The History of Argentinian Cuisine

Due to the fact that Argentina was never heavily populated, it has a small amount of indigenous cuisine. However, the indigenous that did populate the area grew squash, melons, and sweet potatoes. As a result of mass European immigration from the 1880s to the 1890s, Argentine cuisine is a cultural melting pot. The influx of Spanish, Italian, German, French, Swiss, and Belgian citizens brought various new dishes to Argentina. This international combination has created dishes that people crave around the world.

More than just Sustenance

Some popular and traditional dishes are empanadas (little pies usually stuffed with beef, vegetables, and cheese), locro (a stew made with corn, beans, meat, onions and bacon), and chorizo (a spicy sausage). The central region features beef of the highest quality, which was introduced to the land in the 16th century. Additionally, Argentinian cuisine is not complete without a variety of Italian dishes. Pizza, pasta, and ñoquis immigrated with the large amount of Italian descendents in the late 19th century. Argentines eat more fruit than almost any other group of people in the world. Some of these fruits include peaches, apricots, plums, pears, cherries, grapes and tuna, the fruit of a prickly pear cactus.

Argentina’s Claim to Fame

cattle.jpgEating beef became a tradition in the late 1800s as a result of an abundance of cattle in the Pampas region. Originally, the beef was roasted on a spit over an open fire and when it was finished, people sliced off chunks and held the end of each chunk in their mouth while they cut off the rest with a knife.

Today, however, beef is served in a variety of different ways. Bife a caballo (beef on horseback) is a piece of steak topped with an egg. Another variation, parrillada, is blood sausage, ribs and other meat grilled together. Churrasco is grilled steak and milanesa is deep-fried breaded beef. Additionally, an asado, beef roast barbecued over an open fire, is a common dish in Argentina. For the daring individuals, asado con cuero can be found at certain restaurants.
Asado con cuero is a whole beef steak roasted with the hide and the hair.
Argentinian cattle are a large part of the tradition and culture of Argentina. This single most-important ingredient is a main reason why travelers from around the world make the journey to the South American jewel known as Argentina.

¿Desayuno, almuerzo o cena?

Although it varies based on region, most Argentinians eat four meals a day. Desayuno (breakfast) usually includes rolls, jam, and coffee. Almuerzo (lunch) typically includes meat and vegetables or a salad. After work, many Argentinians go to confiterías (cafés) to drink espresso and eat picadas, small dishes of cheese, mussels, salami, anchovies, olives and peanuts. Confiterías (cafés) in Buenos Aires serve as places where people meet friends and business associates, workers take coffee breaks and the elderly play dominoes. Finally, Argentinians eat cena (dinner), the largest meal of the day. Cena almost always includes beef.

Celebrating the Holidays with Cuisine

Like most Spanish-speaking countries, Argentina is a heavily Christian nation.
In the Christian religion, Lent is the 40-day period before Easter in which Christians fast. During the week before Lent, a large festival called Carnival is celebrated. During this festival, people eat food such as corn stew and humitas en chala (corn patties wrapped and cooked in their husks). Additionally, it is a tradition to eat a cake in the shape of a large ring. During lent, because it is a tradition in the Roman Catholic Church to not eat meat, Argentines attempt to eat more seafood. Bocaditos are finger sandwiches made with shrimp. These sandwiches are popular for lunch or a snack during Lent. On Easter, Argentinian children eat chocolate eggs with tiny candies hidden inside.

On Christmas Eve, December 24, Argentines eat a meal of cold beef, chicken, or turkey, and fruit salad late at night. Due to the fact that Christmas occurs during the summer in South America, Argentines typically eat Christmas dinner outside on decorated tables. Although Christmas dinner can include sweet and sour pig, chicken Provencal style, and “pesheto” or tongue, the most traditional dish is grilled meat or “parrillada Argentina.” After dinner is over, Argentinians eat almonds, dried fruits, and pan dulce, a sweet bread that is similar to fruitcake.


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