Or this post could be titled “Buenos Ares makes me fat”. When I studied abroad here 7 years ago, I packed on a few lbs but I attributed it to lots of drinking combined with little exercise. Turns out it was the helado and dulce de leche all along…
Food in BA is pretty similar to the food you find all over Argentina. It is a pretty meat heavy culture with steaks and choripans (sausage sandwich) galore!
The food also has a heavy Italian influence and any traditional Argentine restaurant will have pizza, pasta and gnocchi on the menu. Being on the backpacker budget, pasta is something that we cook for ourselves a lot so we don’t typically get it when we go out, but we do get pizza! Pizza here is a bit different. The crust varies by restaurant but is many times thicker and almost like focaccia bread. The pizzas typically only have thin layer of sauce, but have tons of melty mozzarella cheese. Plain pizzas usually come topped with green olives. Brandon and I usually get a Neapolitan pizza that has tomato slices on top and some times some herbs.
A very common food here (and all over South America) are empanadas. Argentine empanadas are usually baked instead of fried and popular fillings are ground beef, chicken, ham and cheese, corn, and spinach and cheese.
Another common food is a quiche like pie called a tarta. The fillings are many times similar to the empanada fillings – ham and cheese, corn, spinach and cheese, onion, and zucchini and carrot.
Argentina has the best desserts though. They love dulce de leche, which is a thick, spreadable caramel sauce and put it in and on everything. One of the most popular desserts is an alfajor, which is 2 cookies with dulce de leche between them. There are tons of variations of alfajores, though. The cookie type varies as does the coating. Many times there are dipped in chocolate or rolled in coconut.
Dulce de leche plays a huge role in my favorite dessert in Argentina – dulce de leche helado (ice cream)! There are heladerias (ice cream shops) on almost every block in Buenos Aires. Most have between 30 and 40 flavors of ice cream, with 1/4 dulce de leche flavors, 1/4 chocolate flavors, 1/4 vanilla flavors and 1/4 fruit flavors. While Brandon is partial to cookies and cream and granizada (vanilla with chocolate shavings), I always go for a dulce de leche flavor, my favorite being dulce de leche con brownie.
Breakfast is also a sweet filled affair. A typical desayuno will be cafe con leche (coffe with milk) and a few medialunas, which are sweet croissant like pastries. And don’t forget to put some dulce de leche on it!
Something that we loved about BA that was different than the rest of the country – food diversity! While there were all kind of international restaurants in our neighborhood, we were pretty excited for some food options that we missed from back home – gyros, burritos and gourmet burgers! Brandon and I were also really happy for the wider variety of craft beers in the city, although when my brother and sister-in-law tasted them, we were told that we had forgotten what good beer tasted like 🙂