Authored by Rosemary and Claire of Authentic Food Quest
When it comes to Argentinian food, your first thought may be of succulent steaks accompanied by full-bodied Malbec wines. But what if you’re not one of those steak lovers? Or if red wine is not your go to drink?
Rest reassured, there is more to Argentinian cuisine than beef and Malbec wines!
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The European Influence
Argentina’s cuisine has been largely influenced by European immigrants from Spain and Italy. Thick-crusted pizza and homemade pasta are the culinary legacy of Italian immigrants. The Spainish brought empanadas, which typically are filled with beef or chicken but also can be made with veggies and cheese.
One example of an authentic Argentine classic inspired by Italian immigrants is the Milanesa. Crispy and savory, milanesa is a thin cut of protein usually beef, dipped in eggs, covered with breadcrumbs, and then fried in oil. Milanesa is normally served with a plate of fries, mashed potatoes, or salad.
But wait! Can you really stay away from beef? The good news is, you can. You will find specialties like milanesa made with chicken, veal, codfish, and even vegetarian options such as soy and quinoa. Find the variety that best suits your mood and indulge!
Local and Regional Influence
Outside of Buenos Aires, cuisine becomes much more local and regional. For example, in the Andean Northwest, the food is heavily influenced by indigenous communities. Here you can enjoy dishes made with local produce such as quinoa and papas andinas (Andean potatoes).
One of the most surprising is the hundreds of varieties of papas andinas. From round and green native potatoes to tri-colored red, yellow and purple ones, you can explore a wide range of flavors and tastes.
In Patagonia and the Lake Regions, you will be surprised by the delicious fish and seafood. Tempt yourself with centolla (southern king crab) in Ushuaia. Alternatively, taste the freshest trucha (trout) from the great lakes of Bariloche.
Beyond Malbec, The High Altitude Wines of Cafayate
While Malbec wines may take the fame, few know about the emblematic white wine of Argentina called Torrontés. This grape grows nowhere else in the world, but in Argentina.
The vineyards in Cafayate, located in the province of Salta, are the highest vineyards in the world. Growing at 1750 meters above sea level, Torrontés vines grow higher than the vines of Mendoza, Burgundy and Bordeaux in France, or Napa Valley in the U.S.
Torrontés wines are light yellow in color with golden or green hues. The taste is a strong concentration of light and fruity flavors. What might look like a sweet wine, is refreshingly acidic. So make sure you think beyond Malbec and try the deliciously refreshing Torrontés white wines.
Vegetarian and Gluten Free
Eating meat-free in Argentina is not as difficult as most people think. Even in the land of the succulent steak, you will find several vegetarian options. In Buenos Aires, vegetarian restaurants are popping up all over the place. There are even organic farmers markets that sell vegetarian and gluten-free products.
Across Argentina, you will also find many grocery stores with dedicated sections selling vegetarian and gluten free options. There are also health food stores called dietética where non-meat eaters can find a range of alternatives.
Outside the Capital and in the north of Argentina, restaurants in smaller towns like Salta or even Tilcara, offer vegetarian menu items. One popular website you can use to find vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Argentina is HappyCow.
There’s More to Argentinian Cuisine Than Beef and Malbec Wines!
Argentina is blessed with incredible natural resources, from the fertile plains of the pampas, to the oceans and Andes Mountains.
Take the time to appreciate culinary specialties from the local regions where they are farmed and grown. Rest assured, you can find delicious and enjoyable authentic food experiences in Argentina that go beyond beef and Malbec wines.
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