The cuisine of Argentina is distinctive in South America because of its strong resemblance to Italian, Spanish, French and other European cuisines rather than the other Latin American cuisines. This is due to the huge amount of immigrants from those countries. However, due to the large ranch and cowboy lifestyle that dominated Argentina historically, beef and other hearty foods play a major role in the diets of Argentines.
At most common restaurants and homes you will find most enjoy pizza, pasta, grilled meats, stews, and stuffed pastries. Empanadas, either fried or baked, are pastries filled with meats, cheeses, and vegetables. These are often served as an appetizer at a restaurant or ordered in large quantities for parties or small gatherings.
Milanesas, thin slices of beef or chicken that are breaded and fried are another popular dish.
Milanesa with chips and fried eggs
Argentina is known throughout the world for their lean beef. The most popular method of serving it is as an asado (barbecue). Many different cuts of beef and organs are cooked over medium heat charcoal fires that results in tender juicy meat on the inside while crunchy on the outside. Chorizo (pork sausage), morcilla (blood sausage), chinchulines (chitterlings), mollejas (sweetbread), and other parts of the animal are enjoyed.
In Patagonia, lamb and chivito â€” goat â€” are eaten more than beef. Whole lambs and goats can be seen on the asado.
Chimichurri sauce, a mixture of parsley, peppers, onion, oregano, tomato, garlic, laurel, oil, vinegar, and red wine, is the popular condiment of choice for placing on grilled meats served at the table.
The Northwest region which includes the provinces of Jujuy, Salta, Catamarca, and TucumÃ¡n shows more influence from its prehispanic cultures in the Andes Mountains than in the rest of the country; in fact the historical centers of the provinces of this region are located in Andean areas, with the exception of TucumÃ¡n, Santiago del Estero. Although, still the primary influence is by European foods.
A typical dish of the region (and available throughout the country) is a type of succulent stew prepared mostly with corn grains: el locro.
On the other hand, in this area the preparation of tamales and humitas in corn husks is common.
Other culinary specialties of this region are almond paste called mazapÃ¡n (marzipan) (I really love this!), dried peaches, maize cake, pork stew with corn, steak, cheap stew, meat stew and eggs quimbos; as well as potato cake.
Another typical food from Argentina are Sandwiches de miga , delicate sandwiches made with crustless buttered white bread, very thinly sliced ham and cheese or lettuce, tomato, etc. They are often purchased from bakeries.
Sandwiches de miga
Argentinean cooking is, on the whole, less fiery than that of its South American neighbours, with sweet peppers, tomatoes, herbs and onions being widely used as flavourings rather than chilies. There are some regional differences. For example, the cuisine in the north has a middle eastern spiciness to it whilst in the south especially along the costal regions, seafood and fish are often cooked European style with garlic, olive oil, herbs and white wine as the main flavourings.
Sweet foods from Argentina
A sweet paste, dulce de leche, is another national obsession, used to fill cakes and pancakes or as an ice cream flavour. Alfajores are shortbread cookies sandwiched together with dulce de leche or a fruit paste. Dulce de batata is made of sweet potato/yam.
The most famous sweet from Argentina is, doubtless, dulce de leche. You can buy Dulce de Leche in Spanish grocer or some of the larger supermarkets sell it by the condensed milk, if not, here it is a recipe for the Dulce de Leche: Pour the two cans of condensed milk into a double boiler set over low heat. Cook milk, stirring once in a while, for 2-4 hours, until mixture thickens and becomes caramel-like. Remove from double boiler and refrigerate until needed. Mixture will firm with chilling.
Dulce de leche
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The most important wine regions of the country are located in the provinces of Mendoza and San Juan (Cuyo region), and La Rioja. Salta, Catamarca and RÃo Negro are also wine producing regions. The Mendoza Province produces more than 60% of the Argentine wine and is the source of an even higher percentage of the total exports
Many Argentinien wines have won worldwide acclaim.
There are many different varieties of grapes cultivated in Argentina, reflecting her many immigrant groups. The French brought Auxerrois, which became known as Malbec, which makes most of Argentina’s best known wines. The Italians brought vines that they called Bonarda, although Argentine Bonarda appears to be the Corbeau of Savoie, also known as Charbono in California, which may be related to Dolcetto. It has nothing in common with the light fruity wines made from Bonarda Piemontese in Piedmont.
Among the wines one must mention at least one that is exclusively Argentine: torrontÃ©s, a fragrant white wine with a fruity flavor, produced in the CalchaquÃes Valleys. Among vintners producing torrontÃ©s, the most famous is Cafayate.
TorrontÃ©s is a member of the Malvasia group that makes aromatic white wines. It has recently been grown in Spain. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay and other international favourites are becoming more widely planted, but some varieties are cultivated characteristically in certain areas.
However, the great majority of Argentines prefer French-style wines (including sparkling wines like champagne). This taste is found in the higher economic strata, where the purchasing power is greatest, and as a consequence, native, Italian, and Spanish wines all play second fiddle to French wines in Argentina.
Of the Italian-style wines produced in Argentina, the most outstanding imitate the Chianti; of those in the Spanish style, the best-known are called carlÃ³n.
In the north, as well as in Tarija, liquors (aguardientes) are made from grapes or distilled from wine, such as singani, or others similar to Chilean pisco.
Popular short-order dishes in Argentina
Common restoranes or restaurantes nearly anywhere in Argentina today serve (into the small hours) quickly prepared meals that in the course of the 20th century came to be known as minutas [“short-order dishes”]. Some of the dishes included in the category of minutas are milanesas, churrascos, bifes, escalopes, tallarines, ravioles, Ã±oquis, although some are very typical of locations that sell food: “bifes a caballo” (beef steak with two fried eggs), “milanesa a caballo”, “milanesa completa” (a milanesa with two fried eggs and a garnish of fries), “revuelto Gramajo”, “colchÃ³n de arvejas”, “suprema de pollo” (a kind of chicken milanesa), matambres, “lengua a la vinagreta” and “sandwiches”.
The variety of “sandwiches” are nearly infinite. The most common are those made of milanesa, baked ham and cheese, pan de miga, toasted bread, pebetes, panchos, choripanes, morcipanes, etc.; from Montevideo comes a different species of sandwich called the chivito, even though it contains no goat meat.
It is worth mentioning picadas, which are consumed in homes or bars, cafÃ©s, “cafetines” and “bodegones”; they consist of an ensemble of plates containing cubes of cheese (typically from Mar del Plata or Chubut), pieces of salame, olives in brine, french fries, manÃes (peanuts), etc.; Picadas are eaten accompanied by an alcoholic beverage (“fernet”, beer, wine with soda, to give some common examples).
To conclude, it should be noted that the people of Argentina greatly enjoy helado (ice cream, sorbet, etc.), especially the Italian kind. This fondness is not new: from the time of the Spanish colonies there has existed a type of sorbet made from fallen hail or snow. (This has been documented; desserts were made with snow in Mendoza at the beginning of the 19th century).