Food — Part 1: General Customs

Above: goat meat covered with egg and bacon, along with potato balls, olives, and a side salad — my friend’s lunch in Colonia, Uruguay (this would also be typical of Argentina). Photo cred: Alex Houck

Food is such a huge part of life in Argentina — indeed in any culture or country — and the customs here are pretty different from those back in the States. In order to cover everything, I’ve decided to split the topic up into a series of posts, starting with basic customs.

A typical breakfast here is small, and includes a few medialunas (croissants) and café con leche (coffee with milk). However, as I am not the first American my family here has hosted, they thankfully understand that us estadounidenses are used to a more substantial meal in the morning, and they provide me with fruit, rolls and condiments, yogurt, cereal, and, of course, café con leche.

Lunch, usually eaten around mid-day, can include anything from pizza to empanadas to other relatively large courses, and is often supplemented by more café con leche or sweets from a panadería (bakery). As lunch is not provided by my host family, and I’m usually busy with my class and internship, I forego this usual lunch for a self-made sandwich and a piece of fruit.

Dinner is the main meal, and can start anytime from 8pm to 11pm, though it’s usually on the later end of the spectrum. Meat, most often beef — for which Argentina is famous — is a central part of the meal, and is accompanied by a portion of starch and vegetables. However, the family I’m living with seems to eat healthier than the average porteños, so I’m guessing we have comparatively less red meat and more vegetables (no complaints there!).

Dessert seems to be more common as a mid-day snack than as a post-dinner course, and is famously characterized by some manifestation of dulce-de-leche — a rich, creamy, sweet caramelized milk that is infused into everything from ice cream to cookies.

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