Ah, the food……. I don’t even know where to begin. The food is so different here than in the US. I guess the most typical food is the empanada. These are baked meat turnovers, and they are delicious! The empanadas that I’m used to are fried, so these are a little different. There are various types, mostly meat though. I’ve decided I don’t like the chicken ones. They are very cheap on the street, so even if I’m short on funds, I can buy one for 7 pesos (about $1).
The confiterías are my favorite shops. There they have a variety of baked goods, like empanadas, Spanish potato tortillas, various tartas, pastas and more. Tartas are interesting. These are pies, kind of resembling a pan pizza, but not so much crust and they can be made with meat or vegetables. A popular vegetable filling here is pumpkin. They also use sweet potatoes, potatoes, spinach and a variety of cheeses in the tartas. Then there are the pastries. OMG, what choices they have for sweets! I can hardly go by a confitería and not just look in, drooling. All kinds of pies, cakes, pastries, candy. And they are all so beautiful! People look at me like I’m crazy when I take pictures of the glass cases. Now I understand why my Italian husband, Stefano was “bored” with American cakes. “Just bread with sugar and shortening on top,” he would say. Nothing boring about these desserts! They do remind me of the pastries you see in pastry shops in Italy – all shiny and scrumptious. In fact, the European – especially Italian – influence is obvious here. Pizza, pastas, gnocchi (here they spell them ñoquis – pronounced nyokees), caprese salads, Italian coffee – the list goes on and on. Anyone that knows me knows I love Italy, and the Italian influence here was a factor in my decision to come to Argentina. There are pasta shops (pasterías) that sell freshly-made pasta and sauces daily! 🙂
In fact, there are specialty shops for just about any type of food you want to buy, and they are all aptly named. If you want cheese, you go to the quesería, For meat, the carnicería, bread, the panadería, coffee the cafetería (no, it doesn’t mean cafeteria – well it does, but not always), fruit, frutería, and so on…. One would think at these specialty shops that it would cost more to buy the items, but no – it costs less! Of course you can buy almost anything at the supermercado, but the quality isn’t as good and you will pay a little more. So I have learned to go to the specialty shops for the things I like. Besides the confiterías, I also like the heladerías (ice cream shops). Do you know they will deliver ice cream to your house for no charge? Gotta love that!
For breakfast I like to have a medialuna. That’s basically a croissant with a little glaze on top, and they are highly addicting! You can find these literally anywhere, from the street corner to the grocery store to the subway, and points in between. They sell for about 3 pesos (about .40) and they’re delicious with coffee. Sometimes I will buy lunch out if I don’t have time to come home. There’s no such thing as carrying lunch with me here! In this case, I’ll have a cute little sandwich (like the one above) or a couple of empanadas. This will cost about 15 pesos, or $2.
There are lots of choices for supper. I will generally cook something with one of the other borders. We can make our own empanadas. They sell the little round pie crusts in a package and you just make your own filling, then fry or bake them. Other popular dinner dishes are pizza (you buy the crust pre-made and add your toppings), pasta and a variety of cheese dishes. There are also many buffets around that sell hot food by the kilo for take-out. I can eat about 3 meals on one kilo and it costs around 45-50 pesos, or around $6. So the food is fairly cheap and really good. Restaurants tend to be more expensive, but not by our standards. You can also get a bottle of wine with your meal for a few dollars. I’m still adjusting to the exchange though; it’s hard getting used to such high numbers. If I hear 200 pesos, I think, “Oh my gosh, that’s expensive!” but actually it’s only about $25. However, I have to keep within my budget because when you only earn about $500 a month and half goes to rent, $25 is a lot. So I keep it real and hoard my money as much as I can! 🙂
I am really enjoying the different tastes here, and developing a palate for my favorites. By far the most popular sweet flavor here is dulce de leche. It’s a type of caramel (literally milk candy) and it’s found in between cookies, in the middle, on top, as a filling for desserts, in ice cream – you name it. Fortunately for me, it has always been my favorite flavor, so I am in heaven with my sweet tooth here! I know for sure one of the things I will miss most about Argentina when I leave will be the food. For now, I am enjoying every bite!