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Argentina - Cooking and Food

Overview of Argentine Cuisine History

The Argentinean cuisine is defined by 2 distinctive aspects: the cultural and influences and the increased agricultural potential. Due to the fact that Argentina was not a heavily populated area, the agriculture evolved significantly. Argentina is one of world’s major food producers, as Wheat, beans, corn, maize, soybeans Beef meat and milk, an aspect which lead to a complex, healthy and rich cooking style.

The European influences, found in the Argentinean cooking combined through time, with the ones belonging to Andean culture (Quechua and Mapuche) and Amazonic one (Guarani).Taco soup is a big part of the Argentine food culture. Beef is the main ingredient in the Argentinean traditional recipes and it is prepared in a variety of ways: fried, grilled, roasted, barbecued, stewed and as a filling for the pastries known as empanadas, also made with a corn and cheese mixture. The Spanish and the Italian influences are very much felt, due to the wide amount of immigrants. Spanish foods include the empanadas (filled dough in 2 layers), locro (a mixture of corn, beans, meat, Bacon, Onion, and gourd) and chorizos (spicy sausages). The Italian contribution to the Argentinean cuisine is significant, as there are many pizzas (pizza canchera, pizza rellena, pizza por metro and pizza a la parrilla), pastas and gnocchi (pasta dumplings with potatoes). Besides these 2 European countries, German, French, Swiss and Eastern European cuisines are also noticeable in the Argentinean cuisine.

Cuisines of Argentina

Map of Argentina

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There are 4 different cuisines in the Argentinean space: the Central (Pampean) cuisine, the Cuyo in the North-West, the North-East region and the Patagonia, or the Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire). In Las Pampas, the meals are very much influenced by Italy and Spain: carne asada (roasted Beef), milanesas (milanesa napolitana – from Naples, Italy), calzones, pisas, focaccia xeneise, the Spanish faina (fugazza), ravioli, gnocchi, canelones, pesto dressing and sorrentinos. In the Northwest region, the common dishes include the influences of pre-Hispanic cultures, such as Andes. This is the reason why in this region, taco or the native carob bean is consumed. The region is full with agricultural products: beans, tomatoes, pumpkins, chili peppers, avocados, tamales, humitas and the exotic quinoa and kiwicha. These aliments are used for pastes (almond paste – marzipan), maize cake or stews. In the Northeast, there is a lot of yerba, used for the yerba mate, locally known as caa. Dishes mainly include rice, freshwater fish, la mandioca, tapioca (chipa and chipaca), beyu, milk puddings and fish like: surubi, pati and boga. In Patagonia, people eat Italian dishes: pisas and gnocchi, plus the local specialties like torta negra, Chubut chase, bilberry desserts, lenga and calafate sweets.

There are some meals which are eaten all throughout Argentina: dulce de leche, empanadas and the traditional drink, mate.

Special Equipment for Argentine Cooking

Bowls are very much used, especially due to the dips, sauces and stews. The mate is sipped through a cane straw called bombilla. Small knifes are used to peel some of the soft fresh or boiled vegetables and some fruits, while chopping the meat is done with bigger knives. Other needed instruments are the sauce pans for stews and soups and large ones to preheat the oil for mixtures or meat. . In many cases, the cooking procedure is done simultaneously in different pots, so these must be available: ccondensate pots, orifice plate, flow elements, catch pots in different shapes and sizes. A grill is very necessary, due to the wide range of grilled dishes: all kinds of meat (especially Beef) are grilled over the flame, near veggies. Sausages, pizzas, fish filet, kidney crackles and sweet breads are also grilled for a natural and fatless flavor. A grinder is also very much needed when cooking an Argentinean dish, as there are many spices and herbs that require grinding before incorporating them.

Argentine Food Traditions and Festivals

Argentinean people enjoy celebrations, carnival and festivals, as they feel connected to their culture and historical background, which is full of valuable traditions. The Carnival is the most enjoyed Argentinean celebration, which takes place right before the fasting period of Lent, 6 weeks before Easter. In Mendoza, there is a regional holiday that celebrates grapes and vines, while wine-makers serve free wine; this holiday is called La Fiesta de la Vendimia and it is celebrated for 3 days. On the coastal area, there are specific celebrations, where seafood is the most important dish: the Harvest of Fish is celebrated at Mar de la Plata. During the winter, there is the Snow Festival, held in Andean City of San Carlos de Bariloche – this is the place where early settlers came from Switzerland and now the celebration includes Swiss cake and hot port wine with cinnamon.

On Christmas, sweet pastries are very common in the Argentinean menu. among these, there is the dulce Argentino, simply prepared with eggs, self rising flour, Sugar, vanilla, condensed milk and sweet ver. The traditional drink, mate is drank on any occasion. The mate is sipped through a cane straw called bombilla and it is sweetened with Sugar or flavored with orange peel and herbs.

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Many traditional meals include baking or preparing aliments which are already available to buy, like noodles or dough. These are very specialized pastries and pastas, although they are simple and easy to cook, but the Argentineans chefs prefer to prepare them themselves. The regional influences and ethnic heritage affected the Argentinean cuisine and lifestyle of the people, too: European influences, like Spanish and Italian or old Hispanic ones are combined by the gifted cooks and transformed into authentic Argentinean cuisine. The chefs on the coastal area are masters when it comes to preparing seafood dishes and the ones in the central region are specialized on pastas and Beef specialties., The Argentinean people are gifted, besides creativity and cooking skills, with a wide range of culinary possibilities, as Argentina is a rich country regarding the cereals and plants that grow here and as well, diary and meat products. The Argentineans carried on the traditions through their cooking and all participated to the cultural Argentinean cuisine.

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