Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Foods to try in Argentina

Despite it's multitude of food fails, Argentina does in fact have some must-eats. As my year and a half stay winds down, I've started to ponder what I'll miss. Sure, people who haven't been here see a medialuna and think "it's the same as a croissant," but it's not. Anyone who's had a luna understands. That being said, here is a list of foods which visitors must try, foreigners can only dream of and I will be gorging myself on from here on out.

The best foods in Argentina:

#1. MEDIALUNAS - No question. This pastry is like offspring of a croissant and a Pillsbury crescent roll. When properly made, they have a thin crispy outer crust covered in a sweet shiny coating, full of air pockets and able to be unrolled and eaten, or wolfed down in two fell swoops. They are everywhere you look, but they aren't always amazing, in fact they can be downright disgusting not worth the calories.
Best spot: Waaaay to many to choose one. It can also vary batch to batch. (Atalaya pictured)
#2. EMPANADAS: I like to think of them as homemade Hot Pockets, sans need for a microonda. (That's microwave in Spanish.) The best part is the variety of options. Now that I think of it, it's probably the food with the most variations in the country, legit. My favorites are carne de cuchillo (chopped beef), caprese, humita (corn with white sauce) and cebolla y queso (cheese and onion). They are prepared baked (al horno) or fried (frita); the fried are obviously awesome, but you gotta pace yourself on that. Also, I recently discovered that a meat empanada with raisins in it, is the ideal combo of sweet and savory.
Best spot: La Cocina @ Pueyrredón 1508, Fortin Salteno (pictured) @Cabildo 4702, or your kitchen with this recipe
#3. MILANESA: The name milanesa refers to the style of preparation- breading and then either baking or frying, a thin filet. The traditional Argentine milanesa is a thin piece of bread-crumbed beef, but you can find many varieties including chicken, fish, soy and vegetable. Milanesas are eaten as a sandwich, or as a meal topped like pizzas with everything from cheese and ham to fried eggs and heart of palm.
Best spot: El Club de la Milanesa (pictured)
#4. ASADO: Don't tell me. You're thinking, four? Shouldn't this be numero uno. Yes, when you throw down money and break the language barrier finally achieving a thick, tender, medium rare steak it vies for number one. This utopic situation though, is not always how it goes down. You'll see more choripans and parillas than you can imagine, but make sure you splurge at least once.
Best spot: La Cabrera (Cabana las Lilas pictured)
#5. FLAN: I was a flan hater when I came. It was baseless, I admit. I held the texture and consistency against it, while loving pudding, jello and Sublime behind it's back. Well, like all smart and stubborn people I came around. This Argie classic (like everything else in life) is best topped with a dollop of DDL.
Best spot: Taking recommendations.

#6. BEREJENAS ESCABCHE: Escabeche is a style of preparation similar to pickling, but with a larger variety of spices. My favorite oil-and-vinegar-soaked dish is eggplant, but you can get chicken, rabbit and a variety of other vegetables escabeche style as well.
Best spot: Your kitchen with this recipe

#7. LOCRO: Locro is a hearty stew made from a corn base that is particularly popular on patriotic holidays during the winter, like the 25th of May and 9th of July. There's no standard recipe, but common elements include lentils, pork or beef, potato, butternut squash, red pepper and other veggies.
Best spot: Sorry, no experience in restaurants.

#8.  FACTURAS: More than just medialunas, facturas in general come in a huge variety. Chocolate covered and dulce de leche filled churros are an excellent breakfast food in my opinion. Variety will depend shop to shop. It's best to get them early-ish on a weekend (or everyday) morning when they're fresh out of the oven. 
Best spot: Many, but La Argentina and La Capital (pictured) in Belgrano are good ones.

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