There are people who eat to live and others who live to eat. If you fall into the latter category, then it’s likely you love to sniff out cuisine that captures the specific flavor of a place when you’re on the road.

Certainly, you’re not alone, as culinary travel is on the rise. A 2006 study from the Travel Industry Association reports that 27 million travelers – or 17 percent of American leisure travelers – participated in culinary or wine-related activities while traveling over the preceding three years. 

As the Food Network and Travel Channel have both taken increasing hold of the public’s consciousness in the five years since the study, there’s no doubt that this figure has only increased.

The good news is that Latin America is a veritable hotbed of culinary attractions for travelers. From the freshest of seafood dishes available along the coasts to the heartier fare of the more mountainous regions, countries from Argentina to Puerto Rico are actively providing a wealth of culinary adventures to visitors. But be forewarned: it can be a grab bag of foods and cooking styles which can present some surprising and unexpected combinations. 

After all, the cuisine of a particular country or city can’t help but be influenced by the people who have lived there through the centuries, given various in- and out-migrations as well as other nations and empires that have moved in at one time or another.

Though the history may have been rocky, today the people who travel on their stomachs are reveling in the choices available throughout Latin America.

For a list of the best cities in Latin America for foodies, click here.

Lisa Rogak is a freelance writer and New York Times Bestselling author. Her latest book is "And Nothing But The Truthiness: The Rise (and Further Rise) of Stephen Colbert."

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