“Argentina is very famous for his amazing meat.” That was about all I knew about Argentine food when I arrived to Buenos Aires for my Spanish course.
Soon I’d find out that, to start with, Argentine people eat four times a day, instead of three. The first meal of the day is ‘el desayuno’ (the breakfast). Breakfast in Argentina is smaller than the usual American or European breakfast. The typical Argentine breakfast is a cafe or a ‘mate’, the typical Argentine caffeine-rich kind of herb tea, with a medialuna (a croissant) or toast, served with mermelade or dulce the leche (caramel-like substance).
The mate is typically prepared from yerba mate (special herbs) in a special cup with hot water; people use metal straw (bombilla) to drink it and for Argentine people mate drinking is a ritual, a cultural event. The ‘cup’ (also called: mate), is shared by the people you are drinking with and everyone drinks from the same straw. You can refill it with water many times without changing the herbs, untill the water gets cold or the yerba separetes from the water; this means you need to prepare a new mate. In Argentine and Uruguay you’ll see many people on the street with in one hand a hot water thermos and in the other hand, a cup with yerba mate.
Around one or two pm it’s lunch time, time for el almuerzo. Lunch is one of the two big meals in Argentina. Many people will eat an amazing Argentine steak for lunch, probably about the best lunch you can have! Anoter dish often served for lunch, is “milanesa”: breaded chicken or beef, served with french fries or on a sandwich.
If you are in a hurry, Argentina offers different options for a quick lunch (on the street) such as baked empanadas, tarta or a nice italian pizza.
Tarta is like a quiche and it’s a good vegetarion option, although there are tartas with meat as well. Tartas taste really well, so do the Argentine pizzas. Before I signed up for my Spanish course in Argentina, I had no idea there is so much Italian food here. Totally my fault. Due to the high numer of Italian inmigrants, Italian food is very popular in Buenos Aires. Besides pizzas, ravioli and pasta are popular options, as the well known Noquis (from the Italian gnocchi). Noquis are a type of pasta thick and soft, often made from semola, flour, egg, cheese, potatoes.
My personal favorite Argentine streetfood are empanadas. Argentine empanadas are quick, cheap, and delicous and you can buy them pretty much at every street corner in Buenos Aires. There are three main flavours: ham with cheese, meet and chicken. Besides those main ingredientes, empanadas can be stuffed with spinach, cheese, mushrooms and so on. Really nice!
The third Argentine meal is a late afternoon snack. There are two reasons why this so called ‘merienda’ is important. The first reason is that dinner won’t be served till 10pm, so in between lunch and dinner you really want to eat something. The second reason is that Argentine people love to go to cafes to eat their ‘merienda’. Here are many famous cafes in Buenos Aires, special meeting points to discuss social, political and intellectual issues. A well known café is Café Tortoni.
Finally, around 10 pm, it’s dinner time. This is a big meal again and at many ocasions you will eat a nice piece of beef (again). Other typical options are – again – pasta, or others.
Sunday is a special day for Argentine families. Sunday is the day that the family usually lunch together: the favorite option for this is – you can imagine: asado or barbecue. Asado is a traditional dish and usually includes beef, pork, chicken and sausages. All is cooked on a grill, called parilla, or an open fire. The asado is the most popular social gathering in Argentina and no weekend is truly complete without it.