It’s easy to get carried away with the stereotypical image of Argentina as the land of red meat, but there is far more to Argentine cuisine than empanadas and steak. Which is obvious when you think of the ingredients that make up this country – Hispanic, pre-colonial and endless waves of immigrants, all mixed together in a rich stew. Scratch a little deeper and you will uncover all kinds of other influences. The country’s modern chefs have drawn on regional dishes beyond the Pampa and its famous grass-fed beef cattle…
For a country that takes such pride in its produce (and needs no excuse for a fiesta), it’s remarkable that Argentina’s food and drink festivals are only just gathering pace. Naturally, beef and wine are still the headline acts, but are joined by an increasing number of more specialist events. Here is a look ahead to the best Argentina festivals and fairs in 2012 aimed at the food and wine enthusiast in everyone.
A traditional Latin American Christmas is celebrated on the 24th – known as Noche Buena – not the 25th. The big meal happens after the sun starts to go down, and then it’s straight into party mode, meaning there’s a lot less time (ie none) for TV specials and charades. However, there’s plenty of time for eating.
It is well known that the riverside-dwelling people of Buenos Aires have a blind spot when it comes to fish. So, what is an omega-3-deficient fish-lover supposed to do in the city? Thankfully, It’s not all bad news. Fish is – excuse the pun – catching on. Or at least, it is in a handful of neighbourhoods frequented by foreigners and more adventurous locals. Read on to find out about the best places to get fresh fish and best pescatarian meals!
It is estimated that up to 25 million Argentines can trace their family roots back to Italy and so it is no surprise that, aside from the great asado, the country’s most popular cuisine takes its influence from this part of the world. One of the great things about Buenos Aires is the abundance of fresh pasta – in supermarkets, listed on the chalkboard at your local bodegón, or in your neighbourhood pasta store.
What are minutas? Think of them as Argentinian fast food. Forget the US culture of queuing at a counter and taking away paper cups of French fries; these short-order dishes are served as a sit-down meal, with china plates and waiter service.
Although the differences between natural, live and organic foods are not always clear due to people’s unfamiliarity with the concepts, rest assured that cafés, restaurants, markets and shops using these terms are trying to educate the pizza-and empanada-eating brigade to show that organic Argentine food exists, even if it isn’t stamped.
When in Buenos Aires, open your eyes – and bellies – to the craze that keeps evolving: underground supper clubs. Last week I dined with an ousted cult from Alabama, a brain surgeon on sabbatical and an ex-prostitute from Amsterdam – complete with mini-me poodle (still a poodle). Welcome to the puerta cerrada (closed-door) dining…
“You expect me to drink that?”
Let’s face it, that’s what we are all thinking when attend our first-ever olive oil tasting and a small vial of grassy-gold liquid sits before us. We are virgins in olive oil tasting. Or extra virgins, you could say. We’ve all done more than our fair share of wine tasting during our stay in Mendoza, but there is something weird about being expected to drink – or, OK, sip – an oil. And yet why don’t we pay more attention to the olive oil we consume?
Although the Spanglish verb lunchear has long formed part of the porteño vocabulary, it now needs to budge up and make room for brunchear, an Argentina food trend which has burst onto the scene – and probably popped a few seams as well, given the number of eateries which have mushroomed to serve up brunch of late. Buenos Aires does offer Argentine twists on classic American, English, and even Scandinavian midday meals.