Planning diet for Central American

The food of Central America is astounding in both its variety and flavor. Some of the world's favorite foodstuffs — corn, beans, peppers — orginated in this part of the world.

Central American cuisine has been very much influenced by the flavor profiles and ingredients of other regions including Spain, Asia, India and the Caribbean. The fusion of international flavors is subtle, and their presence is much more noticeable in larger cities. Despite many gastronomical differences among the countries of Central America, they all have certain indigenous ingredients in common such as corn or maize, peppers, beans and seafood in the coastal regions.

Their breakfasts are usually very abundant, often including a dish with beans and rice, sometimes adding some pork in them. And usually it is not only healthy food but also has good taste, variety and flavor. Rice and beans is popular at lunch time as are regional specialties such as panades (fried corn shells filled with fish or beans), meat pies, or escabeche, an onion soup.

Despite the wide variety of dishes available in Central American cuisine, one thing remains constant: food is meant to be enjoyed with family and friends, and in many countries the meal is so important that even talking is considered impolite. 

Common food choices associated within cultural group.

Grain group: corn (tamales, tortillas), rice and wheat products.

Vegetable group: asparagus, beets, cabbage, calabaza, chayote, chili peppers, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, hearts of palm, leeks, loroco flowers, onions, pacaya buds, plantains, pumpkin, spinach, sweet peppers, tomatillos, watercress, yams, yucca and yucca flower.

Fruit group: apples, avocados, bananas, breadfruit, cherimoya, coconut, grapes, guava, mameys, mangoes, nances, oranges, papaya, passion fruit, pejibaye, pineapple, prunes, raisins, tamarind, tangerines and zapote.

Milk, yogurt and cheese group: cheese, cream and milk.

Meat, fish, eggs and nuts group: beef, iguana, lizards, pork and venison; chicken, duck, turkey; a variety of fish, shellfish and legumes.

Fats and sweets group: butter, lard, vegetable oils, shortening; honey, sugar and sugar syrup.

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