Anyone who has spent considerable time in Argentina, preparing their own meals or dining at modern restaurants, has probably come across queso blanco (white cheese) or, as some may refer to it, queso crema (cream cheese) during their stay. Before I go further with this, hold on second. I may be repeating myself here, but I really wish that food scholars, historians, and top chefs would get together to form some sort of Argentinean authoritative collection similar to Larousse Gastronomique. Maybe there is one, out there and out of my reach, but a wealth of historical information about food still remains to be digitized for online access. If it even exists. Whatever information is online, is rarely sourced and the major newspapers offer no archival search for clues. For the latter, the reason is probably quite obvious but I’ll leave that to your imagination. So, we are left with personal interpretations and romantic myths when it comes to the origin of a dish or the naming of one. Do we really know if chimichurri came from Jimmy McCurry? And what about that milanesa a la napolitana?
Ok, not really. Spanish Manchego is protected under the Designation of Origin (DO) classification system and in order for a cheese to win that precious title, it has to follow all sorts of rules. One of which requires the cheese to originate from the region of La Mancha, Spain. Nor do the producers of this cheese I’m writing about try to market their product as such. Say, by labeling it with tipo Manchego, the regional equivalency of adding on flavored, type, style, etc. in order to skirt around the problems one may face when duplicating a product classified under DO. However, the cheese pictured below is made with sheep’s milk, has a semi-firm texture, and is probably aged from 3-4 months. So, I guess, one could say it is somewhat similar to a young Manchego cheese if you toss out all of the other rules.
Except for perhaps restaurant coverage, when the topic of food in Argentina is covered by guide books, travel articles, and blogs the authors usually stick to the usual suspects like beef and huge steaks, pizza, pasta, and empanadas. I guess I’m not helping too much with a site that is largely dedicated to cooking beef and asados but, you know, that has always been the mission of this site. Therefore, I’m going to go off topic here for a bit–like that has never happened before–and list some of the many gourmet and artisanal products that are produced by hard working small businesses around the country. Whether they were formed by families or friends, the visions were clear: to offer delicious gourmet products, inspired by regional cuisines from Argentina or around the world.
You might have a hard time finding buñuelos de espinaca on the menus of restaurants in Argentina but once in a while, for some, they can be part of a lunch or dinner or, simply act as a savory snack to kill the hunger. If you know someone who hates spinach, give them a taste of these and I’m sure they will change their mind.
Milanesa, to put it simply, is Latin America’s version of cotoletta and wiener schnitzel. Thin slices of veal or beef tenderized with plenty of whacks from a mallet, dunked in beaten eggs, liberally coated with bread crumbs–perhaps mixed with a little parsley and garlic, and finally fried in hot oil. In Argentina they can be found on the menus of most restaurants offering national cuisine, sold as ready-to-cook in butcher shops and supermarkets, or made from scratch by the family chef for lunch or dinner. Most often served with either fried or mashed potatoes, milanesa is serious comfort food. The most popular cuts of beef for milanesa in Argentina are round, sirloin tip, eye of round, and rump. I should cover milanesas more in the future but for now I present you the sandwich de milanesa.
From rotiserías (take-out joints) to cafés offering classic porteño fare to pricey fine dining establishments, in many parts of Argentina a platter of crispy–sometimes not so crispy–fried squid rings served with a couple wedges of lemon is not hard to find. Every place has their own unique recipe that ranges from a simple dusting of flour and salt to bubbly batters containing milk, eggs, or beer. Often offered as an appetizer, rabas fritas can work just was well as an entrée if you want to take a break from the beefy stuff. When and how these tasty morsels appeared in fried form on plates in Argentina is anyone’s guess. I’m sure the Spanish and Italian influence had a little to do with that and if you didn’t know, there is an abundant supply of squid off of Argentina’s coast.
Buying “natural” yogurt, just in flavor people, where I live can be a challenge at times. Acquiring plain natural yogurt without high amounts of sugar or high-fructose corn syrup is down right impossible. Although I’m sure times have changed, it was no easy feat when I lived up in Buenos Aires either. I’m not going to delve into the intricacies of why because, well, I’m not sure. But, I will say, do find it odd that yogurt-based products practically have their own aisle in the refrigerated food section of supermarkets yet plain natural yogurt is not one of them. Just as I find it odd that there are probably hundreds of thousands of sheep on this island yet products with sheep’s milk are not to be found. Oh well.
1. Take a super large pullman loaf (pan de miga gigante); white or whole wheat. Height and width average around a sq. foot (30cm x 30cm) and length of about 18in. to 22in. (45cm to 50 cm) in size.
2. Trim off crust so that non of the browned part remains.
3. Cut into thin slices. 1/3 inch (1 cm) thick.
This just caught my eye yesterday but it seems to have been playing for a while. (I don’t watch much TV except for documentaries and a few cheesy serials here and there.) Hellmann’s, the mayo people, have a set of 3 commercials promoting the use of their ketchup as a subsitute for any other form [...]