In my last post I made the shocking confession that I prefer South American food over South East Asian food. Many people can’t understand why the thought of Pad Thai or Pho sends me into a cold sweat, as Thai and Vietnamese food are common favourites amongst travellers.
The reason I don’t really like South East Asian food is because I don’t eat fish or seafood. And by that I mean anything that has been in the sea. Seafood grosses me out. It looks nasty, it smells nasty, and it tastes nasty. Even when South East Asian food does not have fish in it, it will have fish sauce in it—fish sauce is possibly the nastiest substance ever concocted. I once had Spaghetti Bolognese in Vietnam. It had no meat in it, but it was drenched in fish sauce. It’s not for ethical reasons. I don’t care about fish at all; I just don’t want to eat them.
I’m much more a meat and potatoes kind of ‘gal, which is great because I am from Britain. It also means that travelling around places like Greece, the home of my favourite cuisine, is perfect for me. And, as it turns out, so is Argentina.
Not only has Argentina mastered the perfect steak but they have some pretty good desserts too.
Empanadas are essentially a small meat pie, but they are SO much more delicious than any other meat pies I have ever eaten. The most common empanadas fillings seem to be beef, chicken, or ham and cheese, and they can be found everywhere in South America, from restaurants to street stalls and even gas stations. I preferred the ones in Argentina as these tend to be ‘al horno’- oven-baked, rather than the fried versions we found elsewhere.
One of the highlights of my trip to Argentina was visiting a Finca in Mendoza, not for the wine but to make empanadas. I have since used the recipe to make them at home and they were just as delicious!
Steak and Chimichurri Sauce
Hand-on-heart, I can honestly say that I was not a big fan of steak before heading to South America. I could probably count on one hand the number of times I have ever eaten steak in my life before. But when I arrived in Buenos Aires I could not leave without trying Argentina’s national dish, Bife de Chorizo. I was very surprised to discover that after years of claiming not to like steak, that I actually really like it and ate it nearly every day I was there!
Dulce de Leche
Dulce de leche is a sweet caramel sauce that is made from heated condensed milk and it is common around the rest of South America, although it is known in some other countries as arequipe. Whilst it is often found on the breakfast table alongside the butter and jam, I preferred its use in desserts. Dulce de leche is used as an ice-cream flavour, inside chocolate bars and as an accompaniment to the popular flan. Check out this amazing dulce de leche cheesecake.
While flan is not local to Argentina, it is present on every dessert menu and is often the favourite choice on the menu del dia. Perhaps known more commonly around Europe as Crème Caramel, flan is a rich custard with a thick caramel sauce on top. Sometimes flan is served in round ramekins, but can also be served sliced. We were even offered complimentary flan in our hostel in Puerto Madryn every evening.
One of the many desserts using dulce de leche is the Alfajore: two crumbly biscuits sandwiched with Dulce de leche and coated in chocolate, or desiccated coconut. Alfajores can be found in the biscuit section of most stores, although these will be much smaller than the ones on offer at the patisseries and dessert counters of restaurants. We were often given alfajores as a snack on long bus journeys in Argentina, and as my boyfriend doesn’t like them I always got a second helping.
What is one of your favourite countries for food? Which are your favourite dishes? Please leave a comment below.