Guatemalan Cuisine: Rabo Guisado

Guatemalan Cuisine: Rabo Guisado

Okay, get your Guatemalan notebook handy, we’re about to learn a few Guatemalan words and concepts.

Rabo Guisado translate roughly as ox tail stew: rabo would be the ox tail and guisado would be stew.

The first time I learned about how all these dishes based on entrails, guts, and left-overs of animals came to be was in relation to the Mexican dish Mole de caderas (Hips stew or soup) which nowadays is considered a delicacy. Meals like today’s which uses the ox tail were created by the aboriginal people of the Americas from the entrails and left-overs of animals since the best cuts and meat were only allowed for the Spaniards and Criollos (Creole, of Spanish extraction). That’s right, all the good parts and the best meat were only for the Criollos and Spaniards and the throw-away left-overs were given to the indigenous people, whom created the amazing and flavor-rich cuisine we now boast as our national dishes. The Native American people took the entrails, the guts, the bowls, the tongues, the bones and spines and mix them with the produce of their milpa. Below you will find a pretty good description of milpa taken from the book 1491 by Charles C. Mann.

Maize is grown in what is called a milpa. The term means “maize field,” but refers to something considerably more complex. A milpa a field, usually but not always recently cleared, in which farmers plant a dozen crops at once, including maize, avocados, multiples varieties of squash and bean, melon, tomatoes, chilies, sweet potato, jicama (a tuber), amaranth (a grain-like plant) and mucuma (a tropical legume)… Milpa crops are nutritionally and environmentally complementary… Milpa is one of the most successful human inventions ever created. [ed. Just a fragment on the chapter about maize).

Source: 1491: New Revelation of the Americas Before Columbus

If you ever decide to take a culinary trip through Food & Drinks category of La Antigua Guatemala Daily Photo (90 entries thus far), you will discover that the common thread among the majority of the dishes and drinks is the produce of the milpa described above. Many Guatemalan dishes are stews, soups and caldos (stocks). You will also come across the fact that most of these meals are served in very similar manner that’s because most of these photos have been taken from the daily menu; but, that’s a dish for another day.

© 2008 – 2013, Rudy Girón. All rights reserved.

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  • Yummmm! I once had Rabo del Toro in Spain. It certainly had an interesting taste to it, but good nonetheless. Reading through this post, though, makes me realize that I have a lot of experimenting to do in order to understand the kinds of delicacies out there. I really haven’t tried that much international cuisine that varies from the food I eat here in the states. When traveling, I always try something different at restaurants that offer only authentic/local/traditional cuisine/dishes…I want to walk away having experienced the gastronomy of the city/culture that I visited.

  • raidar

    Evil! This dish is making me so hungry!

  • Lucky

    This is the favorite dish of my husband. I showed this pic to him and now he is asking me to prepare it.

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