11 Foodie Gifts & Non-Touristy Souvenirs You Can’t Leave Argentina Without
You have one day left in Buenos Aires and picking up a tango postcard for your friends and loved ones just isn’t going to cut it. Since the best gift you could ever give someone is something edible, we have come up with a list of the best foodie gifts you just can’t leave Argentine without.
Oh for the love of sweet, creamy ice cream, Buenos Aires might be the most helado-rific city in the whole wide world. Welcome to year round summertime-wintertime-warm weather-cold weather bliss. Walk down just about any block in this crazy capital and you’ll be sure to find a flavor-packed multicolored display of glorious ice cream, served by the cone, cup, or kilo.
Argentina has a very special amorous relationship with postres (desserts). Sugary, gooey, chocolaty, caramel-y, fruity, and creamy; sweet lovers will sure not be disappointed when it comes to navigating the Buenos Aires post meal sweet-induced food world. Suck on a spoonful of dulce de leche and bite into a cake oozing with a rich chocolate center – it’s time to live la vida dulce and get to know some of Argentina’s most popular desserts.
Two weeks ago, I was walking towards London Bridge after work through Borough Market. People in the pubs spilled out on to the pavements to make the most of the warm air. I’d stopped in a pub on the way home with a couple of friends and we were in no hurry. Then I saw Porteña (tag line: Argentinian Street Food), and I was overwhelmed with memories (it doesn’t take a lot). We perched on one of the stools outside, ordered half a dozen empanadas (dos de carne, dos de pollo y dos de jamon y queso), a bottle of Malbec (Quilmes was on offer – obvio) and I was back in Buenos Aires…
Although many visitors make a beeline for Argentina because of the peso’s good value compared with the pound or dollar, why not spend some of that saved cash on some luxury activities in Buenos Aires? From spa sessions to polo lessons, Buenos Aires serves up these days out, and more, on a spoon so silver it could have been dipped in the River Plate circa 1810.
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.
Is it a cake? Is it a biscuit? Who cares? An alfajor can combine chocolate, dulce de leche, meringue, coconut, icing sugar, jam and even mousse – it would be an all-encompassing meal if only it had a meaty filling.
Recently my vegetarian mate Brian came to Argentina – land of the cow – on a ‘meat sabbatical’. OK, that’s not strictly true – he came here to go skiing in Bariloche, but what he discovered in Buenos Aires was so much more enriching, literally: parrillas
An influx of Italian immigrants in the 1870s and again in the 1940s left Buenos Aires with a strong Italian heritage. Evidence of this can be seen by flicking through the surnames in a phone book and by taking notice of the nation’s indulgence in ice cream. Often claiming to be better than gelato, Argentinian-made ice cream has got to be the country’s second staple after beef. You never have to walk far to find the neighborhood’s ice cream parlors (that’s right, plural)…
Argentines will tell you the best stuff is when mamma makes it, but making dulce de leche from scratch is a bit like waiting for a solar eclipse. You wait and wait (stirring condensed milk on a low heat for two to three hours), and finally see its magnificence for a brief moment, but it soon disappears with the blink of an eye. It’s best to keep a small stockpile in your cupboard…