Getting beefed up in Argentina

They possibly do know what vegetables are in Argentina, but few people have had any personal experience with them.

I am, of course, joking as Argentines know that vegetables are what you eat with beef – if you could possible fit any vegies in after gorging on beef. You see beef, lots of it, comprises an important part of the local peoples’ diets. If you ever wish to know how best to prepare beef, then Argentina is really the place for you to learn.

Argentina, and also its neighbour Uruguay are the two top countries in the world for meat eating when it comes to measuring the consumption of meat per capita. In fact, Argentines eat an average of 65 kilograms of beef each per year. If that doesn’t sound like much, it is about double the consumption of North Americans.

There is one excellent reason why beef is so popular there, and it is called the Pampas, those huge grasslands not far from Buenos Aires which feed some of the world’s largest cattle herds. Argentine beef really is extraordinary. Almost all of this has to do with how the cows are raised. There are no factory feedlots in Argentina; the animals still eat pampas grass their whole lives, in open pasture.

The most popular way to prepare the beef is by barbecue, or what is known locally as asado and also parrillada, which is a play on the Spanish word parrilla, which means grill. The parrilla is a charcoal grill, and the asado cooking method on an asador looks much meaner, resembling iron crucifixes which circle an open fire.

Apart from the obvious cuts of beef, which really aren’t so obvious in Argentina, as they tend to cut their beef in a different way, such as cutting ribs across the bone.

Steaks tend to be cut much thicker than in the U.S., but they also tend to be leaner than the steaks that you get in the States.

As you would expect in a country where meat eating is an obsession, there are plenty of different cuts from which to choose. Popular cuts include bife de chorizo, asado de bife, churrascos, lomo, vaco, bife de costilla, ojo de bife, and lots of bits of offal that gringos tend to throw away.

Steaks are usually served with a condiment called chimichurri which is made from a combination of garlic, hot peppers, oregano, parsley and vinegar, in varying proportions.

The other thing you should know about eating in Argentina is that dinner is eaten late – often not until 10pm at night. So if you are a vegan who is used to dining early in the evening, Argentina may not be the perfect destination for you.

1 comment to Getting beefed up in Argentina

  • Anna Moore

    Hiya Steve,

    Mmmm… still missing those Buenos Aires steaks… It’s been too long: nearly a year since I was last there. Just thought I’d mention that the link you have on this page to easybuenosairescity.com doesn’t work – it’s some kind of spam advertising site. I’ve always liked the South America guides at RealWorld, personally, so have a look at http://www.realworldholidays.co.uk/argentina/guide/buenosaires.aspx and see if that would work for you instead!

    Buen provecho!

    Anna

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