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					Ana Baird

Mr. De Roos

English 4

February 15, 2005

                                     Argentina‟s Exquisite Cuisine

The way Argentineans cook attracts much attention and is very interesting. They use distinctive
ingredients and delicate elements, such as a knife called a facon, which is used for the barbecue‟s
meat. These foods taste very delicious and Argentineans eat them with families and friends, while
they have long conversations. Argentinean cuisine and its culture are very interesting to investigate.

Empanadas Salteñas, which are called meat pies in English, are popular and have an interesting
history. Empanadas are one of the world‟s finest snacks, which are a tasty turnover filled with
vegetables, hard-boiled egg, olive, beef, chicken, ham and cheese, or other fillings (Bernhardson 89).
Although people„s tastes differ, the most popular fillings are meat and quince-jam. Juana Manuela
Gorriti, an extraordinary writer from Salta, Argentina, is considered to be the woman who invented
empanadas; She prepared them for the very first time (“Salteñas”). She used to be a poor woman
living with a poor family, so they started making and selling empanadas with the hope of getting a
better life. Even after the efforts of Doña Manuela Gorriti were applied in the preparation of the
empanadas, popular sectors have applied different approaches to achieve a gourmet effect
(“Salteñas”). In restaurants, the empanadas are prepared deliciously, but they are more special when
they are cooked at home because Argentineans can make as many meat pies as they like with
different recipes, and in different ways.

The Empanadas Salteñas have various exquisite recipes, but they also have various inappropriate
recipes that don‟t work well. They also have different shapes. They can be shaped according to
different events and also with different types of folds to identify them according to the type of filling
inside. These different appearances have been passed down from generation to generation and have
become traditional over time (“Un aspecto unico...”). The most popular choices are meat and
membrillo, depending on people‟s tastes, and this is a very traditional dish that is very common.
Further north from the originating area of the Empanada Salteña the product has suffered variations
of all types that do not taste well at all (“Salteñas”). The most inappropriate fillings for empanadas
are a mixture of corn and squash, and a mixture of black and/or green olives with peas or stew. The
empanada has the form of a croissant, at times a bit thicker in the middle, depending on one‟s tastes
(“Un aspecto unico...”). The empanadas also have other forms with different names, but the most
popular choice is a form of a half moon.

Although the meat pies have variations, they also have few steps for their preparation in the kitchen.
The preparation of the Empanadas Salteñas has to be divided into two parts: “One is dedicated to
the elaboration of the filling and the other to the mass that involves it” (“Una receta...”). The filling
may take half hour or more to get cooked, an hour and half to a day to cool in the freezer, and half
hour to put it in the dough and fry it. The filling gets prepared first because it has to be well
refrigerated and safe from the high temperatures. A good filling can be maintained in the refrigerator
for several days (“Una receta...”). When preparing the filling, paprika is carefully added, which is one
of its secret flavors. To make the dough, flour, sugar, and butter, and some milk are stirred together
without kneading. Then it has to rest for a while and be stretched, folded, and cut into discs (“El
Libro de Cocina”). After forming discs with the dough, about a tablespoon of filling must be scooped
into each of the discs, and it must be folded and sealed either with the fingers or a fork. The correct
combination of filling, dough, and will lead to excellent results in the cooking process and a
wonderful meal that all will enjoy.
Asado, which is a variety of Argentinean barbecue, forms part of the Argentinean culture and makes
people gather together. Asado forms part of the Argentinean folklore, and any activity is a good
excuse to gather together and eat asado (“El Asado Argentino”). The best places to eat an asado are
at a soccer game, and in all houses of Argentina. It reunites the family and friends in all occasions,
such as birthdays, national holidays, Saturday night gatherings, and Sunday afternoons in the
country (“El Asado Argentino”). The best times to eat asado in Argentina are during summer
vacations and New Year‟s Eve. It takes one and ½ to 2 hours to prepare asado. The meat should be
at room temperature before cooking it and should be salted prior to placing on the grill (“La Web de
Facundo”). Instead of using salt on the meat, the Argentineans will also use a type of sauce called
chimichurri, which can be placed, on all of the meat including the sausage, long cut short ribs, and
vacio prior to the cooking process.

Asado cooking process is very special and only an experienced cook will obtain the proper results.
The red meats and sausage can also be accompanied with riñones, mollejas, higado, and
chinchulines, which are obtained from the organs of the slaughtered cattle (“El Asado Argentino”).
These meats are considered to be very healthy as they are very lean. Asado includes different foods,
which are archuras, arrebato, bife de chorizo, chimichurri, chorizo, matambre, mariposa, provoletta,
salsa criolla, salsicha parrillera, tira de asado, tripa gorda, vacio, chicken meat, and lechon (“El Asado
Argentino”). The best choices are archuras, bife de chorizo, and chimichurri for the meat, chorizo,
matambre, salsa criola, salchicha parillera, tripa gorda and vacio, depending on one‟s tastes. Usually
people make barbecue every Sunday and use cuts of meat like the ribs, the fore shank, flank steak,
sausages, and other cuts (“Argentine Cuts”). For the asado, the most common cuts used are vacio
and costillas, but other items can be added to prepare a variety of wonderfully cooked meats and

Asado‟s meats generally come from young cattle, which have been naturally fed and prepared under
strict controls for this purpose. The first record of cattle for meat to the Argentinean territory dates
back to 1556 when Juan de Salazar and Espinosa with the Goes brothers brought a bull and seven
cows from Brazil (“El Asado Argentino”). As for today, Argentina‟s beef is very well known all around
the world. During the two centuries previous to the nineteen hundreds, millions of wild cattle
wandered throughout the Argentinean Pampas feeding on the grass and vegetation that grow there
(“El Asado Argentino”). Grass and fodder in the Pampas area are excellent for feeding cattle. Since
the commercial value of a cow was narrowed to the use of the red meat, once slaughtered the
remaining parts of cattle were of no interest for exportation and those parts remaining were
processed by the Argentine Gauchos who would use as much of it as possible, feeding themselves
(“The Gauchos”). Many people use these parts today as a main dish in their diet and many are
considered a delicacy in Argentina.

A knife was used by the gauchos to cut the asado‟s meat, which they did in a very delicate way. All
gauchos or Creoles were always carried with a good knife called a Facon, which was of great value
for use in preparing and eating asado and for other different types of uses in their daily chores (“El
Asado Argentino”). The facon is a very essential tool for the gauchos. The Facon used by the
Gauchos will actually vary in size and shape according to the specific task at hand: The longest is
called a Carroñero or Great Facon, it is about 20 inches long; the second is called a Facon and it‟s
about 15 inches long, and there is a shorter blade known as a verijero and is only around 10 inches
long. All of these blades are double edged in the same manner as a dagger, and the gauchos would
use them according to their daily need and the specific job at hand (“El Asado Argentino”). The
Facon‟s handle was usually made from noble metals such as silver and gold. The gold usually had
etchings in the metal depicting different situations in their daily life and the asado as the main
drawing. With the facon or with any other of the knives, the gauchos were fulfilling a hole of twenty
centimeters in the earth, there they were putting firewood and were lightening a bonfire rubbing
lumber (“El Asado Argentino”). Gauchos have been known to prepare an asado with these knives,
beginning with the cattle in the field and ending with the cutting of a succulent piece of meat for
dinner placed on a homemade piece of bread on the open Pampas. Even as for today, it‟s a tradition
for the gauchos to wear a facon on their belt even though their usage is now limited.

Another typical food made from red meat that Argentineans eat is called milanesas and it can be
requested in several different ways in restaurants, and they also eat it at home with more frequency
than barbecue. Milanesas are not steaks, they are small pieces of meat cut delicately, free from skin
and fat, and taken from several different cuts of beef such as chuck (Cuadrada), round roast (Bola
de Lomo) or round eye (Peceto) (Marchese). The Argentineans prefer the round roast cuts because
they are very tender and the chuck is used quite often because of its shape. Several other food items
can accompany the milanesa during a meal such as French fries, fried eggs, and baked red peppers.
One of Argentina‟s favorite lunch items is the milanesa sandwich, which may include several different
types of bread, with the meat alone or with toppings such as lettuce, tomatoes or eggs. This item is
sold throughout Argentina in stadiums, in bars, or by street vendors. This product is so widespread
today in Argentina that popular opinion is expressed as “truth of the milanesa” (Marchese). The
milanesa has become so popular over time that today it is considered the middle class food of choice
and there is a saying used to express the general feelings in the society. The origin of the milanesa
has a bitter origin considering the fact that both Milan from Italy and Vienna from Austria claim title
to its first creation in the year 900 (Marchese). Generally the name itself speaks to the origin and this
food is normally considered to have had it‟s beginning in Italy. The milanesa along with its
accompanying toppings and other foodstuffs has become an important factor of nutritional value in
the fast paced life that most Argentines lead today.

A principle part of the Argentinean diet is Mate, a type of herb tea that has a very interesting history
originating in several countries surrounding Argentina. Mate is made from the young leaves of the
Paraguayan holly tree, which is an evergreen tree of the holly family (Gofen 128). Mate is properly
known as a bitter tea herb. Yerba mate was developed by the indigenous Indians, adopted by the
gauchos, and finally adopted by the entire country (Gofen 129). Today it is used in every day meals
and for individuals and social get together. The word mate derives from the Quechuan word “mati,”
which means glass or recipient to drink (Homo Potans Viridis). The scientific name for the mate tree
is “Ilexis Paraguayencis.” This natural herb tea has been found to have both nutritional and medicinal
befits for those who drink it.

Mate is Argentines‟ most important social beverage and is used for social events or private gatherings
and is a very special drink. The drink is sometimes shared socially by being passed around as each
person takes a sip from the same cup (Gofen 129). It‟s not just drinking a liquid through a straw, it‟s
something more than that: “it‟s like a sensation, a feeling, a tradition, a company” (“El Mate”). When
an Argentinean feels lonely or nervous, many times they will pass the time away sipping this tea.
Even youngsters who have began very young in life by testing this tea have discovered one of the
most exclusively Argentine traditions while studying those personal feelings that can only be found
out in moments of solace and meditation. Adults and youngsters alike use this herb tea throughout
the day (“Homo Potans Viridis”). Even in moments of exhaustion or sadness Argentines use this tea
to recover strength and find simple pleasure in this infusion‟s special taste.

Mate is considered to be a very nutritious and healthy drink, and it energizes Argentines very much.
Besides providing essential minerals like potassium, sodium, and magnesium, the yerba mate retards
the accumulation of the lactic acid in the muscles (“Propiedades Nutricionales de la Yerba Mate”).
Today mate is also used in a tea form to be served as a beverage in elementary schools in the
interior of the country in order to replace missing foods for poor children. Studies recently done in
the United States indicate that this herb contains a substance called polyphenoles, which are
powerful antioxidants that elevate the natural defenses of the organism and protect it against cellular
destruction that causes the body to deteriorate and to develop symptoms of sickness (“Propiedades
Nutricionales de la Yerba Mate”). Hospitals serve mate in liquid form to patients with several
deficiencies as a supplement of aggressive medicines that may cause other collateral problems. “In
the past, the gauchos found that mate energized them so much that they could go for long stretches
on horseback without food or sleep” (Gofen 129). In the Argentine Pampas miles and miles of open
land did not allow workers to return to base constantly for food and rest. The Argentine Gauchos
used this herb to make their work easier and delay the need for food over long periods of time.

One of the principle desserts found today in the Argentinean culture is the alfajor, a sandwich shape
with chocolate and dulce de leche, which is a very exquisite snack that has a great level of sales
throughout Argentina and the world today. According to a recent poll, there are 12,097,000
consumers of alfajores (“Los Alfajores”). This wonderful product is used in lunch buckets, social
events and just because. More than half of the alfajores consumed in the country are purchased in
the Capital and Great Buenos Aires (“Los Alfajores”). Women eat more alfajores than men; kids and
young people between twelve and nineteen years old consume 24%, and people age 50 and older
consume 21%. The lowest classes consume 53% of all alfajores because, according to polls taken,
the alfajor has gone from being a delicacy to being a cheap snack and it is considered that in the
worst economical moments the highest consumption of alfajores occur (“Los Alfajores”). Originally
the Alfajor was a special treat only used at high society events, however, today it is used in all
Argentine homes and for any circumstance.

A principle element in the preparation of almost all Argentine desserts is Dulce De Leche, which was
born from a careless mistake. Juan Manuel de Rosas was an important figure in argentine history
who was defeated by another important general, and the night that he lost his battle, his wife forgot
to remove the milk that she was warming over the fire for him because of the situation and as it
contained sugar, it turned into what now is known as dulce de leche (“El Dulce De Leche”). The
defeating General Lavalle would later be considered a great hero in Argentine history. The Dulce de
Leche can be thickened for it‟s placement in alfajores, cakes, bonbons, and ice cream, which are the
desserts that Argentines immigrants will always search for in foreign countries (“Como se espesa el
dulce de leche?”). Select stores and kiosks are found around the world with this select item so
important to Argentines. The zone of greater elaboration of the dulce de leche is the pampean
regions of Cordoba, Santa Fe, Buenos Aires, kingdom of the cows and of its insuperable milk: the
product can be artesanal or industrial, recently it got certain names to distinguish it in its destiny and
type of the fabrication (“Variedades de Dulce de Leche”). Today it is prepared for mass consumption
or in individual homes as the case may be.

The Argentinean cuisine is truly different in several aspects. The Argentinean culture has developed a
rich variety over years of influx from both internal and external sources. Several items found in
Argentine cuisine originated from indigenous cultures found prior to colonization of what is today
modern Argentina. The advent of cattle in the massive Pampas region of Argentina gave to a
splendid opportunity to develop a culture of red meat production of the highest quality and the
people in Argentina today utilize cattle as one of their principle items in their daily diet. Foreign
influences over years of colonization have brought in several dispositions towards types of foods
used by the populace and today this has affected almost every type of food in Argentine cuisine

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