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Argentina - Food and Drink
Delicacies in Argentina are usually centered around meat, meaning it can be easy for a vegetarian to feel out of place. Nevertheless, many restaurants do have vegan options. For meat lovers, Argentinians would be glad to invite you to a barbecue party.
One of the most common Argentinian dishes is criolla, which is grilled or barbecued meat. This dish is served with pasta, salads, and other accompaniments. As you move from region to region, you will notice that the local delicacies are influenced, both in nutrition and flavor, by the ingredients unique to each region.
In addition, Argentinean recipes are heavily influenced by outside cultures. For example, churros, alfajores, and an array of traditional stew all borrow their heritage from Spain. European delicacies such as croissants, locally known as medialunas, are also part of the Argentinean food. The Welsh also have an influence over how the Argentineans dine. Tea and scones is a common trend in many Argentine homes; a habit borrowed from Welsh people.
Argentinians also love to revamp some traditional recipes. Pizza recipes were borrowed from the Italians, but Argentinians spruce it up a bit. Local pizza has a thicker crust than those used in Western fast food joints. Pasta sauces are also creamier and may be mistaken for stew.
Meal times in Argentina are quite different from in the West. Argentinians generally prefer to eat lightly in the morning and indulge more during lunch or dinner. When dining with a local family, evening meals are served at 10pm. In restaurants, the earliest dinner can be served is around 8pm.
Breakfast in Argentina may be as simple as having toast and a hot drink, or yoghurt and fruit. Bread and pastries like croissants are common during breakfast. Some hotels and restaurants will give more breakfast options.
Lunch is a full buffet with plenty of sumptuous choices. Expect an array of meat delicacies served with an accompaniment of your choice. Popular meat dishes you should try include locro, cazuella gaucho and carbonado. Locro is a pork dish served with white beans and sweet corn stew. Cazuella gaucho is chicken garnished with pumpkin, while carbonado is a beef dish with lots of vegetables and fruits, usually peaches and apples.
Beef is the main ingredient in many Argentinian meat dishes. However, in differing regions, beef may be replaced by lamb or goat. Regions close to the coastline will use fish in most of their dishes. The garnish for the main course also varies across the country. Common garnishes used for meals such as cazuella gaucho and carbonado may be switched for quinoa, marzipan, or exotic fruit. For vegetarians, lunch menus at many restaurants have great pasta dishes to try. Vegan pizza is also available and is prepared in classic Italian style.
Dinner is as indulgent as lunch, and is usually a three-course meal complete with appetizers, main dish, and a generous serving of dessert.
For starters, you can sample some empanadas, which are pastry stuffed with meat. Some restaurants serve chorizo and achuras, which are animal entrails. It is easy to become full just from sampling appetizers, so be sure to leave room for the main course.
The main course is usually a generous serving of meat, such as sirloin steak. You should also try the famous Argentinian barbecued beef, which is different cuts of ribs, steak, rump, sausage and so on. Argentinians rarely let any part of the slaughtered animal go to waste. Salads, pasta and sauces also accompany main course meals. There are restaurants that serve pasta and sauces separately, so make sure you ask about this.
For dessert, anyone with a sweet tooth will definitely enjoy locally made Italian gelato or ice cream. Then there is dulce de leche, a local condiment made by melting sugar and milk together. This caramel sauce is used as a topping in bread, cakes, biscuits or on your gelato as well. You also must try Argentinean Oreo-style cookies, which is two cookies held together with an ample spread of dulce de leche.
Sweet corn patties or humitas are served in restaurants and street side vendors. You can also try empanadas, which is a pastry snack filled with mince beef, ham, and chicken, and then topped with cheese. Tamales, which are cornmeal tortillas topped with meat, are popular with locals.
Two other snacking options for tourists are matambre relleno and sandwiches de miga. Matambre relleno looks like spring roll stuffed with beef. Sandwiches de miga are white bread stuffed with ham and cheese; unlike other sandwiches, these Argentinian snacks have the crusts cut off.
Drinks In Argentina
Wine is the preferred beverage in Argentina. The best wine comes from Mendoza region, which is the largest wine producer in the country. Argentina holds several wine tasting events where tourists flock and mingle with the local wine connoisseurs. If you cannot make it to a wine festival, you can still have a glass or two of the finest brands served by local wine bars and pubs.
Argentineans occasionally indulge in a beer. Pubs and bar serve beer in small glasses, bottles or cans. Popular Argentinean beer brands include Isenbeck, Schneider and Quilmes. You can also find imported brands such as Carlsberg, Heineken and Guinness. In local villages, you can sample traditional brew known as cervezas artesanales. Some of the bars and pubs in the cities will have this popular beer as well. Another local brew to try out is Fernet, which is beer made from herbs. This is an acquired taste however, and the alcohol content is pretty high, so take care! In pubs, Fernet is often served with soft drinks.
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