Monday, 23 July 2012

Food, Glorious Food!

Anyone who knows me knows that my life revolves around food.  Yes, my family is most important, but after that, life revolves around food.  I've made the adjustment to Argentinian style dining, but it hasn't been easy.

Mealtimes are not the same as in North America.  Breakfast at our hotel is served from 7 to 10 am on weekdays, and from 8 - 11 pm on weekends.  John has to delay the start of his workday if he wants to be able to have breakfast before he leaves for work; normally he would be at work before 7 am.  Lunchtime is around 1:30 or 2 pm.  There are lots of great cafes for lunch, or sometimes I just grab an empanada from a stand in one of the pedestrian malls.

John and I had lunch at La Fontaine, an outdoor cafe featuring works by local artists, and the ubiquitous stray dogs.

Dinnertime.........well, you've got a long wait til dinnertime my friends.  Restaurants in Buenos Aires and in Cordoba don't open for dinner until at least 8 pm and often not until 8:30 or 9 pm.  And since Argentina is famous for slow service, by the time you are seated, have some bread and some wine, you might not be eating around 10 pm. Then you wait for your bill and by the time you walk back home, it's bedtime.  We usually get to the restaurants shortly after they open, and within half an hour they are always packed with local families as well as tourists and business people.

Portions here are enormous and no one has heard of doggy bags, so John and I will often split a salad and an entree.  Or we each order our meat entree, and then split a side of vegetables. Meat courses come with just meat, and then you order whatever side dishes you want such as potatoes and veg. I've been keeping my eyes open for vegetarian options so that we have a selection of nice places to eat when Madison and Shelbe come to visit in the fall.  Food here tends to be on the bland side, and any ethnic dishes tend to be blander than they would be at home to cater to Argentinian palates.

John's steak at Alcorta.  Back home, we might call this a roast and serve it to a family.

BBQ places (parilla) are very popular with a variety of meats cooked over wood coals. 

Dulce de Leche is super popular in Argentina.  To paraphrase the old lady in the Frank's Red Hot commercial, "They put that sh*t on everything!"  For those of you who aren't familiar with Dulce de Leche, it's made by slowly heating sweetened milk until it's like a caramel sauce.  The literal translation is Sweet of Milk, and we've seen it listed that way on some menus that were translated into English.  You can find it in any kind of dessert including dulce de leche flavoured ice cream.  You can buy it by the jar, or in big tubs, at any grocery store. On the breakfast buffet, dulce de leche is available to spread on your toast, and the English translation is "Milk Jam." 

The English version of the Dessert Menu at Da Minga, in Buenos Aires. It's wonderful that they have English menus, but not everything translates.  Some items for dessert include Lemon Foot; Pears to the Burgundy or the Mist; and Pancake of Sweet of Milk, which is probably a crepe with dulce de leche. 

We had the Apple Tarantella, which turned out to be like cheesecake with cooked apple slices on top, covered with dulce de leche.  Delicious! 

The odd thing is that even though the locals seem to subsist on a diet of white carbs (facturas, medalunnas, chirrillos, etc), red meat, red wine and late meals, the obesity rate of 18 % in Argentina is lower than Canada (24%) and the United States (34%).  How is that possible?

Because the economy in Argentina is not very strong right now, we get a great exchange rate for our dollar, which makes eating in restaurants here very reasonable. And wine is dangerously inexpensive - about 40 to 50 pesos for a nice bottle of wine with dinner, which is about $10 Canadian.  In the grocery stores, if you buy food that has been grown and processed in Argentina, it is very cheap. If you buy something that has been imported from any other country, it is usually very expensive.  For example, I saw a tiny little container of blueberries, wilted and shrivelled that had been imported and they were 22 pesos ($5 Canadian).  For the same amount of money, I could by a mountain of local produce.

We are really looking forward to moving into the apartment on Tuesday.  We'll have a full kitchen with a big fridge and a gas stove with an oven so we can start eating some meals at home.  We had a tiny kitchen in our BA apartment with just two electric burners and a bar fridge, but even then we were able to eat some meals that we had prepared ourselves.  I'll miss the breakfast buffet each morning, but it will be nice to eat what we want and when we want. 

'Home cooking' in Buenos Aires


  1. The steak at the Alcorta was not only huge but delicious and tender. They take a long time to serve but it was a perfect medium rare. Lisa helped me quite a bit and we didn't finish.

    1. Yes, it's true. Even the two of us couldn't finish it!


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