Sunday, January 13, 2013

    Food is always an interesting way to see a culture. When you are living in a country different from your own, eating new kinds of food can be a big part of the cultural shock. Lucky for me, Argentinian diet does not differ too much from other South American countries, so instead of being in shock, I have been indulging in all kinds of delicious things.  Not good for my waist line, but good for my mood! 
 The traditional foods I have tasted during my time in Buenos Aires show strong European influence.  On the other hand, national ingredients are also present, which results in a unique array of flavors.   Below I mention some of the dishes, snacks and drinks I have been lucky to try -and a couple I am planning to -:

Breads and snacks

  1. Facturas
Facturas are small pastries and sweet bread pieces.  There is a great variety of facturas.  They vary on size, flavors, fillings and shape.  People eat facturas for breakfast or as a snack between meals.  They are my favorite from Argentinian’s cuisine!

Note:  The word factura also means bill.  Funny, uh?

  1. Empanadas
Most empanadas, when served, look like a semicircle.  Their shape reminds me of an Italian Calzone, being empanadas way smaller.  The dough for empanadas is usually made with flour and fat. The fillings vary from meat and cheese to dulce de leche. Once the filling is placed inside the empanada, these are either fried or baked.     

  1. Choripan

Chori, from the word chorizo, plus pan which means bread equals choripan. 
A baguette type of bread cut open and pieces of chorizo placed inside. That’s it!  
Choripan is seasoned with chimichurri, a common Argentinian sauce.
As an interesting note, I have not seen choripan offered in restaurants or cafés.  I have seen it a couple of times on the street. 


  1. Pizza

In Argentina there is pizza de molde which has thick crust, and I have not yet tried.  The other type is Pizza a la Piedra. With a thinner crust, and generous on the cheese, this is the one I have seen the most.  Toppings are what you usually find in other countries.  Argentineans make good, good pizza.

5.  Pastas

Pasta has not been my first choice when eating out.  However, you can be sure it is in every single menu in Buenos Aires’ restaurants.  Along with the pizza, this part of the diet is a pretty obvious consequence of Italian immigration to Argentina.

  1.  Milanesas
Milanesas, as pasta, are omnipresent.  You could even buy a milanesa in the carnicería ready to fry.  Not frozen, just ready!

  1. Parrillada

This dish, to me, is the most representative of  Argentinian cuisine. Parrillada includes chorizo, chinchulines, morcilla and different cuts of red meats cooked and served on a grill (parrilla).   This meat feast is usually accompanied by red wine, bread and salad.  –and a good nap, if possible-.


  1. Dulce de Leche

Dulce de Leche is widely consumed and used as baking ingredient in Argentina, as well as in many other Latin American countries.

  1. Alfajores

Alfajores are basically two cookies joined together by a sweet filling, usually dulce de leche.   They may be covered in chocolate. Alfajores are common in Spain and many South American countries.


  1. Vino patero

This is foot-pressed wine.  Made using more traditional techniques, and sold by cup or jar.

  1. Mate
Mate is a traditional infused drink, inherited from the indigenous that inhabited this part of South America.  Mate is also common in some parts of Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and, of course, Argentina.  It is prepared infusing dried leaves of the plant yerba mate in water.   

I know there are many more dishes and foods to try.  I may comment on them as I learn more about Argentinian cuisine… Have you been to Argentina and tried their food?  Did you have a favorite?

My quest for a Tango show was not over yet. Since my online research was not giving much results, my brother resorted to word of mouth. A friend of his suggested the Centro Cultural Torquato tasso. I was a bit skeptical because the one singing was "La Chicana Tango". I have nothing against Chicano music, but I was in Buenos Aires and the thing to do was to Tango.

Anyway, I trusted the recommendation and took a bus to San Telmo, were the Tasso is located.

The place is not small, but is not a stadium either. Which means that, even if your table is in the back, you get to see the show. They ask attendants to arrive early, so they food can be ordered and served before the show starts. We order a picada and some wine, and they brought our food just on time, right before the show. When Dolores Sola, "La Chicana" came out, dressed in a way that strongly ressembled Frida Kahlo, I was not worried any more about not listening to Tango. I was up for a good show and open to see what they had to offer. Let me tell you, it was a great show! No dancing this time, but excellent musicians and a powerful voice that let us craving even more. It was a modern version of Tango, with all the flair of the traditional. I leave you today with a video of La Chicana and her band. Next time I visit Buenos Aires, I am going back to El Tasso for some more good wine and music!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

El Paso, TX

"That's just a piece of dirt.” That is what I hear a Texan say once about El Paso, and I believed him.  I could not help but think about those dusty, small cowboy towns you see in movies…  I have to tell you my friends, there is some truth to that, but this place has much more to offer.  Here are some things that caught my attention during my second visit to the city:

1.        The Río Grande is not so grande.  (big)

2.       Standing on what is today the University of Texas at El Paso, I can see the city of Juárez, Mx.  I feel I am almost there, literally.  I could see a message about the Bible, which is carved on the mountain side.  I could also follow a soccer match happening on a paved basketball court by the border.

3.       The US Government did build a fence….  

4.       The first Spanish Mission built in Texas is still here, and people still go to mass there!  (More about it on future post).

5.       During the 50’s someone thought it would be pretty cool to bring real crocodiles to the plaza in El Paso’s downtown, so they DID!  For obvious safety reasons, the crocs are gone.  There is a huge statue of them instead.

Have you been to El Paso?  What did you think of the city?

Landfill Harmonic

Monday, February 20, 2012