in this aging drawer your beef in the same package it comes in and leave it for at week before preparing.
GUASACACA: This is a Venezuelan version of the Mexican Guacamole, one may say is a chunky guacamole. Coarsely chop 1 red onion, 1 green pepper, 1 red pepper, 2 plum tomatoes, 1 ripe avocado, 1 tablespoon each of finely chopped cilantro and garlic, 1/2 cup of vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar, salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste, mix well all ingredients except avocado, then add avocado and mix gently to avoid mashing it. Serve as a side for grilled beef.
The papaya (from Caribbean indian language via Spanish) is native to the jungles of the Mexico-Guatemala border, and was first cultivated in Mexico several centuries before the emergence of the Mesoamerican classic cultures. Maya indians used to cook meat wrapped in papaya leaves over charcoal, the leaves have a tenderizing effect on the meat due to the enzyme papain, which has the ability to break protein molecules. Throughout Latin America Papaya is sold in 3 stages of ripeness, green (verde), semi-ripe (pintona) and ripe (madura), each has different applications, green is used for its firmness and high content of papain, semi-ripe for its firmness and color, and ripe for its sweetness. Green papaya usually has a dark green skin, semi-ripe papaya's skin will go from pale green to pale yellow often in streaks and ripe papaya's skin will be all yellow.
A simple kitchen experiment to observe the papain enzyme at work is to liquefy the skin of a green or semi-ripe papaya in a little water and strain the liquid; place in this liquid a piece of the toughest cut of meat that you can find and a piece of cheese, after an hour the cheese will be practically dissolved and the meat will have the texture of liver. After a meal full of proteins, like a BBQ, there is nothing better for your digestion that eating a thick slice of semi-ripe papaya, your stomach will feel light within an hour. Throughout Latin America papaya is usually eaten fresh in thick slices or cubes sometimes sprayed with lime juice. Shakes (batidos) of papaya are also popular.
Medical research in animals has confirmed the contraceptive and abortion causing capability of green papaya consumed regularly in large amounts. Enslaved women in the West Indies were noted for consuming papaya to prevent pregnancies, thus preventing their children from being born into slavery. Papaya was the first fruit tree to have its genome deciphered.
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Carica papaya
ENGLISH NAME: Papaya
LOCAL NAMES: Papaya (spanish), Lechosa (Venezuela), Mamão (Brazil)
PRODUCTS: Papain powder as a tenderizer; canned papaya in syrup; papaya candy brittle, called Piñonate in Margarita island, Venezuela
NUTRIENTS: Papaya is very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Dietary Fiber and Potassium, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Folate. Papaya contains large quantities of lycopene, which has been shown to have an antiproliferative effect on in vitro liver cancer cells. For further nutrition information follow this link: Papaya nutrients
PROCESSING: For green or semi-ripe papayas you start by cutting away the skin, if the papaya is large you first cut it in half and set it on flat surface for cutting the skin away, then cut it in 4 wedges and scrape out the seeds with a spoon; you now cut in cubes or slices according to your needs; for ripe papayas the best method is to cut in half length wise, scrape the seeds out with a spoon and with a baller spoon cut balls out; an alternative is to cut 4 wedges with the skin on and the cut out the flesh with a curved knife by going around the edges. Ripe papayas are very delicate and should not be manipulated a lot because they will become mushy. The following is a link with a video on how to cut papayas, it is the best I have seen: Processing Papayas
STORING: Papayas will keep well in cool dry place but will go from green to ripe in 10 days no matter what you do. Papayas do not freeze well because they become mushy after thawing.
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Sechium edule
ENGLISH NAME: Mirliton (Cajun), Pear Squash, Cho Cho (Caribbean)
LOCAL NAMES: Chayote (Panama, Costa Rica), Chayota (Venezuela), Guatila (Colombia), Xuxú (Brazil), Cayota (Peru), Pataste (Honduras), Guisquil (Guatemala, Salvador), Tayota (Nicaragua, Dominican Republic), christophine (French)