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Argentina Food and Drink - Culture And Arts - Argentina

Argentine Beef

No discussion of Argentina’s cuisine would be accurate if beef wasn’t brought up first.

With more than four percent of the world's cattle raised by Argentine ranchers, it’s no surprise that Argentina’s grass-fed beef is world-renowned and nationally consumed. Argentina has the highest meat consumption rate in the world, with an average of 150 pounds eaten per capita annually!

With so much beef around, it’s easy to find it prepared in a variety of ways everywhere you go. No matter how you like your beef, in Argentina carnivores are guaranteed to get their bang for their buck. If you’ve had enough Gaucho food (Gauchos are Argentine cowboys that allegedly eat beef three times a day), this large and diverse country offers dishes for every palate. The following are a few of the favorites:

  • Asado: barbecued
  • A la parilla or Churrasco: grilled
  • Carbonada: stewed with potatoes and vegetables
  • Milanesa: breaded and fried with chimichurri sauce and potatoes on the side.

Foreign Influences

Unlike most of its Latin American counterparts, Argentine food has strayed far from its pre-Hispanic roots and has very strong Italian, French and Spanish influences. With the arrival of Spanish settlers in the 16th century and nearly one million more immigrants from Europe in the 19th century, Argentine food has a uniquely international flavor.

Italian dishes that can be found everywhere in Argentina include pizza, pasta, ravioli, and cannelloni. Delicious Italian-style ice-cream is also quite common and with dozens of flavors to choose from in every heladeria, this treat is sure to satisfy a serious sweet tooth.

Many desserts have their roots in Spain, such as:

  • churros: fried-dough pastries
  • flan. a custard similar to crème caramel
  • Alfajores: sandwich cookies filled with dulce de leche—creamy caramelized milk syrup.

Traditional Dishes in Argentina

The cities of Argentina’s northwest, including Salta, Jujuy, Tucuman and Catamarca showcase pre-Hispanic ingredients and cuisine that are significantly less available in other parts of the country. Staple ingredients of traditionally Latin dishes such as quinoa, beans, chili peppers and avocados all grow readily in this region.

Traditional Indian dishes of the region include:

  • Locro: a stew of sausage, corn, and other vegetables
  • Tamales: steamed cornmeal dough filled with meat or cheese
  • Humitas: fresh ground corn cooked in its husk
  • Empanadas: fried or baked pastries filled with meat. Those from Salta are considered the tastiest in the country.
  • TorrontĂ©s: the best quality white grapes of Argentina, used to make great wine (also common in Salta).

Mendoza and the Argentine Wine Country

South of Salta but northwest of Buenos Aires is Mendoza and the surrounding wine country. Arguably Argentina’s most popular red wine, Malbec has put Argentine wine on the global map. While the Malbec grape has difficulty growing in France, it thrives in Argentina’s sunny climate, and the best quality Malbec can be found in the Mendoza region. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay are also produced in Mendoza and other wine regions in Argentina. Visiting wineries in Argentina is a great way to take in the beautiful surrounding scenery while sampling wines of international quality and value.

Yerba Mate and Bariloche Chocolate

The northeast region, with Corrientes as its main city, is also an important region for Argentina’s culture and cuisine as it provides the national non-alcoholic drink, Yerba Mate, to the rest of the country and neighboring ones. Mate is a very popular bitter tea drank out of a small wooden gourd, also called mate, with a metal bombilla, a spoon that doubles as a straw. Mate is typically shared by passing the gourd around among friends, making it a social activity and also somewhat of a ritual. If you spend even a small amount of time in Argentina, you are sure to come across groups of friend drinking this tea out of often beautifully crafted gourds, and should you be offered some Mate, it is considered rude if you refuse it. Carrying around your own Mate, then, is also a great way to meet people, as it is a drink meant for sharing and is good for breaking the ice.

Anyone who is serious about chocolate will fall in love with Bariloche, whose streets are lined with colorful chocolate shops and fondue restaurants. Thanks to central European immigration, Bariloche is like a Swiss town in the heart of Argentina’s Lake District, and you can easily spend an entire day puttering around town and sampling an obscene amount of sweets from its large selection of tempting shops.

Culture and Arts, Food

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Argentina: An Argentine Meat Feast, Patagonian Food, Vegetarian Survival in Argentina, Meals in Argentina, Food in Buenos Aires, Tips For Taking Tea In Gaiman and Bodega La Caroyense.

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