Food & Drink
The bad news for all you veggies is that the Argentine folk believe that no meal is complete without meat and, the more disgusting the source, the better. Take for example, parrillada – the national favourite. This particular delicacy is a mixed grill whose ingredients consist of steak and assorted entrails. The usual accompaniments include small intestines (chinchulines), the large intestine (tripa gorda), the udder (ubre), the kidneys (riñones), the tongue (lengua), the brain (sesos), blood sausage (morcilla) and to top the whole concoction off you can have mollejas (sweetbreads). In fact the only part of a cow which they do not eat in one form or another is the lung. Maybe if I had just given you the local name there might have been the slightest chance that this dish could be appetising. Now, however, it would appear to be a lost cause, unless you have tendencies akin to Hannibal Lecter that is.
Other favorites which come to us compliments of the humble cow are grilled steak (bife de chorizo), sirloin steak (lomo), and small chunks of barbecued beef served with fried potatoes (tira de asado). These come with a salad and a local red wine which is called vino tinto.
Thankfully the immigrants who have helped shape Argentine culture have also made their mark on the cuisine. The Italian community have introduced their favourites of lasagne, cannelloni and ravioli as well as the local speciality of ñoquis (gnocchi in Italian). This is a traditional meal at the end of the month in Argentina and it for this reason that they are a common restaurant special on the 29th of each month.
Several regions also have their own particular type of cuisine. Spicy dishes from the Arab and Middle Eastern schools of cookery are popular in Mendoza and in the north of the country. In the south, you will find that lamb and mutton dishes prevail over the variety which require beef. River fish are excellent in the northeast and considering how much beef the natives eat, you will probably have your choice of the tastiest and freshest fish every time.
Argentina is also renowned for its excellent wines and because it is popular locally as well as world wide, prices have remained very reasonable. You should try a red from the Mendoza area if you are partial to a glass of wine, if not you might be better off with another favourite – coffee. Be careful though, they serve it exceptionally strong so when ordering you should ask for a cortado, which is brewed using a little milk to curb the strength. The fruit juices are also delicious so if you are a tee totaller, you will have much better luck than the poor vegetarians.