Asado literally means barbeque. Basically, it can entail any kind of meat to be grilled on the parrilla, meaning the barbeque grill. Especially during the summer, the asado becomes a communal event for family and friends to get together. Everyone contributes what he or she can, and there is usually one person in charge of actually grilling the meat. Others can contribute by setting the table, making a salad, etc. The sight can be quite a spectacle; it is not uncommon to see an entire lamb being grilled. Vegetarian options include grilling potatoes, corn and other vegetables
Empanadas are common in Spain, Chile and other parts of the world, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be the same as in Argentina. First, however, let me explain what they actually are: empanada literally means something that is breaded. In this case, however, it is more of a flour dough that is then filled with various ingredients. Typical fillings include meat, chicken, ham and cheese, mozzarella and tomato. At some establishments, you can even get whole-wheat variations with vegetarian fillings such as pumpkin or zucchini.
The name of this food comes from the saying “matar el hambre,” meaning to kill one’s hunger. Matambre is a long, thin slice of meat that is rolled around a filling, which usually includes spinach, onions, sliced carrots and hard-boiled egg. Together, these are simmered in stock until the meat is tender. After that, it is drained, cooled and sliced. As an appetizer, it can can be had at any hour of the day, but usually is consumed for lunch and/or dinner.
In Europe, this would have been called a Wiener Schnitzel. That is, a milanesa is a thin breaded meat. In Argentina, it is often served for lunch with French fries, or even as part of a sandwich. Usually, it will be meat-based, but some establishments have expanded to include chicken options (milanesa de pollo). Ask before you order if it makes a difference to you. Among vegetarians, milanesas de soja (breaded soy burgers) have become popular.
PIZZA (ARGENTINEAN STYLE)
Argentina still retains much of its Italian influence, and the pizza is part of that. In contrast to Italy, however, Argentina’s pizza is usually made with thick dough. You can get it everywhere; from the nearby street vendor as well as at a fancy restaurant. In fact, at some establishments, you can even buy it by the meter!
Finally, we come to the purely vegetarian options. Media luna literally translates as half-moon and is the equivalent of a French croissant. It is typical to eat several media lunas for breakfast, and they are also served as a traditional snack to be had in the afternoon.
DULCE DE LECHE
Dulce de leche is the Argentinean reply to jam or honey. But really, it doesn’t compare to either. This speciality is made from boiling condensed milk up until the point when it becomes a thick caramel paste; hence the brownish color. It can be eaten at almost every hour of the day, as well as during snacks in between. You can have it by itself, or smear it on a croissant or simply a piece of homemade bread. The typical version is the alfajor, which we come to next:
Yes, submarino means submarine. But only when you know what this is will you understand why it goes by this name. A submarino is a glass of hot milk that comes with a bar of chocolate. The latter is then submerged in the milk, letting it melt. Hence the name submarino. It’s a delicious version of hot chocolate that you can really have at any hour of the day!