5 Favorite Things that I Love about Food in Buenos Aires
Article by Vivi Rathbone.
I often focus too much on the negative in Buenos Aires. While it is a truly unique city, it hasn’t captured my heart the way other cities, like Athens, Rome and Seattle have. Sure, it may not be my paradise, but there are things here that I absolutely adore. I would like to dedicate more posts to the wonderful things that I LOVE about B.A. Here is a start.
Five Favorite Foodie Delights of Buenos Aires
5. No Guilt Carbohydrates – Take THAT Dr Atkins!
Maybe Argentina has a reputation for the meat, but hiding behind that international reputation is the lesser known, better half of the Argentine diet – carbohydrates. Long ago demonized in the United States for their uncanny ability to widen waistlines, carbohydrate consumption in Buenos Aires seemed almost pornographic to me. Sweet pastries for breakfast? A meal consisting of white starchy pasta accompanied by a bread basket? Breaded meat served with rice, or starchy potatoes and …more bread? The most amazing phenomenon for me, was that this never seemed to be a problem. No one casts eyes of judgement to someone simply eating a huge hunk of bread for no reason. Bakeries occupy every block of the city, where you can buy fresh baked baguettes, croissants, rolls, biscuits, muffins, focaccias, and NO, none of them whole wheat!
I used to feel guilty, but it is safe to say I have fully embraced my inner carbo-loader.
Provoleta. Read: Grilled Cheese. Not just any cheese, but a thick slice of provolone, sprinkled with seasonings and grilled on the parilla until the outside is perfectly toasted and crispy, and the inside has melted into a gooey perfection like only cheese can do. You CANNOT come to Buenos Aires without trying this once. And once will probably be enough.
3. My Peruvian Verduleria Vendor
I love my verduleria – aka fruit stand. I try to do all my shopping there. I love it not only for the healthy, fresh and delicious fruits and vegetables that it provides for me, but also for the nice Peruvian family that runs it. A trip to the verduleria is like a trip to a friend’s house. A friend who has a lot of fruit. My verduleria friend knows a lot about me from what I buy. She knows that I always purchase bananas, but won’t eat apples without peanut butter. She knows I always buy zapallos when I can find them and that I love licuados. Her toddler runs around the fruit stand, charming customers and exhausting his parents. This unique shopping experience has become my favorite of pastimes.
2. The Smell of Medialunas in the Morning
While popular opinion states that the best time in Buenos Aires is midnight or later, my favorite time is around 7:30am. The city is almost empty, and the sun is low and the city glows. Soft breezes spread the most magical, tantalizing scent throughout the city – the sweet fragrance of freshly baked croissants. The soft, warm smell tickles your nose and teases you with temptation. Surely there is no joy on earth that can parallel croissants fresh from the oven.
Argentines have their own version of croissants, called medialunas, or half moons. The size is smaller (irrelevant, since it is impossible to eat less than 3 of them) and they are a bit more dense than their flaky french predecessor. They come in different varieties including:
- Sweet – which are glazed with some sweet sticky substance.
- Manteca – made from butter
- Grasa – made from fat or oil, usually denser
- Relleno – stuffed with dulce de leche. Beware.
1. The Best Ice Cream in the Entire World – Delivered to My Doorstep
The spoiled grass fed cows give joy to Argentina not only with their tender beef, but with their creamy, frothy milk. Dairy farmers must live like Kings in this country, where my super market’s yogurt aisle is longer than the produce section. With the strong Italian immigration, it is no surprise that the Argentines know how to do ice cream, and they know how to do it well.
Pure creamy, melty, perfectly crafted ice cream aside, lets talk flavors. While plain vanilla would still probably be the best ice cream most people have ever tasted, Argentines have come up with some pretty extreme flavors: chief among them: Sambayon. Sambayon, which is actually its own dessert, not just an ice cream flavor combines the texture of a whipped eggy custard with subtle hints of Marsala wine. No, this ice cream isn’t for kids. This is serious.
Now, I know, this is probably the most cruel thing you have ever read, to know that such perfection exists, but only in the Southern Hemisphere, but keep your tissue, it is about to get worse. You can get this ice cream delivered. To your house. Any time day or night. Hallelujah.
The thought of ever having to eat common freezer ice cream again almost brings me to tears.