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Know Your Meat: Spanish Names

Not for vegetarians Mmmm. There's nothing like succulent meat, especially if it's on fresh tortillas. But if you want it, you gotta know the names of what you want.

In this article, we cover the different types of la carne that might show up in a restaurant (including some you aren't likely to see in Latin America).

Warning: Do not read on an empty stomach!

  • Beef. You are most likely to see beef written as la res, or, if it's a steak, el bistec, or maybe even el filete. Less common is la carne de vaca, but who knows (vaca is cow).

  • Pork. While puerco is pig, there is a different name for the meat, just like in English. Pork is el cerdo. My two favorite types are carnitas, the moist little bits of pork shoulder, and al pastor, which is marinated and sliced pork slow-cooked on a spit, often with a hunk of pineapple on top. Talk about delicious!

  • Chicken. You probably know this one. El pollo! But do you know whether you prefer carne oscura or carne blanca? Dark meat is either el muslo (el contramuslo in Spain) for the thigh, la pierna (el muslo in Spain) for the leg, or la ala for the wing. Light meat is la pechuga for the breast. Or try ordering some alitas de pollo! (chicken wings)

  • Goat. For food, goat is el cabrito. Usually when I see this, its a particular dish called birria, which is a goat stew. Try it on your burrito or taco next time!

  • Lamb. Not as common, at least in Latin America, lamb is el cordero.

  • Seafood. While not a specific type of meat, you will see this as a section on the menu under los mariscos.

  • Fish. On menus you won't see el pez, which is the word for fish, but rather el pescado. In English we use the same word, but in Spanish, they are different (just like pig and pork).

  • Shrimp. A favorite for ceviche, shrimp is el camarĂ³n.

  • Duck. Another one you may not see too often (although if you're lucky you'll find a restaraunt that serves it in a mole), duck meat is the same word as the animal, el pato (as in the children's game pato, pato, ganso!).

Ok, I wasn't hungry before, but now I am.

With these words in your arsenal, you should never go hungry in a Spanish-speaking country!