10 Foodie Treats Not to Miss in Argentina
Just to let you know, this post was written before I went fully paleo to help ease my psoriasis. Nowadays I eat a more allergy-friendly diet, but leave these older, non-paleo posts up in case they are useful to readers, as I know not everyone eats the same as I do. Thanks for your understanding.
Ah, yes. The stuff Argentina's famous for. And it's cheap. We picked up a large amount of prime bife de chorizo (the same cut as sirloin over here) for the equivalent of about £10, in a butcher's in Buenos Aires. So as it's so cheap, it's unsurprising that Argentines eat quite a lot of it. But be prepared - it won't be served rare unless you ask, and you won't usually find it drenched in sauces like we do over here - they say it takes the flavour away from the beef, and you definitely don't want to do that. It cuts like butter, is full of flavour and is usually served in gigantic portions. Desperate Dan, eat your heart out.
Like little pasties, but the pastry isn't shortcrust or puff - it's a special, more elastic blend of flour and lard. Empanadas aren't usually spicy but are filled with minced beef, egg, cheese, veggies, chicken - anything really. You'll find empanadas in supermarkets, where as well as being sold ready to eat, you can also buy just the frozen packs of pastry discs ('masa') ready for filling and baking. Make sure you buy the right ones: 'para horno' means they're to be baked, while 'para freir' means they need to be fried.
Fernet and Ananá Fizz
|Fernet Branca - a drink enjoyed in Argentina|
Two amazing drinks enjoyed in Argentina. They're both alcoholic - Frenet is often served with cola and has a slight aniseed flavour - it's actually an Italian drink that's caught on over there in a big way and contains a blend of spices and herbs. Ananá fizz (pronounced 'an-an-A-fiss') is pineapple cider - a sweet and refreshing fizzy drink that slips down all too easily. Don't get too tipsy, now.
|Asado - the Argentine barbecue|
Not an obvious Argentine food, but the country has a big Italian heritage and you can find some gorgeous, light fresh pasta there. There are even shops - like delis - that sell just fresh pasta - where you can take home fresh ravioli for heating at home and serving with your favourite sauces.
You can't head back home until you've tried an alfajore or, preferably, at least a dozen. They're little biscuits sandwiched with dulce de leche (Argentine caramel) and then coated either in chocolate or crushed meringue. You can buy them in newsagents, supermarkets, corner shops - they're the go-to sweet snack. Havannah is considered a good quality brand - but a bit pricey - while Jorgitos taste very similar but slightly less rich.
This is the drink of the gaucho, the Argentine herdsman used to camping out at night and sipping on an ornate mate cup as the sun goes down. It's a green tea - the dried leaves are spooned into the cup and then boiling water is added for each person. It's then passed around, a fresh drink made for each person at the table. A few tips on manners: don't stir the bombilla (the metal straw that you sip the tea with), drink all of the drink before passing back to the person with the kettle and for goodness' sake never blow into the bombilla or be squeamish about sharing it with everyone else. When in Argentina, etc etc etc.
|Argentine Pizza Provencale - with parsley and garlic|
|Sweet and crunchy garrapiñadas - peanuts roasted in caramel|
Peanuts, roasted in caramel. They're crunchy, they're sweet, and you can't stop at one handful. Sold in cellophane cones at football matches, at stalls on the subways and at markets, they're the typical Argentine street food. If you're lucky you'll get them while they're still warm.
|Argentine chorizos on an asado|
Have you been to Argentina? What foods would you recommend that visitors don't miss out on?