Ché, if you’re planning a trip to South America, make sure Buenos Aires is high up on your list of places to visit. With an energetic scene of steak, wine and tango, an intriguing Italian inspired culture and a Spanish that will throw you, Buenos Aires cannot be missed. Keep reading for the ins and outs on the Argentinean food and drink culture and stay tuned for following blogs that will include Places to Visit, An Insight into Argentinean Spanish and Traveling Outside Buenos Aires.
The average Argentinian’s diet revolves around 4 main dishes: Steak, pizzas, milanesas (breaded chicken breast) and empanadas (their version of our Cornish pasty). You’ll find every type of empanada you could ever imagine – from the standard carne or pollo to a daring Roquefort cheese and celery. While most panaderias sell empanadas, the best places to grab a good quality empanada or a hunky slice of pizza that will be overflowing with melted cheese, are the ever-famous pizza parlours – you can’t miss La Rey, La Continental and Kentucky, all found in the microcentro. As far as breakfast is concerned, let’s not leave out the unforgettable facturas – extremely sweet croissant and Danish pastry type breads that are the only way to enjoy an authentic Argentinian breakfast. Fancy something sweet in the afternoon, but had your fair share of facturas? Take a trip to your nearest Havana café for a typical alfajor – an extra thick biscuit with layers of dulce de leche (caramel) and chocolate. If you’re feeling a little poor, supermarkets such as “Carrefour” sell slightly not-so-good ones at a much lower price.
When it comes to drinking, wine is the way to go, and more specifically, experiencing Malbec. The Malbec grape variety is cultivated in the northern city of Mendoza, in the heart of Argentina’s wine country. It’s needless to say that Argentineans are proud of their Malbec. If wine’s not your thing, you could go for a Fernet – an Italian alcoholic drink that is, in a way, similar to our marmite – you’ll either love it or hate it. Unfortunately, if you aren’t into your alcoholic drinks, you’ll be stuck with some bog-standard carton juices, basic “gaseosas” or slightly odd tasting tap water. Breakfast can be enjoyed with a powerful cortado (espresso). At some point you are bound to wonder why everyone walks around with little pots with metal straws in them, sucking away on their way to work, in the streets and in the cafés. Maté is the answer – a very strong herbal tea, maybe too strong for those who are used to an English breakfast! Lastly, don’t be shocked if someone asks you if you want to try some of their maté – its common practice and courtesy to share maté, even with complete strangers, if the moment is right!
Well, you might not find many Vietnamese, Lebanese and Ghanaian restaurants in Buenos Aires, as you may do in London, but their steaks, wines and empanadas are unbeatable and I think most would agree that Baires is well worth a place on your bucket list. !Qué aproveche!