Eat your Heart out in Buenos Aires

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food staples argentina

There is no better joy than figure out what foods are your favorite in other countries. While I can’t tell you what foods you’ll like, I can definitely tell you what I like. Argentina has wide variety of absolutely delicious foods from picadas (appetizers) to postre (dessert).  So here’s my favorites:

Facturas

For me, facturas are the best. These tasty little pastries are bought (by me) every morning. And I mean every, single morning. Bakeries open at the crack of dawn and people go to get their facturas and bring them into the office, school, or wherever they need to go. Usually they are bought in bulk and shared with people around you, but you can also buy just one or two for breakfast or whenever really.

My first few weeks here I tried every pastry shop  on my way to school. There are 6 of them. I’ve gotten it down to a science which store has better facturas. There are different types of facturas, the three most important to me are crema pastelera, medialunas, and ducle de leche.  The crema pasteleras are a type of factura with a delicious cream in the center of them. One store has better crema pasteleras whereas the medialunas are better at the pastry shop just across the street from the school. The pastry shop across the street is very good and incredibly dangerous because I go there almost every single day. Luckily, facturas are muy baratos (very cheap). They cost 8 or 9 pesos each which is just over 50 cents.

Empanadas

Empanadas are another of my go-to foods. Not only are they fairly fast to get but they’re also absolutely delicious. Empanadas are pastry shells filled with some sort of hearty food inside. The word “empanada” comes from the verb “empanar” meaning “to wrap or coat in bread”.  Most commonly you’ll see beef, chicken, or ham and cheese empanadas. I personally am a huge fan of the beef, and ham and cheese ones. Some places even have Roquefort and ham. Traditionally, Roquefort is a type of blue cheese that comes from a goat, though here it’s just another name for blue cheese. There is a special place in my heart for cheese so I tend to like the empanadas with cheese a lot.

The beef empanadas usually come as picante (spicy) or suave (mild). The picante ones aren’t very spicy usually, they just have more spice than the suave ones and it’s not a big difference. The chicken empanadas are sold the same way. Other empanada fillings very. There’s everything from caprese to broccoli.


Parrillas / Asados

The word “Parrilla” means “grill” and they really love the grills here. One would cook an “asado” on a “parrilla”,  or a barbecue on a grill. The traditional asado is very tied in with the Argentine culture. There are so many different cuts of meat, the Argentinian meat is a whole other blog post of it’s own. We’ll go over just a few here:

  • Lomo – Tenderloin, which comes from the upper back portion of the cow
  • Asado – Yes, it’s a cut as well: ribs.
  • Ojo de Bife – Rib Eye Steak
  • Vacio – Flank

Other non-beef Asado foods:

  • Chorizo – Sausage, and it’s good here. Usually served as Choripan, which as the word implies is a mix between Chorizo and Pan (bread). Also, it’s very delicious when served with chimichurri sauce.
  • Morcilla – Blood Sausage. While this might seem like a turn off at first, it’s actually quite delicious. I suggest trying it while you’re here.
  • Vegetales – Vegetables. Often times vegetables will be chopped up and thrown on the grill as well, then served with the food.

Asados are usually eaten around a table accompanied with a salad, or maybe a few side dishes, served with wine, beer, juice or coca cola. Usually made with friends or family as well.

If you’re at a parrilla and you need to order how your steak is cooked, you can say “muy jugoso” for rare, “jugoso” for medium rare, “a punto” for medium, “cocido” for medium well, or “bien cocido” for well done. Argentinians tend to like their steak more cooked than Americans so keep this in mind when ordering. If you want it medium rare it’s better to say “muy jugoso” and see how it is because you can always get it a bit more cooked when it comes out if it’s under done.

Ice Cream

This ice cream isn’t comparable to that of the states because it is so. much. better. Each ice cream shop makes their own icecream and it is absolutely phenomenal. My personal favorite flavors are banana split, cookies and cream and any type of chocolate. Helado here was brought over by the Italian immigrant’s gelato. Helado here has a lot more similarities to the Italian gelato in that it’s creamier, and churned slower than American ice cream. What I’m trying to say here is that you have all the rights to eat as much ice cream as you want here =P

Milanesas

Milanesas are thin pieces of breaded meat, usually chicken or beef. Milanesas are not a fancy food here, it’s just something eaten casually for lunch or dinner. Milanesas, while they aren’t thick, they can be fairly large, circumference wise. Milanesas are usually served with french fries or salad. Sometimes they are put in a sandwich with lettuce and mayonnaise. They’re fairly cheap and really tasty. I recommend the Milanese a Caballo (which if you speak Spanish I’m sure sounds weird as it translates to ‘Milanesa to Horse’) but it’s definitely not horse meat. It’s topped with a fried egg and sometimes ham and cheese and it’s quite good.  

These are my favorite Argentine dishes, now you have to find your own. Buen provecho!

By Margo Calhoun

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