The popular Guatemala dish we all enjoy every year on November 1st, which is ‘All Saints Day’ (El Día de Todos Los Santos), a day before the ‘Dia de Los Muertos’. Some say that this dish is an offering for a particular date of the year. But the history tell us the real origin of this popular Guatemalan dish.
A custom that began a few centuries ago, when families and friends share in a private celebration on November 1st the All Saints Day (Día de Todos Los Santos), Fiambre is a offering to all Saints on that day. Several countries in Latin America celebrate the All Saints’ Day, but Fiambre is unique to Guatemala.
On November 2nd (Día de Los Muertos), Guatemalan families visit cemeteries and gravesites to remember their loved departed ones bringing flowers, fruits and incense, a strong Guatemalan tradition.
Two traditions celebrated together in Guatemala, and yet both traditional cultural events are different. Fiambre is only celebrated only on November 1st, and historically corresponds only to this date, All Saints' Day.
No Fiambre recipe is the same, each family has a different recipe passed from generation from generation, and represents a blend or mixture not only of typical Guatemalan ingredients, but also of cultures, for it combines ingredients and techniques of the pre-Hispanic cuisine of Guatemala such as fresh vegetables with meats and sausages that are the influence of Spanish cuisine. Some recipes also conserve ingredients such as capers, olives and some dressings that are Arabic influences brought by the Spanish.
Fiambre must be accompanied by a traditional Guatemalan dessert, which is Dulce de Ayote and Jocotes en Miel.
Tell the Story
There are a few theories about the origin of Fiambre, but there are some written data that suggest that it emerged around 1770. Tell the story that after a series of natural disasters in Guatemala causing food shortages, a Spanish commission visited Guatemala staying at the home of a important Spanish family . The chef (or the cook), not having any dish to offer due to the shortages, decided to make a cold mixture of available ingredients that were left over in the kitchen. A dish that the guests really liked.
This anecdote and recipe spread throughout the city and families began to adopt this recipe to become a traditional Guatemalan dish.
Fiambre is basically a cold salad, it has an average of 40 ingredients, including vegetables, meats, pork, chicken, even shrimp and cheese of different kinds. Technically the recipe is simple, but its preparation takes time and should be done at least a couple of days before serving as it has to be marinated in a sauce of vinegar and mustard. It brings the family member together to contribute and help in the kitchen for this dish. Due to the mixture of so many ingredients, the final dish is very abundant. The family will continue eating this dish for several days.
El Fiambre is a very natural and nutritious recipe.
There are two kinds of Fiambre and the only difference is basically one ingredient; the Fiambre Rojo (Red one) is made with beets in it, Fiambre Blanco is made without beets. Just like mentioned before, each family has a different recipe, some add more or less ingredients. We will include a good average number of ingredients for you to make your own.
- 3 cups chopped green beans
- 2 cups chopped güisquil
- 1 small cauliflower
- 1 cup of peas
- 1 medium ichintal
- 1 chamborote chili to decorate or pepper.
- 1 lettuce to garnish
- 4 cups dry cheese
- 1 can of red pepper
- 2 ears corn husked or canned
- 2 pacayas
- 3 cups chopped carrot
- 1 pound of small potato
- 2 cups of beans
- 1 medium can of asparagus
- 4 ounces of craf cheese
- 3 hard boiled eggs
- 2 cans of brussels
- 4 ounces of olives
- 2 ounces of capers
- 3 black chorizos
- 3 smoked sausages
- 6 sausages
- 2 pounds of cold meats
- 1 medium sausage
- 3 Extremadura chorizos
- 6 sausages
- 4 ounces of ham
- 6 red chorizos
- 1 pound of sausages
1 pound of dried meat (roast beef)
1/2 pound of beef tenderloin, salted in pieces
2 legs of pig
1 medium chicken in pieces
1/2 pound loin of marrano salitrada in pieces
1 small tin of sardine in oil
4 ounces fresh harvested shrimp
1 small can of anchovies in strips
1 tin of pickled sardine
Process and Preparation
You should start with this process 3 days in advance. Cook cauliflower, beets and brussels separately, drain and let cool. Remember to boil the beets until just cooked, but still firm. Cut the onions into medium segments. Two days before serving, boil the chicken and meats with parsley adding salt and pepper to your taste . Cut the cooked chicken and meats into small pieces and store it. Keep the broth to later use it.
Mix all the ingredients, one day before, in a plastic or glass container, and set aside the beet. Mix the broth with vinegar, olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper, add spices to taste. Simmer for a few minutes and then chill overnight.
Grind the sausages, and then let them cool a little, cut into slices and remove the fat and let cool.
In a large bowl, the meats are already cold and chopped. Leave some meat to decorate separately, do the same with some sausages. The sardines do not mix with the Fiambre, they are used at the end only as an ornament.
One day before serving, mix the meats, sausages and vegetables in a large enough glass or container. Allow all ingredients to tan during the night in the refrigerator. Mixing several times is recommended.
The next day (November 1st) Fiambre is served, decorating the plate of each diner with lettuce, meats and cheese. Finally, place egg and parsley as the final touch to the dish.