Food — Part II: Traditional/Typical Foods

An alfajor

Here is a run-down of the most traditional and typical foods and drinks of Buenos Aires:

Food:

Pizza: Pizza is actually perhaps more common in Buenos Aires than in the U.S. Most restaurants will offer pizza, and pizza-only eateries are very common as well. I’ve seen pretty much every style of pizza here — thin crust, thick crust, deep dish — as well as many different varieties, though the most common is mozzarella. Generally, there is very little tomato sauce (“salsa”) on the pizza, and it is always eaten with a fork and knife.

Empanadas: Empanadas are another very common food, and are offered in nearly every café, restaurant, and corner store. They are pretty cheap, and the most common types are beef, tuna, ham and cheese, and vegetables.

Carne Asado (Beef): Argentina is famous for its beef, which, based on the one time I’ve tried it so far, has a lot of fat and salt in it (though there’s a lot of salt in everything here).

Medialunas (Croissants): These are part of a normal breakfast, but can also be eaten at lunch, or as a snack. Typically filled with ham and cheese, they can be purchased pretty much everywhere.

Sandwiches de Miga: This lunch food is a layered sandwich of ham and cheese made with very thin, light bread without the crust.

Drinks:

Café con leche (Coffee with milk): Consumed pretty much anytime throughout the day or night, coffee here is served in very small teacups, as it is generally much stronger than in the U.S. Porteños love to add milk and sugar to their coffee, which can also come enhanced with chocolate, cream, ice cream, alcohol — or pretty much anything else you would find in American coffee.

Mate té: This is a very traditional drink in Argentina, and has a deep cultural history. Basically, the particular manner in which the tea is served and consumed can signify various things about the relationships between the people drinking it. The tea is served loose (although it can also be purchased in bag form), and the leaves are spooned into a special mate cup. After pouring hot water in and allowing the tea to brew, a special straw is then used to drink it. It’s very common to see porteños in parks or even just on the street carrying around thermoses of hot water and sipping mate. The special cups and straws come in all different designs and colors, and are one of the most common items in markets and touristy stores.

Submarino: This is the Argentine version of hot chocolate. If you order a submarino in a restaurant, they will bring you a mug of hot milk with a wrapped chocolate bar (normal, milk chocolate) on the side, to be broken up and dissolved in the milk. It’s quite delicious, though I wouldn’t mind if they gave you two chocolate bars instead of one!

Vino (Wine): Argentina is famous for its wine, which is mainly produced in the province of Mendoza; Malbec is a well-known and standard wine here.

Quilmes: A common beer in Argentina.

Fernet: More akin to hard liquor than wine or beer, Fernet is apparently very bitter and thus usually consumed as part of a mixed drink.

Dessert:

Dulce de Leche: This thick, creamy, rich sauce is made of carmelized milk, sugar, and vanilla flavoring, and is put in everything from desserts to coffee to ice cream.

Alfajor: Pictured above, these can be found packaged in corner stores, or in any panadería (bakery). Basically, it’s like an oreo, but made with chocolate cake on the top and bottom and dulce de leche, sometimes as well as other yummy things, in the middle.

Ice cream: It’s pretty much the same deal as in the U.S., except that people in Buenos Aires eat it all the time — even in the winter when they’re complaining of a “polar wave” of freezing temperatures.

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