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What are panchos, completos, and cachorros-quentes?

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America may be the home of the hotdog, but the fine people of Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay have elevated it to an altogether higher plain. For starters, these four South American nations have taken the basic components – hot dog and bun – and improved upon them. Longer sausages; crisper, chewier buns.

More is more

But the real secret of a South American hotdog lies in the multitude of toppings. A good vendor could have as many as forty different sauces, condiments and toppings to choose from, and gravity and Newton’s Third Law are the only limitations as to how many you can pile onto your dog. This is one of those cases where more is most definitely more!

What's the collective noun for chachorros-quentes?

Local flavors

In Argentina and Uruguay the pancho (or ‘superpancho’ if you go for gold) is often served with salsa golf, chimichurri and what is known as ‘lluvia de papas’ (literally a ‘shower of potatoes’ aka shoestring French fries) while in Chile the 'completo' (sauerkraut, mashed avocado, chopped tomatoes, and an insane amount of mayo) and ‘Italiano’ (‘completo’ minus the ’kraut) variations both have fierce advocates.

But if you ask me Brazil outdoes them all. The cachorro-quente (literally ‘hot dog’) is a behemoth like you’ve never seen before. It’s a late-night snack (or should I say meal) eaten by revelers on their way home and is best washed down by a beer or – better still – a shot of cachaça.

As in Chile, the ‘completo’ is a popular combo, although the ingredients are completely different. A typical Brazilian ‘completo’ comprises seasoned ground beef, pico de gallo, canned corn and peas, grated Parmesan cheese, shredded carrots, diced ham or bacon, fresh cilantro, shoestring potato sticks and hardboiled quail eggs.

While you try to get your mouth around that I’ll leave you with this gritty Youtube video of a Brazilian ‘completo’ in the making. Enjoy!

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