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Thomas: Food & drink

September 4, 2011

It’s everyone’s favorite topic: food. After all, everyone must consume it to survive, so why not enjoy it a little. The food in Buenos Aires has been exceptional thus far, although as one can expect, there are several differences in how people from the United States eat/drink to how the Porteños eat/drink.

Breakfast

I must admit, at my homestay, I am getting fed more like an American than a Porteños. It seems like my serving sizes are slightly larger than everyone else’s in my family. A breakfast tray is put out for me seven days a week, which includes bread for toast, orange marmalade, queso blanco (cream cheese spread), dulce de leche, two kinds of cereal, milk (warm and cold), instant coffee, and sometimes fruit.

Quite the display, I know. Most people here just eat toast with spread, coffee and maybe juice. You won’t find any pancake or waffle breakfasts here in Buenos Aires. It’s the lightest meal of the day. A couple items to highlight, the coffee and the dulce de leche.

I know in the U.S., instant coffee is becoming more popular, but this is my first time trying it. It’s not bad, and I usually enjoy 3 cups in the morning. In restaurants here in Buenos Aires, you will find many people enjoying a typical breakfast of coffee and a croissant. All coffee found in cafe’s is actually espresso, so it’s mighty strong and comes in a tiny cup. A lot of people enjoy their coffee with steamed milk (half coffee/half milk or Cafe con leche). In the U.S., we would call this a Latte. Also note, portion size in Coffees is much smaller than in the U.S. Most places only give you a small or a medium size coffee. A medium size looks more like a small in the U.S.

I want to highlight Dulce de Leche because it is a staple here in Argentina. It’s made here and enjoyed daily by almost everyone. Dulce de Leche literally translates to “candy of milk”. It’s basically heaven in a jar. It tastes similar to caramel and milk chocolate, but nothing really compares. Sometimes I will spread it on my toast in the morning, eat it with a fruit, dessert, or with nearly every candy in Argentina. Many candy makers include Dulce de Leche in their products.

Lunch

Enjoyed between 12 and 3 o’clock. Typically I eat out for lunch at a cafe or restaurant near my school. A light sandwich or salad is a common lunch and is much like those we enjoy in the U.S. One big difference when eating out is that water is not free here in Buenos Aires. It comes with or without bubbles, and in a glass bottle. As someone who typically orders water in the U.S., free of charge, this has been difficult for the pocketbook to grasp.

Dinner

Enjoyed between 8:30 and 11:30 pm. My host-mother is a fantastic cook, so I have yet to dislike a home cooked dinner in Buenos Aires. Each night I am served at 8:30, early for most people here. Porteños eat very late. Like the U.S., Argentina eats a lot of meat and potatoes, and they are of course most famous for their cuts of steak. I have had steak twice at home, but never at a restaurant.

A favorite meal of mine so far at my homestay included three different varieties of potato, seasoned chicken breast w/ grilled onions, and tomatoes w/ olives on the side. Argentinians love their desserts, and so far I have been served a number of traditional Argentinean dishes. Of course the food, culture, and livelihood here is heavily influenced by the Europeans as most Porteños are direct descendents of Italy, Spain, France, or Germany.

Sweets

A very popular candy in Argentina is the Alfajor. This treat consists of two soft wafers glued together with dulce de leche, and finally covered with chocolate. Muy delicioso. There’s no question, Porteños have a sweet tooth.

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