When visiting the South American country of Argentina, Gastronomy is such an important part of their culture; you get the opportunity to experience a place whose culture has been infused from the Spanish, the Italian and the French descendants. Regardless of these influences don’t expect to be served classic dishes from any of those countries. When you sit down to a meal in Argentina you will be treated to classic meals with a distinctly Argentine twist. It’s hard to put your finger on exactly what it is, but you are guaranteed to fall in love with the food in Argentina.
Argentina is a meat-consuming country, particularly with beef. Argentine Steak is world-famous and is the number one must-try when visiting the country. You can expect a grass-fed, high-quality, tender, and delicious cut of meat when you enjoy an Argentine Steak. Head to the nearest Parrilla and see for yourself what all the fuss is about.
In Argentina, you will often hear about “Asados,” or Barbecues. This will refer to the technique or the social gathering. As the national dish of Argentina, you may find the traditional asado along with other types of “Achuras,” or Offal. Achuras are typically the internal organs of an animal or parts of an animal less traditionally eaten. These are a very popular appetizer in this country.
Not commonly an eat-and-run culture, Argentina does have one favorite for their limited amount of street food, the “Choripan”, or the hot dog. Choripanes are often served right off of the grill on a roll. A common condiment to add to the Choripan is the spicy, green sauce chimichurri. Choripanes can be grabbed from a vendor as a snack, or you might commonly find them served as an appetizer during the preparation of an asado.
Empanadas are a type of baked bread or pastry folded over and typically stuffed with meats, vegetables or even fruits. Often empanadas are served as another type of appetizer or snack. Sometimes fruits are made into a filling to create a dessert empanada. These are also one of the most popular dishes in Argentina.
A unique dish that comes with many flavors, the Matambre is made with very thin slices of meat. After the meat is stuffed with vegetables, hard-boiled eggs and herbs, it is then rolled and roasted. After it is finished cooking, it is sliced into thin pieces of lunch meat, served hot or cold, and often used on a sandwich.
The Milanesa is another dish that consists of thinly-sliced meat, usually beef but can vary between types of meat used. The milanesa is usually marinated and always breaded. It is often served straight up, hot with fried or mashed potatoes or it can be served as a sandwich on the go.
Similar to a quiche, the Tarta is great for those who aren’t so fond of the meat-lover’s culture in Argentina. These can, of course, be made with meat as well. This is great as an appetizer or side dish, but those looking for a light dinner could also have it as their main dish.
When you visit Argentina, you are going to want to buy jars of this sweet, creamy confection to take home with you. Originating in South America, the dessert literally translates to “candy of milk.” You can find dulce de leche on breads, medialunas (croissants), cookies and ice cream.
A deliciously sweet, end-of-dinner treat is made of 2 round cookies with filling in between. Often containing the traditional dulce de leche sandwiched inside, you could also try variations such as chocolate or fruit jam filling.
This South American, caffeine-rich drink is sometimes referred to as Yerba Mate. This is a traditional drink to be consumed on social occasions. It is often passed around in a hollowed gourd and drunk through a metal straw. The drink itself can be bitter so it is common to add sugar or honey.
Argentina is, by far, a food lover’s country. You will find such a large amount of things to try that you might just come home with a book full of recipes to try. Depending on which region of the country you are staying in, find out what their specific delicacy is and give it a whirl. Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. To protect yourself as you wander outside your comfort zone consider purchasing a worldwide travel insurance policy from Cover-More Australia
Image courtesy of Flickr user Jonny Hunter