Argentina, the land of the Tango, is also home to a rich and diverse gastronomic scene. Its cuisine, a delightful fusion of Mediterranean influences shaped by Italian and Spanish immigrants, boasts a reputation for high-quality beef, mouthwatering wines, and a culinary style that is both hearty and delicious. Here, we delve into the main dishes of Argentina that form the soul of its food culture.
Asado – The Asado, or Argentine barbecue, is not just a dish; it’s a social event. The star of the show is Argentina’s world-renowned beef, grilled to perfection over wood or charcoal. This gastronomic ritual includes various cuts of meat, including ribs, sausages, and sweetbreads, cooked slowly to retain their flavors and tenderness. Served with chimichurri, a tangy sauce made from parsley, garlic, vinegar, and oil, Asado is the ultimate testament to Argentina’s love for beef.
Empanadas – Empanadas are the quintessential Argentine street food. These half-moon shaped pastries, filled with a variety of ingredients, are found in almost every corner of the country. Fillings may include minced or diced beef, chicken, cheese, and even sweet versions with quince or sweet potato. Every region has its unique take on empanadas, making them an exciting dish to explore throughout Argentina.
Milanesa – A dish that sings of Argentina’s European influence, Milanesa is a breaded meat cutlet, similar to the Italian Milanese. Traditionally made with beef or chicken, the meat is dipped in egg, coated in breadcrumbs, and then fried or baked. Milanesa can be served simply with mashed potatoes or in the ‘Napolitana’ style, topped with ham, tomato sauce, and melted cheese.
Locro – A hearty stew, Locro is Argentina’s response to the cold Andean winters. This dish combines corn, beans, potatoes, and a mixture of meats including beef, pork, and sometimes offal. Its rich, warming quality is synonymous with national celebrations, particularly the May Revolution anniversary, when communal pots of Locro simmer away across Argentina.
Provoleta – Provoleta is the showcase of Argentina’s Italian heritage. It’s a simple dish, yet its flavor is profound. A thick slice of Provolone cheese is seasoned with oregano, and sometimes a dash of chili, then grilled until it becomes bubbly and slightly crispy. Often served at Asados before the meat, Provoleta is an indulgent starter that’s hard to resist.
Alfajores – Although not a main dish, no survey of Argentine cuisine would be complete without mentioning Alfajores. These sweet treats, consisting of two shortbread cookies sandwiched with dulce de leche (a thick, caramel-like sauce) and often covered in chocolate, are a national obsession and the perfect end to an Argentine feast.
Argentine cuisine is marked by its regional diversity, European influences, and an unparalleled passion for beef. The gastronomic voyage from an Asado barbecue to the humble Empanada, the Italian-inspired Milanesa and Provoleta, the hearty Locro, and the sweet Alfajores illustrates the diverse culinary landscape of Argentina. Each dish tells a story, embodying Argentina’s cultural history and its appreciation for food as a means of bringing people together. Truly, Argentine cuisine is a vibrant dance of flavors, much like the Tango itself.