REVIEW: ‘Street Food Latin America’

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Street Food Latin America

Renew that passport, bring plenty of napkins, and a camera, and get ready to escape into the world of Street Food Latin America. This documentary dives into the culinary world of some of the more iconic places across the Central and South Americas. Each one of the six episodes of Street Food Latin America focuses beautifully upon the niche foods from the respective country. Created by David Gelb, who is also know for Chef’s Table and Jiro Dreams of Sushi, this Netflix documentary should be watched with open minds, semi-full stomachs, and a full respect of the cultures that bring color into this world.

As you go through the series you will come across various chefs. I use the word chefs, but really those focused on in the series could even be called maestros of the culinary world. They have even pulled the attention of actual world class chefs, food critics, and hungry patrons alike. Yet, though they focus on the food, they also speak on their personal lives from the highs and the lows, and show how cooking has changed or even saved their lives. 

The stories that are told within Street Food Latin America, aren’t to be taken lightly. Some of these stories are powerful, beautiful, depressing, and hard to swallow, but the fact that each one of these chefs has managed to overcome their struggles is awesome. For example, in episode two of Street Food Latin America, they showed the struggles of a woman who grew up with a speech impediment, opening her own restaurant where she served world class moqueca, a Brazilian fish stew that used coconut milk and dende oil,  based off a recipe created by her very own mother.  Another woman in this same episode would go to the beach and sell her food. Each woman had a struggle that led to a hardship and food brought them back to fulfillment and happiness in life. 

Street Food Latin America

What makes Street Food Latin America such a good watch is that you get this feeling of homeliness and love that is displayed when the chefs speak of their food. The way that the stories are unfolded is great and I feel like it was really understood how these women (because the episodes focus primarily on women, with some men splash about for balance) had to overcome challenges to be able to deliver what they do. Seeing that they managed to do just that is powerful and inspiring. Honestly, in this era of quarantine, makes one wonder if they’re fairing well during these hard times.

Aside from the great stories, we have to talk about the food. The food looked like amazing in this series. Foods  ranged from a cheesy, potato, and ham omelette called “Tortilla de Papas” to mouth wateringly sweet bunuelos. The best part about learning about these foods is the presentation used to highlight said dishes.  The chefs would talk about about their food with such high regard and love, it brought a smile to my face just watching them talk about it. Also the art used to show the food off was cool too. 

I have to say that I didn’t come across many issues with the pacing of the series. Each episode felt like I was walking into a brand new world and each person they highlighted was like an entity that would whisk you away to their own little private niche and there you would be blessed with their food. My favorite episode from Street Food Latin America would have to be the second episode because I love seeing the main focal chef sharing her hard life and then overcoming them. It allows me to relate to her especially as someone who themselves has a disability, seeing someone make such an amazing change in life and see it prosper made me tear up a bit.

Overall, Street Food Latin America is a very enjoyable experience that I hope Netflix decides to have more of. Being that the episodes are more along the 30ish minute mark, it gives the viewer just enough to whet the appetite without them feeling like there being too much to take in. I like the normal form of the episodes because it’s like a brief visit and then you’re back home. This works very well with myself being that I consider myself a foodie. Watching shows that highlight food makes me feel good, as well as hungry too. I would highly suggest this series to anyone who loves food, loves seeing women in the spotlight, or just wants to a temporary escape from the basic everyday life of quarantine.

Street Food Latin America is available now on Netflix.

Street Food Latin America
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

Street Food Latin America is a very enjoyable experience that I hope Netflix decides to have more of. Being that the episodes are more along the 30ish minute mark, it gives the viewer just enough to whet the appetite without them feeling like there being too much to take in. I like the normal form of the episodes because it’s like a brief visit and then you’re back home. This works very well with myself being that I consider myself a foodie.