Argentine cuisine has absorbed the best gastronomic traditions of many peoples and cultures. National products are meat dishes from veal and beef, local pastries, wines, as well as exotic ostrich steak and oxtails.
General characteristics of the national Argentine cuisine
Argentine cuisine is characterized by such features:
- a lot of vegetables, root vegetables, cereals are present at the table all year round;
- preparation of fresh meat, without freezing;
- complex dishes using several ingredients of plant or animal origin: meatloaf, stuffed fish, etc .;
- a large number of local fruits on the menu;
- eating different types of meat, from veal to game;
- the use of sweet corn, corn flour;
- lots of fatty, fried foods.
Argentine cuisine is characterized by diversity, formed under the influence of different cultures. Here, anyone can find a dish to their liking: from lovers of meat and fried potatoes to vegetarians, adherents of proper nutrition.
In the cuisine of Argentina there are many vegetables, fruits and grains, which allows you to provide the body with vitamins, minerals, other nutrients.
There are a lot of fish and meat dishes in it, serving as a source of amino acids and protein. According to the proportions of ingredients, the diet is considered balanced, which is due to its proximity to Mediterranean cuisine, which is considered one of the most useful.
Argentine traditions developed under the strong influence of migrants who came, in particular, from Italy and Spain. Some influence was exerted by other peoples: Germans, French, Jews, British.
The original traditions of the indigenous population (Quechua, Mapuchi, Guarani) are most well preserved in the northern mountainous regions, where there were fewer visitors. The influence of African and Indian cuisine is expressed, in particular, the abundance of hot sauces.
The climate in the country had an impact on the development of cuisine. In different regions, it varies from cold mountain to subtropical, which allowed the use of a wide range of products. Thanks to this, here you can find many unusual, exotic combinations, original products: from cactus juice to caiman meat.
Argentine cuisine is characterized by a pronounced regional division. This is due to both the peculiarities of the landscape, local vegetation, and the influence of gastronomic traditions of other countries and peoples.
This region of the country remained the most isolated from the influence of migrants, so ancient culinary traditions have been preserved here. An important role in the diet of the population is played by traditional food: potatoes, maize, the fruits of the carob tree and yatoba, pepper.
They also eat pumpkin, tomatoes, chayote, beans, avocados, quinoa, amaranth. The most common types of meat are beef and veal, but pork, lamb, goat and llama are also eaten.
The most common dishes of the north-western region: empanadas, locro, tamal, umita. Of the drinks, an important part is occupied by wine, because most of the country’s vineyards are concentrated in this region. Of interest is the local beer – aloha. Of the desserts, various sweets from quince, sweet potato are popular.
The traditions of this region were formed under the influence of the cuisine of the Guaraní Indians. The main ingredients for dishes: rice, river fish, cassava. Empanadas are prepared here.
The main type of meat remains beef, but several exotic varieties are added to it, for example, caiman fillet. Of the drinks, mate tea, fruit juices, tinctures, often with the addition of honey, are popular.
In the central regions of Argentina, the influence of European and Mediterranean cuisine, especially Spanish and Italian, is most pronounced. Of the traditional dishes of the local population, only asado, dulce de leche, locro, rice porridge with milk and pastries such as pancakes and pies have been preserved.
To them were added pasta, pizza, polenta, croquettes, jamon, ossobuco, borrowed from the cuisines of different peoples. Of the Russian dishes, there is an olivier salad, but in the Argentine version it is prepared without a meat component.
The southern part of the country borders on the coast, so in the local cuisine you can find many dishes from fish and seafood. Here, as in the center, there is an influence of Spanish and Italian traditions, but delicacies from the UK and Scandinavia are added to them. Most of all, desserts and sweets prepared using chocolate and fresh fruits stand out.
Methods of cooking
Traditional dishes of Argentina are most often fried according to classic recipes – on hot stones, according to modern ones – on a frying pan, grill or hot coals. Sometimes such methods of cooking as stewing, baking, boiling are used.
Traditional main dishes
Argentine cuisine is famous primarily for meat dishes: steaks, rolls, stews. Of interest is the use of unusual, unusual for a tourist ingredients: sweet potato, sweet corn, cassava, etc.
This is meat fried on coals in large pieces. It takes a long time to prepare, since it is not customary to turn it over until the side is completely browned. Coals are lined little by little, but often, so that the meat does not burn, but also does not begin to boil. Spices are not added when frying, only salt. Parillad differs from asado in that only meat parts are fried, without sausages or giblets.
Sandwich with spicy pork sausages – chorizo. They are prepared from minced pork and generously flavored with paprika or chili pepper. Choripan consists of a slice of bread or a hot dog bun and one or more sausages. Additionally, sauces, various vegetables, grated cheese, mushrooms or greens are added – the number of additives is limited only by imagination.
This dish is also called a chop in Milanese. It is prepared most often from chicken. The meat is beaten into a thin layer, dipped in an egg, covered with crispy breadcrumbs, and then fried in oil.
The main advantage of milanese is an appetizing crispy crust, inside of which there is a juicy, soft chicken fillet. A dish with mashed potatoes or vegetable salad is served.
Milanesa is a chop with a crispy crust.
A thick, juicy stew of stewed pork, sweet corn and a special variety of potatoes growing only in local regions. It has a delicate sweet taste.
Served with a red hot sauce, giving the dish an unusual piquancy – it can be either brought separately or added to the plate before serving.
Literally – fried meat. Traditionally cooked on a special grill made from an old plow, or wood-burning stove. The ingredients are most often taken beef ribs, but homemade sausages, chicken, romaine steak, lamb, veal, steaks on the bone, offal – glands, kidneys are also used. Asado is prepared on 2 fires: the first for roasting, the other as a source of smoldering coals to constantly maintain the desired temperature.
The grill is installed at a height of 10 cm above the fire. All products are fried on one grate, but lined gradually, taking into account the cooking time. Salt them at the end to preserve juiciness.
As a result, the dish turns out to be well fried, with a crispy crust. Calculation of products when cooking asado – 0.5 kg per person. The dish is most often prepared by men – asadors. This can often be observed on the balconies or backyards of Argentine houses.
Asado is served with bread, vegetable salad and chimichurri sauce – an extremely spicy dressing based on garlic. The dish is complemented by red wine and dessert: fresh fruit or cheese with quince jam.
Thick Argentine soup, which is a cross between chowder and stew. Meat is added to it, sometimes sausages. An indispensable component are vegetables, whole or cut into 2-3 parts.
Depending on the region, it can be potatoes, a cob of young corn, string beans, carrots, onions. Spices are added before serving. They eat puchero in an unusual way: separately lay out the thickness, after which they finish the broth with a spoon.
Small oval potato dumplings. Served most often as a side dish to meat or sausages, but sometimes used as a stand-alone dish. In the second version, gnocchi is served with basil, tomato sauce, cheese.
A dish similar to boiled pork is made from pork loin. It is fried to a crispy crust, after which it is brought to readiness in the oven, sometimes adding beer or other sauce.
A piece of beef (taken only from individual parts of the tenderloin, specially used for steaks) cooked on the grill. Seasoned only with salt and pepper.
In Argentina, you can try the following types of steaks:
- basio – prepared from the part of the mascara between the thigh and rib;
- beef de lomo – fillet, completely devoid of fat;
- ozo de bifé – the local analogue of ribai;
- bifo de chorise – a tenderloin from the upper thigh with a thin layer of fat from the sides, giving the meat a special juiciness;
- bifo de kostigya – an analogue of steak tibon;
- colitis de cuadryl is a piece cut from the lower part of the thigh, about half of which is occupied by fat, due to which the dish turns out to be hearty and juicy.
Big companies should order baby beef. This is a large, weighing more than 1 kg, piece of meat, grilled whole, designed for a group of several people.
Fine steak meatloaf. The meat is beaten into a layer, salted, gloved, wrapped in it filling. Most often it becomes carrots, eggs, cheese, pepper, other vegetables. The finished roll is cooked on coals or baked in the oven so that the steak is completely soaked in juice of the rest of the ingredients.
Pies made of thin dough with filling. The most favorite filling of the inhabitants of Argentina is meat, fried with a lot of onions, a piece of boiled egg, olive. The size of empanadas is small – for 1-2 bites, so they are often sold in sets of 12 pieces.
Fish & Seafood
Fish and other edible marine life in Argentina are caught on the Atlantic coast. Fresh seafood can be tasted in many tourist cities.
Popular among tourists and locals are:
- merluza a la Provenzal – grilled whiting fillet (tender white fish with a small amount of fat) on a pillow of stewed tomatoes with olive oil and herbs;
- filete de corvina al ajillo – corvina fillet fried in garlic breading in coconut oil;
- abadejo guisado con patatas – fish soup from pieces of abadejo with potatoes and herbs;
- fried cornalithos – these small fish are breaded, deep-fried, eaten whole, without peeling off the skin and bones;
- trucha a la plancha – peeled and grilled wild trout, served with a side dish of potatoes or rice;
- pescado relleno de mariscos – fish fillet, stuffed with seafood (most often shrimp, minced crab, mussels, etc.) with vegetables, herbs, garlic, and then baked in foil;
- rabas – batter-fried squid rings;
- paella – a dish borrowed from italian cuisine, is a frying pan of saffron-colored rice with the addition of various seafood;
- cazuela de mariscos – a thick, rich soup with vegetables, shrimps, squid, mussels, baby octopuses, pieces of fish, served in large pans designed for several people;
- pulpo a la gallega – fried tentacles of mollusks with pieces of potatoes under hot chili peppers;
- gambas al ajillo – large shrimps cooked in large quantities of oil with garlic.
In Argentina, you can try live oysters, octopuses, freshly caught white and red fish, including trout. Seafood is prepared in different ways: not only boiled or fried, but also pickled, smoked, dried for long-term storage.
Tourists in Argentina should pay attention to unusual exotic dishes.
- viscachi fillet (a wild rodent that tastes like a rabbit) with vegetables;
- bull’s tails stewed in red wine;
- giant ostrich eggs, ostrich steaks;
- armadillo meat – it is stewed or fried;
- bovine eggs;
- lama dishes: soups, stews, roasts;
- unusual vegetables, fruits, cereals: sugar corn, tuna fruits, cactus juice, membrijo, palm core, quinoa, amaranth.
Fans of the exotic will like the local game: baked caiman fillet, capybara, zebu. These unusual dishes can not be tasted in any other corner of the planet.
In the production of sweets in Argentina, an important role is played by local fruits: coconuts, quince, membrijo, carob fruits, yatoba, etc. Unusual ingredients are used: the core of a palm tree, edible cacti.
Among the locals, pastries made of corn flour, including sweet ones, are in demand. Common desserts with the addition of honey, soft cheese, chocolate.
The classic sweet snack of the Argentine is a piece of cheese with sweet potato or quince jelly called queso con dulce.
Dulce de Leche
A dessert of fresh milk and sugar, sometimes prepared with the addition of vanilla or cinnamon. It tastes like caramel or boiled condensed milk, but more liquid.
It is used as a sauce or for the preparation of various dishes. The dulce de leche pudding is called a phalanx, and the pies stuffed with it, drizzled with chocolate, are called alfahor.
A traditional dessert made from maize, water, sugar, vanilla, sometimes with the addition of milk. It is believed that slaves were the first to sell it after their release. Their masamorra was the most delicious due to the fact that when transported on horseback, the dish was shaken well.
Since ancient times, the dessert was consumed with honey, which was collected in the forest by the Indians. Now the dish is considered traditional for the national holidays of Argentina, such as May 25 and Independence Day.
Alfajores de Maisena
A recipe inspired by Spanish traditions. It is 2 or more round sweet cookies, interconnected by a sweet filling: caramel, honey, fruit jam or jelly, mousse, etc. On top of it, it is poured with chocolate or glaze, sprinkled with crumbs, coconut chips or powdered sugar.
Drinks in Argentina
Among the drinks of Argentina, the most interesting are hot teas and decoctions, which help local residents overcome mountain sickness, have a tonic, invigorating effect. In their preparation, local plants are widely used. Of the alcoholic beverages, the most common are wine and beer.
Of the alcoholic beverages in Argentina, the most popular are wines of its own production. They began to produce more than 400 years ago.
Many European countries have invested in winemaking. The peculiarity of local wine production is that the vineyards are located in the mountains, at an altitude of 2500 m above sea level. This gives local grape varieties unusual taste.
The largest of the wine provinces are Mendoza, Salta, San Juan and Chubut. Among the local population, red wine is especially in demand. The best variety is Malbec.
In addition to it, it is worth paying attention to Caberne, Pino-Nuar, Tempranillo and Merlot. Among the white wines, it is recommended to try Torontis, El Esteco, Bodega Domingo Molina and Cafayate.
Many wineries have tasting rooms where you can taste several types of products or restaurants with views of the mountains and vineyards.
Some establishments offer excursions, where tourists are introduced to the history of Argentine winemaking, show the process of preparing a noble drink: from growing grapes to obtaining a finished product.
In addition to wine, beer is produced in Argentina. The largest brand is Quilnes, offering more than 10 varieties of this drink. In many cities there are local pubs, breweries, where you can try fresh draught beer of unusual varieties.
Of the strong alcoholic beverages, gin and whiskey are popular. Of interest is fernet – a strong bitter tincture on herbs. In its pure form, it is rarely drunk because of the strong specific taste, but it is used in various cocktails with the addition of sweet drinks. Of the alcoholic cocktails of Argentina, The most famous is Calimocho: a mixture of red wine with Coca-Cola and a lot of ice.
The most common soft drink in Argentina is mate tea. It is prepared from the crushed leaves of the shrub. The dry mixture is placed in a special vessel – calabasa, made from cork pumpkin.
Then it is poured with water – hot, but not boiling. Sometimes other herbs, juices, ice, citrus fruits, fruits, berries are added to tea. Drink mate through a special tube, which is called bombilla. The resulting drink has tonic properties, perfectly quenches not only thirst, but also hunger.
Argentines love coffee. It is imported into the country from Colombia and Brazil. Most often, strong, undiluted drinks, such as espresso, are served.
In the northern regions of the state, tea is prepared from coca leaves. It helps to overcome altitude sickness, has a tonic, warming effect. The drink is most in demand among residents of cities located on the high Andes.
In Argentina, fried and fatty dishes, desserts with a lot of sugar, pastries are quite popular. Therefore, people suffering from diseases of the digestive system, overweight or other conditions that require a special diet should be careful with local cuisine.
Argentine mate tea is forbidden to drink patients with hypertension, because it causes an increase in blood pressure. Refrain from drinking this drink is also those who have problems with sleep or the nervous system, because it is a fairly strong energy.