After trying lots of Mexican food while cycling through the Yucatán peninsula I got a little bit tired of rice and beans. Therefore I crossed the border into Guatemala with the highest expectations in regards to Guatemalan food! The food I got to try in Guatemala was in many ways a lot different than the Mexican food but in others it was not. The different menues were still dominated by a well-known staple….
Traditional Guatemalan food along the road
Chicken & Rice
My first meal after the bordercrossing was nevertheless a positive surprise. As you can see on the photo it didn’t only consist of chicken and rice. It also provided some extra vitamins in the form of a little salad. Something a cyclist doesn’t get very often right next to the road.
A typical breakfast (“Desayuno” in Spanish)
This typical breakfast plate shows three foods you will often see and taste in Guatemala:
- A soft Taco: Guatemalan Tacos are a little bit thicker than the Mexican ones and taste different. If you ask me, they taste better than the Mexican ones; if you ask Brad, they taste worse…
- Plaintains: Plaintains are cooked or baked bananas. It is a special kind of bananas, much sweeter and it seems a little bit more gluey than the normal ones.
- Last but not least: Beans. Yes, that black little sausage you can see are refried beans. You will find them in Guatemala in all variations!
How are Tacos made?
Tacos are made of corn flour. In small villages you can sometimes see the ladies go to the store with a bowl full of corn. The reason? Usually the store has a machine to turn the corn into a dough.
The rest of the process are a few girls clapping the dough into Taco-shape and then they get fried on a big pan – often right next to the road.
The photo above has a very memorable story to it. I’ve taken it in a local restaurant in Antigua. We had just ordered the menu of the day and from my place I could see two tourists taking photos of the two taco-women in a very unrespectful way. They basically just put their camera into the faces of the women and pressed the button. I decided to be different and asked the ladies if I could take a photo. They said “Only from the tacos” and that’s what I did.
Very often I regret that I haven’t got more photos of the local people and I would love to take more photos. But I also don’t want to be “touristy” or even worse disrespectful.
Chicken & Rice & Beans
Sounds and looks familiar? I bet it does. I cannot count how many times I had to eat chicken and beans and rice in a row. When we arrived at Antigua I had a real aversion. Especially against beans.
Whenever I get the chance and hte restaurant looks halfway trustworthy (yes, I had traveler’s diarrhea for a while) I order a fresh salad. The salad above is from one of the best restaurants we have visited in Guatemala. It is in El Ramate in the Amura Hotel. A place that is well worth staying, not only because of the food.
Supermarkets & supplies along the road
Small town supermarkets are often very limited in their supplies. You can choose from a huge variety of unhealty snacks and an impressive selection of coca cola bottles in various sizes. Fruit and vegetables are a rare exception. As cyclists we burn lots of calories and a 2-liter-bottle of coke together with some chips does not much harm. But I often wonder about the Guatemalan people especially the kids – they grow up with way too much sugar!
On the photo above you can see Brad shopping in the middle of a hen with her chicks. Cycling through rural Guatemala you will see lots of animals running around and I really like that the animals are a part of daily life!
And what about the drinks…?
Gallo is a very famous beer brand in Guatemala. I’ve tried it myself (multiple times) and I have to admit that it is not too bad. Especially when it’s served as a Michelada which is some kind of tomato juice, lemon, chilly and the beer.
I often drink the same: lemonade with soda. It’s nice and refreshing. Exactly what you will need on a hot day!
May I introduce to you: Pollo Campero
Pollo Campero is Guatemala’s answer to McDonalds & co. And so one day, when we went to Guatemala City to watch a movie, I was brave enough to try Guatemalan fast food. Brad and I entered the restaurant and were greeted right at the door. Immediately a waiter brought us to a two person table and handed us the menu. It’s basically chicken and fries in all kinds of variations. I opted for some kind of chicken burger with fries and only a few seconds after we ordered the plates stood in front of us.
If I had to choose between McD and Pollo Campero I would always go back to Pollo Campero. But I am generally not a big fan of fast food and given the fact that you can get a nice meal at a family-owned restaurant for half-price I think it was too expensive for Guatemala.
And for dessert…?
Thankfully we are cycling and can afford to eat that nice chocolate waffle with chocolate icecream and fresh strawberries. We found that tasty jewel at the choco Museo in Antigua. Definitely worth a visit!
Have you also been to Guatemala? What was your favourite food? Or did you prefer Mexican food? Just drop a line in the comment section!
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