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Argentinean Cuisine and Recipes

Information about Argentinean Cooking and Argentine Recipes


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Argentina is is situated in South America and is the eighth largest country in the world, covering an area of 2.8 million sq. km. with a 4,989 km coastline on the South Atlantic ocean.


The extreme geographical contrasts ranging from mountains to prairies, jungles to deserts and everything in between makes it the perfect host for all types of edible flora and fauna.


Add to this the mix of peoples from both South American and various European stock and  you get a veritable culinary detonation unlike that of its neighbouring countries.



Ancient Times and Influences on Argentine Cooking


Argentina's  political history  is somewhat complicated. It is  relatively young, only coming into being as an independent country in the early 19th Century. However as with most countries, its history has had a direct effect on its culinary culture. 


Before the arrival of the Europeans,  there were two main indigenous groups: the Diaguita in the northwest and the Guarani further south. When the Spanish arrived in 1502 they noted that the  southern inhabitants were primarily nomadic hunter gatherers, whilst the northwestern Incas were agricultural and cultivated maize. Cattle was introduced to the pampas in the 1550’s  which would have a profound affect on the cuisine of Argentina.


By the late 18th century Argentina  was part of a new Viceroyalty, an area which included Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay. The local Indians had introduced the use of foods such as  mangoes, squash, sweet potatoes and coconuts,  however the declining and scattered Indian population made it difficult to employ them as labour. One effect of this  led to the creation of huge cattle ranches, known as haciendas and  the beginnings of the gaucho (cowboy) who were the decedents of  early Spanish (Andalusian)  settlers who had mixed with local Indian women.


The second effect was huge immigration. Enter The Europeans en masse. Italians, French, Germans, British, Eastern Europeans... you name it, they came to take advantage of a country which held the promise of a better life and riches and with them they brought their culinary habits and tastes. They introduced  foods such as Italian Pasta,  French style bread instead of  tortillas and seasonings such as parsley, fresh oregano, paprika, thyme and bay leaves.



Current Day Cuisine in Argentina


If you're a vegetarian, then I'm afraid most Argentine cuisine is not for you. Beef reigns supreme in Argentina, with some people eating it more than once a day EVERY day. A favourite way of consuming beef  is the asado or barbecue. 


The strong European influence is still evident as the cooking terms criollo (creole)  and Porteño imply.


Chicken, Lamb,  pork and offal are also popular and the use of fresh locally grown produce is still preferred.  Argentine cooking is, on the whole, less fiery than that of its South American neighbours, with sweet peppers, tomatoes, herbs and onions being widely used as flavourings rather than chilies. There are some regional differences. For example, the cuisine in the north has a middle eastern spiciness to it whilst in the south especially along the costal regions, seafood and fish are often cooked European style with garlic, olive oil, herbs and white wine as the main flavourings.

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