Fiambre

Guatemalan Fiambre (photo by Rudy Girón)

Guatemalan Fiambre (photo by Rudy Girón)

written by Arturo Echeverría

Nobody knows the origins of fiambre; one of the most special of all Guatemalan foods, however, legends say that it was accidentally invented by either:

  1. A newly hired chef starting immediately by preparing a big banquet, only he couldn’t really cook; or
  2. A family visiting the cemetery on November 1st and while the adults concentrated on prayer, their kids had fun by flinging the picnic food at each other — and the remnants were later salvaged by the annoyed adults.

Regardless of its origin, fiambre, in my opinion, is the supreme Guatemalan plate. If this is not the food of the gods, it must be something very close. Fiambre is only eaten on November 1st, the Day of All Saints, and it is so complex that it can easily take as many as 50 or more ingredients.

Fiambre is basically a big salad or a plate of assorted cold cuts, including diverse vegetables, meats, pickles and much more. It must be prepared at least one day before serving and marinated overnight in a thin sauce blend of vinegar, parsley, lettuce and hard-boiled eggs called a caldillo. Without this vital step, the dish will be flavorless. Also, the more meats that are added, the richer the taste.

Accompany this legendary dish with an ice cold Guatemalan beer or one of the country’s award-winning rums.

One comment

  • tamallover

    Actually I couldn’t disagree more. If this plate has anything to do with the gods, then I’d say it was a cruel joke that they were playing on us. First of all, why would anyone want to eat a cold meat salad when the weather is getting cold? If this dish were traditional in May or any of the other many hot months in Guatemala, that might make it okay. Furthermore, I think the less sliced baloney, the better, in any dish except for a baloney sandwich. I would be embarrassed to share this dish with any of my foreign friends…. better just offer them a delicious tamal colorado at Christmas time and leave them with a good impression of Guatemalan cuisine.

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