It’s the moment you’ve all be waiting for…
A post completely, 100% dedicated to:
Food lovers, rejoice!
Since Argentina has Italian, Spanish, French and native influences, the cuisine reflects that. You’ll see more of that very soon.
Okay, let’s start with Argentina’s trademark food staple —beef.
The beef here is known around the world to be the best, and up until a couple years ago, Argentina was the biggest beef consumer in the world. I can see why! Their cows are mainly pasture-raised, eating grass as nature intended (not grains and soy like they do in the U.S!). They are also allowed to roam throughout the pastures (las pampas) and graze.
Happy cows come from Cal Argentina. They aren’t pumped with hormones or antibiotics because they are simply healthier to begin with and why mess with a good thing?
Unfortunately, our lovely little friend Monsanto is making their way over to Argentina and changing the beef industry to be more like the U.S. Factory farming is growing, much to mine and many others’ distaste. I’m really hoping they kick Monsanto out before their industry is ruined for good.
A wonderful photo essay on this topic can be found here:
There are a number of parrillas, which are restaurants that serve grilled beef, asado, fresh from the parrilla to your plate. I am so excited to try it! More than likely, my first night there I will be going out to one of these places in celebration. And thanks to the fact that I won’t have much jet lag (I’ll only be an hour ahead!), I shouldn’t be too tired either.
Also common is a dish called milanesa, which is a food originated in Milan, Italy (hence the name). In a nutshell, it’s breaded and fried meat, like the chicken milanesa below.
You’ll also find an interesting dish called provoleta, which I personally tried at a barbeque with one of my Argentinian friends in Spain! This is a grilled piece of provolone cheese with your choice of seasonings or sauces. It’s SO good!
Cheese lovers, rejoice.
One thing I really want to try is the matambre arrollado, which is a stuffed flank steak. Um, yes please.
If you’re looking for street food, you must try the choripán, which is a sandwich that looks a lot like a sub, filled with chorizo, chimichurri, peppers, onions, and a number of other options.
If you’re in the mood for a hearty soup, carbonada is the way to go. It’s filled with meat, potatoes and veggies with a beef broth–perfect comfort food!
Another popular food in Argentina is empanadas, which literally means “breaded” in English. I’m sure you know what empanadas are, delicious fried dough goodness with either meat, cheese or beans inside (or if you’re lucky, a combination of any of those three!).
Look, they even have the mate in the background!!
Because of the Italian influence, you’ll also find pasta and pizza at many establishments. Argentine pizza is made a little differently, blending Spanish and Italian cultures to create their own unique dish. Sometimes, you’ll find the pizza covered with a piece of chickpea flour dough (cooked) called, fainá.
And of course, this is typically served with a refreshing glass of Malbec wine!
Speaking of wine, Argentina boasts some of the world’s best wines, produced in the Mendoza region. This area makes up about 2/3 of the country’s wine supply! Lucky for me, I will be living very close to this area! Also a fun fact: Argentina is the 6th leading wine-producer in the world!
Of course, we simply cannot forget about dessert. One popular item is called alfajores, which are essentially shortbread cookies sandwiching some creamy and decadent dulce de leche. Dulce de leche is a lot like caramel, and is made by caramelizing sugar in condensed milk. Ohhh man, I can’t wait to try me some of that!
A spin off of this is a cake called torta rogel, or alfajor rogel, which is made of thin, crispy layers of pastry, filled with dulce de leche, and topped with Italian meringue. Yes. Yes to all of that.
Actually most of Argentina’s desserts include dulce de leche in some form. Or cheesecake. Or chocolate. No complaints here!
For more amazing desserts, click here! http://www.amautaspanish.com/blog/5-postres-argentinos-tipicos-que-te-puedes-perder/
The way coffee is prepared in Argentina traces back to their Italian roots. Like in all of Europe, coffee is essentially a shot of espresso with foamed or steamed milk, or even water to make it an americano. Only in America do we drink coffee all watered down.
If you say you just want a café without specifying, you will get a café chico, which is the shot of espresso we were talking about.
I liked this picture because you can see how small it is!
A café en jarrito is two espresso shots in a mug. Drink this if you don’t plan on sleeping any time soon.
A café cortado, or a macchiato, is the more popular choice. This is your shot of espresso with milk.
Then there’s the café con crema, where instead of milk, they add cream for a smoother flavor.
A café con leche is half espresso, half milk.
As you can see, coffee can be had in a large variety of ways!!
If you’re not particularly a coffee lover, you can always rely on a submarino to pick you up. Served in a clear class, it’s warm, frothy milk with a piece of chocolate dunked in. This chocolate melts into a velvety, sweet treat. In the end, it looks (and probably tastes) a lot like hot chocolate!
Lastly, we can’t forget about mate! Repeat after me, “mah-teh”. That’s it!
Mate is a very strong and bitter green tea that is popular in South American countries, and it the official beverage of Argentina. Highly caffeinated, it gives the drinker a jolt of energy for the afternoon and evening hours. It is served in a beautiful, hand carved gourd and taken out of a straw with a mesh filter inside, because the tea leaves are loose.
Interestingly enough, the name of the tea, yerba mate, and the gourd it is taken out of share the same name—mate. The metal straw that is used is called a bombilla pronounced either “bohm-bee-ya” or if you’re Argentinian, “bohm-bee-sha”. This tea is shared in the mid-afternoon hours, often with a little sweet snack to counterbalance the bitterness of the tea. One person is the designated pourer and uses a thermos filled with hot (but not boiling!) water to fill the gourd between sips. The pourer passes the gourd to the first person and they take a sip. When they are finished, they pass the gourd back to the pourer to refill and give to the next person. Here, it is important to remember to not say “gracias” in between fillings, because that would mean that you are done and you’ve had enough! Save your manners to the very end.
This is what the bombilla straw looks like.
I wrote more about this tea drinking ritual in one of my London posts, when I shared some mate with my Buenos Aires friends, las porteñas (people from Buenos Aires).
Bash Wikipedia all you want, but it’s got some valuable information…for more info on all the foods of Argentina, check out this link! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argentine_cuisine#Typical_foods
Now that I’ve probably increased your appetite with all this food talk, I’m going to leave you now for another week. In about TWO WEEKS, I’ll be enjoying all of the amazing cuisine the Argentina has to offer. I can’t wait!
¡Hasta la próxima semana!