Whenever I travel, food is always a big part of the equation. Finding the perfect restaurant, scoping out the street food scene, and browsing through vibrant markets are some of my favorite things. So when it came to planning my trip to Argentina, I decided to go all in, booking myself on the eight day “Argentina Real Food Adventure” with Intrepid.
My time in Argentina was chock full of awesome culinary experiences (all of which I will write about in due time, of course), but one of the absolute best had to be voyaging to the suburbs, where a local man welcomed us into his gorgeous home for an asado, also known as a slow-cooked meat FEAST.
En route to his home, we stopped at an Argentinian meat market. Meat is life in Argentina, basically, and our guide, Alberto, wanted us to see where the locals stock up. I love popping into grocery stores when I travel; what probably seems mundane to any local becomes almost exotic to me as a visitor.
After our brief meat detour (meatour?), we continued on to the home of Dario, our host and grillmaster for the day. We watched him load up the grill with a ton of meat. He told us that in Argentina, they only put salt on their meat when cooking it – no other spices needed!
While the meat cooked, we ducked to the backyard for appetizers and pre-meal relaxation. For drinks, we started with Campari and orange juice before moving on to Malbec (which is everywhere in Argentina, luckily for me, because it’s one of my very favorite wines). For our apps, we enjoyed empanadas, salami, and cheese. The starters alone would have been a plenty satisfying meal!
There was much, much more to enjoy though, as we soon sat down to dinner. Dario kept bringing out what felt like an endless flow of food: salad, grilled veggies, potatoes (cute into cubes and covered in mayo, which seems to be the Argentinian way), and MEAT. There were several different cuts of beef, sausages, and sweetbreads. I tried to eat a bit of everything – but, man, was it a lot!
Then it was time for dessert. Along with the coffee, Dario brought out a platter of mousses (I tried a chocolate one, and then a lemon one). There were also cakes: one with dulce de leche, the other with coconut.
To top it all off, we drank mate, a beverage everyone in Argentina is crazy about. It’s a tea made from the yerba-mate plant, and is quite bitter unless loaded up with sugar. Argentinians drink mate communally, everyone sipping from the same straw out of one cup. Mate is definitely an acquired taste and, to be quite honest, not one I’ve acquired yet – but I tried to drink it whenever offered in Argentina. It just seemed like the thing to do.
We staggered to our chariot (er, van) and cruised back to Buenos Aires in the most satisfying of food comas. We were all blown away by the warm welcome and thoughtful hospitality we received. It was a really cool opportunity not just to eat great food, but also to take a closer peek into real Argentinian life, outside the confines of a restaurant. What an afternoon!