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National Food

ARGENTINA | Monday, 22 October 2007 | Views [949]

I have come to the conclusion, that were you to generalize S. American cuisine, it would be fried, accompanied by potatoes, and then something ridiculously sweet.  

If it isn´t sprayed with sugar, served with jam, deep fried (all meat is cooked this way… not battered, just deep-fried) or white bread, you must not be in S. America.  

I found out, if it is described as “chicken with creamed corn, bacon, asparagus, battered banana, and potato” what you will get is a piece of fried chicken, a cup of mashed corn, a slab of lard, no asparagus, a fried banana, and French fries.  For some reason I was expecting something a little more cohesive than every item deep-fried and served separately (granted, I was curious how they were going to work the banana in there and make it taste good, but when you just serve it battered on the side it doesn’t really matter)  I learned this order was a mistake.

 I learned this the same day Emma, James and I learned that there is a “sitting fee” at restaurants (yes, they charge you anywhere from a peso to five pesos just to sit)  and that when it says a litre of white wine, you may infact get sangria, white sangria (obviously it is because white wine isn’t sweet enough for south american tastes, adding fruit cocktail will make it that much better, I’m not complaining.  I actually liked it quite a bit, it was just a supprise)  Oh, and they don´t sell hats here, little girls go around with pack of socks and try and sell the to you while you eat dinner.

The next day, we learned the word for olive (aceituna) after a marathon game of chirades, involving the entire wait staff and the few spanish adj. I knew.  It went something like, "they are green and black... trees... like a fruit but salty... small" all accompanied by miming.  After being asked for the third time if you find them on cakes I gave up in search of a picture.  Finally after a good 20 minutes we reversed our order of what we thought were olives (which turned out to be little cakes) and were able to order the olives, peanuts, and chips which apparently came free with everyone elses drinks.  Granted they were drinking beer and we were drinking OJ, but still, it was happy hour.  Don´t some things just come free?

But the most important food fact that Emma and I learned was that there is a distinct difference between something described as containg "veal" and something described as containg "veal meat."  Just a hint, you want the veal meat... we realized that what Emma had was not, infact noodles, that was the "veal."

And, so far from all I have seen, the national food of Argentina is Helados- Ice Cream.  After dinner one night (the dinner where we learned all about sitting fees, sangria, and fried bananas) James  (of James and Emma from the Tupiza – Salta ordeal) suggested we not do a bar crawl, that we do an ice cream crawl.  

There are 8 to 10 ice cream shops on the 4 block walk from my hostel to the square, and they are all packed at all times.  This town has to be leading the world in ice cream stores per capita.  From three o´clock on 80% of the people you see on the street have an ice-cream.  It is amazing.   And you don´t just see people with a cone.  The vast majority is eating either a double cone (side by side, not up and down) or are eating straight out of a hand packed pint.  (although it is really cool, i learned you can get 2 flavors in just one scoop... and it only cost s fifty cents.  it must be that everyone is eating it just cause its so darn cheap)

With the combination of fried everything, no vegetables, (mad amounts of unbelievably good beef and wine) sugar and a main diet of ice cream, I just don´t understand how this country isn´t ridiculously overweight or dropping on street corners of heart attacks.  I´m really curious to know what the average life expectancy is here.  

I’ll tell you this, I’ve never wanted a salad so bad in my life.  I´m off to get an icecream before my bus.

Tags: Food & eating

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