Ohana Sailing Adventure

Argentina

When we think about the foods that we experienced in our almost 2 months in Argentina, these are the pictures that come to mind:

  • Ham and cheese – everywhere, any time of day; jamon cocido (‘cooked’ ham) or jamon crudo (similar to prosciutto)
  • Medialunas – something like a croissant but sweeter (medialuna de manteca) or saltier (medialuna de graso)
  • Milanesas – thin cut of meat breaded and fried, usually with papas fritas (French fries) – sometimes served plain, sometimes ‘napolitana’ (tomato sauce, melted cheese, +/- ham), sometimes ‘a caballo’ (a fried egg ‘on horseback’ over the dish)
  • Dulce de leche – hands down the girls’ favorite, best described as a thick caramel sauce, but that doesn’t do it justice… it’s served with flan, has an entire grocery store aisle dedicated to it, and is used in lots of other sweets including in a cookie called an alfajor
  • Liquid yogurts – served with breakfast, poured over cereal
  • Pizza – like ham and cheese, it seems to be everywhere, different of course from what we were used to in the US (fewer herbs, less spicy) – the girls’ favorite here was a pizza covered with papas fritas; they have a great technique of popping another pizza pan over the pizza at the table to keep it warm
  • Helado – ice cream – lots of ice cream shops everywhere, and the standard is to get 2 flavors – usually one in the bottom of the cone and one on top
  • Chorizo – flavorful but not spicy like Mexican chorizo
  • Empanadas – savory hand pies, most commonly filled with ham and cheese, chicken, or beef, sometimes cheese and onions, sometimes other vegetarian options
  • Malbecs – the land of the Malbec, mostly from the wine region of Mendoza, and often cheaper to order with a meal than bottled water; easy to find lots of great Malbecs in the grocery for less than US $10

 

 

Mate is something that deserves its own mention. An Argentinian social tradition as much as a culinary one, yerba mate is a tea that has different characteristics depending on the region from which the leaves come. Like dulce de leche, an entire aisle (at least) is dedicated to bags and bags of mate at the grocery store. The tea leaves are put directly in the mate cup, steeped in hot water, and then drunk with a filter straw; more hot water is added as needed. It’s drunk socially – mate cups are handed around to friends, and even offered to strangers as it was offered to us on various tours that we took. Stores sell mate containers – the cup for the mate as well as a place for the thermos of hot water. Mate is everywhere – people stroll the streets with their mate cups, they bring it with them on vacation; we even saw police officers walking down the street with mate containers over their shoulders. When we were at Iguazu Falls, there were big buckets set out for people to dump their mate leaves when they were finished, as well as specific hot water stations inside that people could use to refill their thermoses.

 

 

But the biggest thing that we think about when we think about Argentina is the BEEF. A parrilla is an Argentine steakhouse. All parts of the cow are on the menu and portions are huge; side dishes are offered, but the majority of the meal is beef. Although they grill using only salt, the flavor is unbelievable, likely because it is so fresh and the ‘cow to table’ time is a matter of only a few days at most.

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Other parts of Argentinian cuisine that come to mind –  eating dinner at 9pm or later. It’s often hard to find restaurants open before 8pm. With the girls routinely getting to bed at 11 or 12, it made our mornings really late, which is not something that we adjusted to well as a family. On the flip side of dinner, though, I fell in love with the ‘cortado’ – basically espresso with a little bit of milk added to cut the slight bitterness; it became our post-meal ritual when we ate out.

 

 

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