What We Really Eat For A Week In Argentina

Posted on May 4, 2015 by Sharon Salt in CULINARY ANTHROPOLOGY

Buenos Aires Food Journal

Three Days of What’s On Our Table & In Our Stomachs

By Sharon Salt

 Sometimes, people are curious about what Argentines actually eat. I never know how to answer. I suppose there are only two courses of action, anyway: a) gross generalizations, and b) speaking for myself and myself only. 

You can find the generalizations everywhere online — asado all day every day! child-like aversions to all things green! — but a glimpse into a real person’s eating habits are harder to come by. So, for the nosy, here is a three-day food journal.

For the record, I am a writer from the States. My partner is a student from Argentina. We do not have a lot of money, and we also don’t cook so well. If you think the following pictures are going to be legit food porn, you have been warned: the following pictures are not legit food porn.

Probably the most representative take-away from this collection of pictures is the scarcity of vegetables — not because nobody in the history of Argentina has ever sliced and diced a nice zucchini, as you might have been led to believe, but because yes, this one particular Argentine, my partner, has willingly eaten salad but a few times, and only ever to humor me. 

These pictures began as a photography project, because we figured that by combining two hobbies — one of which we enjoy (photography) and one of which we find daunting (cooking) — we would be inspired to make more of our own food. It worked! I choose what I felt where the three most representative days of our eating habits.

Without further ado, for your consideration:

 

DAY ONE

 I made biscotti. We hardly ever have breakfast-with-a-capital-B, but we always have coffee.

Which means we get hungry. So we make more coffee and sometimes I try to eat something like an adult. Here I put Finlandia — this typical Argentine cheese spread — on some bread and added prunes and walnuts and honey.

Then, for dinner, of course pasta! We really went out all for this one. I think there may even be vegetables in there, hidden under the copious amounts of cheese.

 

DAY TWO

Buttered bread and coffee. That we even sit down for some semblance of breakfast is not very Argentine of us.

 This is what my partner and I call a Poor Man’s Picada. You can order picadas at a lot of bars and restaurants with pretty pickled things and nice cold cuts, but here we have: poorly cut cheese, Saladix crackers, palitos, and crispy-covered peanuts, all of which are kiosco staples. And of course beer. In the afternoon. It was a Friday.

Hey guess what everybody? More pasta for dinner.

 

DAY THREE

A slightly fancier breakfast, which really just means that I took the time to buy a budin and some orange juice, and we ate what was left of our grapes.

Another improvised meal — lentils, red peppers and cheesy little tacos, I guess?  Sometimes the way I cook makes me still feel like a college student.

And we then we treated ourselves to take-out sushi for dinner because we were going out and didn’t have time to busy ourselves with such nonsense. Please note that at least twelve of the pieces here feature cream cheese. Argentina, you’re killing me! And the worst part seems to be I’ve developed a taste for it — ugh.

What about you guys?  Are you asado all day every day?  If so, let us know how your digestive system manages to run on meat alone, please and thank you. 

3 Comments

  1. My tips for eating well as a very poor person.

    One word, plural: Beans. Stews, soups, guisos.

    Lentils used to be my go-to meal-in-one but now they’re priced within reach of black beans, which I prefer.

    So I’ve been buying garbanzos, the cheapest protein in Argentina, and making a kind of thick stew with tomatoes, eggplant and lots and lots of garlic. Reduced down it makes a kickass vegetarian sloppy joe. Add a little carne molida comun and it’s a weird sort of sloppy joe. Make cold salads with garbanzos, too.

    But really the key to making satisfying meals is strong, deep flavors — spices and condiments, used strategically and judiciously. Olive oil. Soy sauce cremosa. Buy super-cheap cuts of pork and chicken to make stock or add to stews and soups. Splurge on miso, add a little to rice (which I don’t like much, except for out-of-reach basmati) and becomes magical, and of course to soups and stews. Buy a kilo of hot peppers and freeze them. Chop while still frozen and toss them into anything for some welcome heat.

    Finally: sriracha. It’s expensive but it lasts a while and makes everything taste soooo much better. Also, learn to make your own tortillas since they are now ghastly expensive.

    Also: super-cheap polenta makes a great breakfast dish lathered with butter (yes, you should splurge on butter) and crisscrossed with sriracha. top with an egg or two sunny-side-up. Actually I eat that any time of day.

    PS. Cheese isn’t cheap! It’s more expensive per kilo than a lot of meats.

    That is all.

  2. A typical week back at home in Buenos Aires would be something like this: on weekdays brown rice (yamani)+tuna+tomato salad, chicken or veal milanesa (napolitana or with salad (tomato and lettuce or just whole tomato halved with oil, oregano, salt and pepper). Tartas are a good one, you make it the night before for dinner and then have leftovers for lunch; ham and cheese, tuna stirfried with onions, garlic and red pepper. Another classic is a steak (not for me, I don’t enjoy meaty meat lol). Pasta can be an option, a lazy one with a can of ready-made sauce, I used to love La Colina Pomarola or Pizza. If not, make from scratch.
    Ah, for breakfast cafe con leche and toast and butter for me. Very rarely, croissants and churros on a Sunday morning. I never get up early enough to catch the good ones at my bakery, though!

    On weekends, a Saturday night classic would be buying pre-pizza from the casa de pastas and choosing our own toppings or from La Mezzetta or Catanzaro. And icecream for dessert, of course. Or picada, but these days it’s too expensive to make dinner out of just picada snacks, cheeses, bread and meats.

    Sunday’s lunch is either pasta (could include meat / estofado) or some sort of stew/stirfry with meat / chicken and vegs with rice or mashed potatoes and leftovers of that lunch to be had for dinner.
    Now, if you had a parrilla, your Sunday would probably include more asados, of course.

    Man…I miss Buenos Aires!

  3. Hola!
    I often read this blog, and compare life in Argentina with life here in Peru. There is certainly much more vegetables and fruits on the menu here, which I noticed was not the case in Argentina -although Peruvians, too, like a good asado every now and then, and in Lima we eat lots of fish and seafood.

    It’s also funny to see that in Argentina there is a cream cheese called Finlandia -I’m from Finland and can’t see how it’s related to my country? White as snow, perhaps? 🙂

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