Pineapple is the common name for an edible tropical plant and also its fruit (although technically multiple fruit merged together, and perceived as one). Pineapple is eaten fresh or canned and is available as a juice or in juice combinations. It is used in desserts, salads, as a complement to meat dishes and in fruit cocktail. While sweet, it is known for its high acid content (perhaps malic and/or citric). Pineapples are the only bromeliad fruit in widespread cultivation. It is one of the most commercially important plants. Pineapple are native to the Paraguay-Brazil border area. The name is derived from the pine cone look of the fruit.

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.

Pineapples like to grow in loose reddish soil. They are easy to grow by planting the top crown or secondary crowns that sprout at the base. Hummingbirds are the main pollinator of pineapples, so planting pineapples is good for hummingbirds.

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.


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 RICE DRINK: This is the very popular in Panama CHICHA DE ARROZ CON PIÑA, every Panamanian mother makes it at home with leftovers from pineapple and a little rice. Take 1 cup of rice, 6 cups of water, the skin and heart of a pineapple and boil everything until the rice is very soft, about 40 minutes. Let the mixture cool completely and process in batches through a blender to liquefy, strain each batch and get as much liquid as possible into a bowl, discard the dry solids. Once all the mixture has been blended and strained, add 1 can of sweetened condensed milk to the liquid and mix well, add a few drops of vanilla extract, taste sweetness and add extra sugar if necessary. Serve chilled with ice cubes, kids love this drink and is good for them.

HAWAIIAN MEATBALLS: process 1 small pineapple, discarding skin and heart, cut pineapple into chunks. Take 1/2 cup of pineapple chunks and liquefy with 1 tablespoon of brown sugar (raspadura, panela) to obtain a thick juice, in a bowl mix juice with 1 red pepper finely chopped, 1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger, 0.5 Kg (1 Lb) of ground pork, 1/2 cup of finely chopped green onions, 1/2 cup of bread crumbs, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, knead well, wet yours hands and make bite size meatballs. Place meatballs in a baking pan, spray generously with Teriyaki sauce and bake 30 minutes at 400F. To serve pierce one meatball and a pineapple chunk with a toothpick.

PINEAPPLE CHICKEN WINGS: Process 1 pineapple into chunks, discarding skin and heart. In a bowl spray pineapple chunks with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar (raspadura, panela), mix with 1 cup of BBQ sauce and add 1.25 Kg (2.5 Lb) of split chicken wings tips removed, if you want extra heat add some hot sauce, toss well to coat and bake at 400F for 30 minutes. Serve warm.

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.



Of the top 15 beef producing countries in the world 5 are in Latin America, Brazil (2) Argentina (5), Mexico (7), Colombia (9), Uruguay (13) amounting to 41% of the total. In the consumption per capita category in the top 15 consuming countries there are 4 from Latin America, Argentina (1), Uruguay (2), Brazil (6), Mexico (15) amounting to 37% of all consumption. Argentineans on average ate 70 Kg (144 Lb) of beef in 2009, that's a lot of beef.

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.

CHIMICHURRI: The universal sauce for grilled beef in Latin America, very easy to make: 1 packed cup of finely chopped parsley, 2 clove of finely chopped garlic, 2 tablespoons of white vinegar, salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste, 1 cup of vegetable oil, mix well and serve with beef for dipping. Parsley can be replaced by other fresh herbs or mixture of fresh herbs, such as cilantro, basil, mint or oregano.
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.
RUMP CAP: it is a very popular cut in Latin America, particularly in Brazil where it is called Picanha and it is served in all Churrascarias, above you can see a video on preparing Brazilian style Picanha on a spear. Rump Cap is found at the top of beef Round, it has a thick layer of white fat on one side, which is essential to its grilling for juiciness and flavor. To grill a whole Rump Cap you first age for it about a week in your refrigerator. When you are ready to grill cut some gashes across the fat side and rub with salt and pepper. Grill over red hot charcoals fat side first for 10-15 minutes until fat is golden, then turn over and grill for another 20-25 minutes, it should be medium rare inside, cut 1/2 inch slices against the fiber and grill additionally for medium, or well done, serve with yucca, chimichurri or guasacaca.

SIRLOIN STEAK: Very popular in Steak Houses in Latin America, goes under different names: Churrasco, Bife. For the best steak age your whole piece of sirloin for about a week, then cut it againts the fiber in 1 inch thick steaks with a layer of fat on one side, fat although it should not be eaten after grilling is essential for tasty and juicy steaks. Season the raw steaks with salt and pepper and grill over hot iron to make sure the steak is marked by the irons, that will give it the real steak house look, grill 4 minutes on each side for medium rare, more time for medium or well done. Serve with yucca and chimichurri or guasacaca.

PULLED BEEF: This preparation is widely used in many Latin American dishes (carne mechada, ropa vieja), sometimes as a main dish, sometimes as an ingredient. Is the most economical way to eat beef. People usually prepare it in big lots to freeze in packages of 0.5 Kg (1 Lb), the shredded beef is seasoned before serving. Take 1 Kg (2 Lb) of beef skirt or flank (falda) and cook it in boiling water until it is so tender you can shred the fibers with your fingers, in a regular pot this may take 3 hours in a pressure cooker it would take 45 minutes. Once the skirt is tender enough for shredding let it cool and proceed to shred it completely if necessary you may whack it with a kitchen hammer or a good round stone (my favorite) to loosen the fibers. To season make a sofrito (fried mixture of seasonings) by finely chopping 1 small onion, 1 red pepper, 1 clove or garlic, and fry them in 1/4 cup of vegetable oil over medium heat for no more than 8 minutes until the aromas are released. Add the shredded beef, 1 teaspoon of oregano, 2 tablespoons of ketchup, salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste, stir well and let simmer for 5 minutes, you may substitute the salt and pepper by adobo (spiced salt) for extra flavor. Serve with rice and plantains.



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.

Papayas trees are very easy to grow from seeds, let the seeds dry over a piece of paper then plant them in a pot with good soil, they will all sprout and once they are about 12 cm (5 in) pick the ones that look stronger for planting in good soil, they will produce papayas in 6-9 months and keep producing for at least 2 years. Papaya seeds can be washed and let to dry thoroughly to be used as a substitute of black pepper, after grinding they have a spicy flavor. There are many commercial species of papaya with different shapes (round to elongated) and sizes (fist size to water melon size) but in general they can be classified by the color of the flesh, pink or yellow, the latter being considered the tastiest and sweetest.

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


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.

PAPAYA SMOOTHIE: Very nutritious and refreshing drink, blend 3 cups of ripe papaya, 1 cup of plain yogurt, 1 cup of ice cubes, 1 table spoon each chopped ginger and honey, the juice of 1 lime; blend well and serve with a sprig of mint for decorating.

PAPAYA AND AVOCADO SALAD: 3 cups of sliced semi-ripe papaya, 1 small avocado cut in slices, the seeded wedges of 1 orange or mandarin, 1 small red onion thinly sliced, serve over a bed of romain lettuce or fresh spinach leaves (my favorite), spray with any sweet dressing such as Honey-Mustard, Russian or Thousand Islands.

PAPAYA SHRIMP APPETIZER: cook 0.5 Kg (1 Lb) of shelled deveined shrimp in boiling salt water for no more than 5 minutes, strain and chill; cut enough 1 inch cubes of semi-ripe papaya for all the shrimp; with toothpicks pierce 1 cube of papaya and 1 shrimp; prepare a dipping sauce with 1 cup of mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons of ketchup, 1 tablespoon of sugar, the juice of 1 lime and a few drops of hot sauce, mix well. You eat after dipping the shrimp in the sauce. The combination of sauce, shrimp and papaya is delicious.

PAPAYA IN SYRUP: Very typical dessert around Christmas time throughout Latin America. You will need 1 Kg (2 Lb) of sugar for every Kg of green papaya. The sugar can either be white or dark (my favorite), with white sugar the papaya will develop a golden color that is prettier although with dark sugar (panela, raspadura) it will be tastier. Fort this recipe it is better to use large green papayas. You first cut away the skin ,then cut it in quarters, scrape out the seeds, and cut slices about 1 cm (1/2 inch) thick. Place the slices on a baking pan and let rest overnight, the slices will sweat out some excess liquid, if you place them out in the sun the sweating will intensify. Next day wash the slices and place them in comfortable pot with the sugar, no need to add water since the fruit will sweat lots of liquid. For extra flavor add 1 cinnamon stick broken in pieces. Cook over low heat until you have a thick syrup and the papaya slices look shiny. Let cool thoroughly before serving. Papaya in syrup is usually accompanied by some bland flavor, such as a low sugar custard, a little farmers cheese, cottage cheese or cream cheese with saltine crackers. I think it may also go well with a ball of frozen yogurt (my favorite) or vanilla ice cream.



The word for chayote is Spanish, borrowed from the Nahuatl word chayotli, which means Spiny Gourd. Chayote was one of the many foods introduced to Europe by early explorers, who brought back a wide assortment of botanical samples. The age of conquest also spread the plant south from Mexico, ultimately causing it to be integrated into the cuisine of many other Latin American nations. The flesh has a fairly bland taste, and a texture described as a cross between a potato and a cucumber. Although generally discarded, the seed has a nutty flavour and may be eaten as part of the fruit. The bland flavor of Chayote works to its advantage because it can absorb any flavor, in Australia during World War II there was an scarcity of fresh apples, so people cooked Chayote chunks in imported apple juice and sugar to produce an excellent filling for pies. Chayote vines are easy to grow, first you let one of the fruits sprout a root then plant it in good soil next to something the vine can crawl into, like a fence or a tree or build a rack with scrap material. The vine will bear many fruits for years, the leaves and shoots are also edible, in Taiwan the shoots are considered a delicacy. After 2 years it is possible to collect chunks of roots without affecting the plant, the roots are edible and taste similar to yams. In the link below you can practice your spanish and learn all about the Chayote, this site is for Chayote fanatics: Los Chayotes

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)

NUTRIENTS: The Chayote is a good source of Niacin, Vitamin B6, Pantothenic Acid, Magnesium and Potassium, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate, Zinc, Copper and Manganese. For a more detailed analysis of nutrients follow the link Chayote Nutrients

PROCESSING: Chayotes can be eaten with the peel if it is the variety with no hairs, otherwise remove the the peel. The fruit is usually sliced through the middle of its lips to remove the seed, although this seed is edible. Depending on the recipe the fruit woul be cut in thin slices, chunks or strips. Chayotes have a lot moisture, if you need to remove it, spray the pieces with salt and let them rest an hour then squeeze them with you hands.

STORING: Chayotes keep well in a cool dry place, if they are kept long, they will sprout  but will be edible. If you grow your own it is better to keep them in the vine until ready to use.

CHAYOTE SALAD: peel 2 chayotes and cube them, boil in salt water for no more than 10 minutes until slightly tender, place in cold water to avoid further cooking; deseed and finely chop a jalapeño or other hot pepper; deseed and coarsely chop a red pepper; cut about 100 gr. (1/4 lb) of mozzarella cheese in 1/4- by 1-inch sticks; peel, deseed a firm avocado and cut in cubes; combine all in a bowl and add 1/2 cup of thinly sliced green onions; in a cup prepare a dressing with 4 tablespoons of olive or vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons of white vinegar and 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro; add dressing to salad mix, salt a and pepper to taste and toss well.

CHAYOTE AND PALM HEARTS SALAD: peel 2 chayotes and cube them, boil in salt water for no more than 10 minutes until slightly tender, place in cold water to avoid further cooking; in a bowl place 1 small red onion and one small red pepper both cut in julienned strips; add the kernels of 1 small corn ear or 1/2 cup canned corn kernels; add 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro; add a deseeded and finely chopped jalapeño or other hot pepper; add 1 can (14 oz) of hearts of palm cut in big chunks and the cubes of chayote; in a cup prepare a dressing with the juice of 1 large lime, 1 orange, 2 tablespoons of ketchup, 1/4 teaspoon of hot sauce, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, dash of sugar and mix well; spray dressing over vegetables and toss well, add salt and pepper to taste; refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving; serve over a leaf of lettuce and cover with some sliced pitted black olives.

CHAYOTE MATCHSTICKS WITH LIME AND ADOBO: this is one recipe vegetarians will love, is simple and delicious; if the chayote is of the hairy variety peel it, otherwise leave the peel on; cut the chayote in matchstick size strips; spray them with salt and toss for a good coat; let rest some 30 minutes over a strainer to sweat, then squeeze to eliminate excess moisture; place chayote strips in a bowl and spray generously with lime juice and chill for an hour or so; to serve spray with a mixture of equal parts of spiced salt (adobo) and chili powder. This stuff is addictive, you will not stop eating it.

CHAYOTE SAUTEED WITH SHRIMP: another simple and delicious recipe; peel and devein 16 shrimps, refrigerate them in cold water with salt for at least 30 minutes before using; cut 2 chayotes in julienned strips; in hot pan or wok, drizzle 2 table spoons of oil, stir fry the chayote and shrimp quickly, no more than 2 minutes; turn off heat and add 1 tablespoon of oysters sauce or to taste; add salt and pepper to taste; instead of black pepper you may use some hot pepper flakes or sauce if you like some heat. If you have chayote vines, you may use the tender shoots for this dish.