Welcome to my new A-Z where I will be looking at the countries of the world, their food and national dish or their most popular dish around the world…by this I mean some dishes are eaten in many countries as their fame has spread around the world…I have Chel to thank for giving me some ideas from which this one took shape…Thank you Chel x
Argentina is a vast country located in the southern part of South America. The eighth-largest country in the world, it is the second-largest country in South America after Brazil, and it’s about one-third the size of the United States. Argentina is bordered by the Andes Mountains and Chile to the west.
When I first think of Argentina I think of vast plains, baggy trousered cowboys, huge BBQs of meat for which they are famous…Dulce Le Leche that delicious caramel…
I think of wandering down the streets and just seeing sights like this…lovely BBQed meat…The National dish is “Asadas” which is a variety of BBQ meats grilled on a Parillo (large grill)..this would include steak, ribs, chorizo, molllejas(sweetbreads), chinchulines(chitterlings) plus morcilla( blood sausage)…Empanadas..stuffed pastries filled with either meat, corn, vegetables, tuna or cheese.
Yerba Mate…A traditional Argentian drink…an infusion “mate” is made by steeping the dry leaves and twigs from Yerba Mate which is a species of holly…in boiling water. This is then poured into a guampa(gourd) and drank through a metal straw the taste is said to be similar to green tea.
The country is divided into four regions: The Andes, the North, the Pampas, and Patagonia. The Pampas is the agricultural heartland.
Since the Inca Civilization people living in the Andes have based their diet on potatoes, maize and meat. Soups and stews are among the most popular dishes. Everything goes into it including meat, many kinds of potatoes, maize, carrots, local spices and hot peppers. They are cooked for hours because of the lower oxygen at high altitudes…
Pachamanca is a cooking method that has been used in the Andes for centuries and it is still very popular all over the Andean region. Placed underground on a bed of hot stones seasoned meat, herbs and vegetables are slowly cooked for many hours. Because it takes a long time to cook it is usually a special treat and mainly cooked during celebrations.
The Guinea Pig has long been part of The Andean diet…Although this is not in English it is quite easy to follow and recognise the ingredients.
It is also interesting and I know for a fact from living here that not everyone cooks in a modern kitchen but they still serve up delicious food.
Argentina …The North.
Tamales are a traditional Mesoamerican dish that’s popular in the cuisines of many countries throughout Latin America. In Argentina, a version known as tamales salteños is popular in the northwest region of the country, mainly in Salta, Jujuy, and Tucumán.
This dish of cornmeal dough shell filled with various ingredients (eg chopped beef, pork, sweet filling) then steamed in corn husks or in banana leaves…is delicious and popular around the world…
Then we have empanadas… the most common empanada is filled with beef, but some are filled with quinoa, humita, rabbit, or goat.
For spice lovers, many northern empanadas are served with homemade hot sauce and are often fried instead of baked. Maybe not the best for our cholesterol levels, but oh so delicious…
Cazuela de cabrito, baby goat casserole is a very popular dish found on almost every menu…slow-cooked for hours in a pot or a brick oven…it is said to be very delicious…
Since the beginning of the 20th century, agriculture is the primary economic activity in the Pampas. … Parts of the Pampas are noted for their vineyards, especially in the region of Mendoza, which alone produces half the wines of entire South America.
The Pampas are referred to as the granary of South America as they provide the bulk of the world’s export of wheat.
Best known for being the home of the gauchos, Argentina’s famous baggy-trousered cowboys, the pampa stretches south and west from Buenos Aires. It’s a region of endless yawning plains, the fertile soils of which support succulent pasture for the country’s revered beef cattle, along with golden wheat and sunflowers.
The food…for me always conjures up images of huge BBQ’S, decadent deserts, dreamy pasta and beef cooked the old way…
The Sandwich and of course it’s big and hearty…Bondipan (or bondiola) is a classic sandwich originating from Argentine. Similar to the more famous choripan, this sandwich is made with bondiola de cerdo, pork shoulder that’s roasted or grilled to perfection and served in crusty french bread
The succulent and salty pork is drizzled with lemon juice and often topped with chimichurri. If desired, a bit of chilli sauce can also be added to the sandwich. The sandwich is typically sold as street food, and people usually enjoy it while standing by the bar.
- Half a cup of Olive Oil
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
- 3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or minced
- 2 small red chillies, or 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon finely chopped chilli)
- 3/4 tsp dried oregano
- 1 level tsp coarse salt
- pepper , to taste (about 1/2 tsp)
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl…Allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes to release all the flavours before using. Ideally, I let it sit for at least 2 hrs…Chimichurri can be refrigerated for up to 24 hrs.
Many recipes use a food processor to make sauces like this I much prefer to chop by hand as I find a coarser sauce is far nicer but it is down to personal choice…
Chimichurri can be used to baste meats while grilling or barbequing ..traditionally these sauces are used to baste food …
Pasta…creamy and opulent...this stuffed pasta variety is believed to have been invented in Argentina. Called Sorrentinos they are round and large and come with a variety of fillings such as different types of grated cheese, ricotta, ham, vegetables, or nuts.
Bread…Fainá is a unique flatbread made with chickpea flour, black pepper, and lots of fresh herbs. It is extremely popular throughout Argentina and Uruguay.
There is of course what it’s most famous for …” The Beef”…This authentic gaucho dish, Asado con Cuero consists of beef with its hide still attached, grilled over an open fire. This is a very old, traditional way of preparing beef that dates back to the Argentine gauchos, who roasted their beef long and slow on an asador, a type of metal structure, over low fire, and used quebracho wood, which is still used today as it lends a unique flavour to the meat.
Large chunks of beef are first salted and then soaked overnight in a marinade made with ground chilis, pepper, cumin, chopped parsley, wine, vinegar, and oil. The following morning, the marinated beef chunks are grilled with their hide side up, over low fire for about 8 to 10 hours, or more if necessary.
Desserts…think a luscious combination of sponge cake, whipped cream, almond paste, dulce de leche, meringue, walnuts, and candied chestnuts, while the top is dusted with powdered sugar and coconut…Then we have “Dulce le Leche” …sigh…I am known as the queen of burnt dishes and yet nothing good comes out of it like Dulce le Leche…
This is a type of condensed milk sweet from Argentina. Traditionally, it is made by heating sweetened cow’s milk until it caramelizes and achieves a thick consistency, enough to act as a spread, a filling for cakes and pies, or an ice cream topping.
It is said that dulce de leche originated in Buenos Aires when a serving woman was preparing la lechada by heating sugar and milk. As she left it on the fire a bit longer than usual, she noticed it had become a dark brown substance, and that’s how dulce de leche was born.
Patagonia…Patagonia is a region encompassing the vast southernmost tip of South America, shared by Argentina and Chile, with the Andes Mountains as its dividing line. The Argentine side features arid steppes, grasslands and deserts…Argentina’s famed RN-40 highway passes the pinnacles of Monte Fitz Roy and Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park.
With magnificent landscapes and fascinating flora & fauna. But these are not the only noticeable characteristics of Patagonia; there is a whole other world which is the world of the region’s remarkable Patagonia food and drinks.
Patagonia’s most famous dish, The ‘Cordero al Palo’ dish is a Spit Roast Lamb cooked over an open log fire for several hours until the outside is crisp and the meat falls off the bone. Cooking it in this way gives way to a smoky-perfumed, mouth-watering dish that rivals food coming from the finest of restaurants…can you imagine just sitting in a little roadside BBQ place just relaxing and taking in the glorious scenery and smelling that wonderful lamb cooking on the BBQ…
But Argentina is not only famed for its meat dishes… this Patagonian King Crab ‘Chupe’, a traditional Chilean dish in which seafood is cooked in a stew with breadcrumbs to make a thick, creamy dish, similar to a chowder. It is usually topped with gratinated cheese that brings out the crab’s rich flavour…sounds just delicious…
But of course not forgetting the Empanadas which are eaten throughout all the regions of Argentina…In Patagonia, locals have added their own touch to this traditional snack, by filling the baked dough with a very thick roasted lamb stew, instead of the usual ‘Pino’ meat or cheese.
Sadly the “Chaco Prickly Pear” like white carob, chanar and Mistal Trees…are under threat or are disappearing…Native to north-central Argentina, mistol (Ziziphus mistol) is a spiny, fruit-bearing tree that has small flowers and reddish-brown, drupe-like fruits. Distinguished by a sweet, pasty flesh, the fruit is often consumed fresh, although it can also be boiled, sundried (pasa de mistol), or transformed into arrope (a homemade sweet) or patay (a paste used in numerous Argentine specialities). Bolanchao is a type of candy made with mistol fruit that is typical of Santiago del Estero, while this plant can also be used for making mistol liquor or a mistol infusion with healing properties.
The people of the indigenous Toba community often consume a combination of mistol juice and Algarrobo flour or tusca tree flour. Other parts of this tree have also been commonly used by the indigenous people, including the tree’s roots and bark… gathered, processed and prepared traditionally then made into traditional specialities such as flour, bread, sweets and beverages and that have been strongly interwoven with the lives and cultures of indigenous peoples and many of these practices date back to pre-Columbian times are disappearing due to many factors including globalisation, deforestation, habitat loss and import of foreign goods such as sugar and wheat flour…
It makes me sad that indigenous peoples property and lifestyle doesn’t seem to matter and yet they have such knowledge of how the land works that it is a travesty in my eyes that their traditions and land husbandry skills are not preserved and practised…the ecosystems are dependent around the world on the wealth of knowledge indigenous people have and to me, they are essential to our survival.
I hope you have enjoyed this first post of my A- Z of “World Cuisines” as much as I have enjoyed the research and the learning…it is no surprise that Argentina has the highest meat consumption in the world…plus they are one of the major producers of fruit and vegetables in the world…I have learnt much about the food and diversity in Argentina but I will continue to grow or buy local as buying from there when you are halfway across the world is not being aware of the environmental footprint plus the cost to indigenous populations, animals and plant life…
Thank you for reading I look forward to your comments as always xx