Just like many other countries on the American Continent, Argentina is full of diverse influences. During the 18th and 19th century, Argentina experienced one of the biggest immigrant waves in world history, mainly from Spain and Italy, but also from Russia, UK and Germany. These european roots are present in every aspect of Buenos Aires’s culture, and food is no exception. If you are wondering what you will be eating during your homestay experience, the following information will give you a sneak peak, get excited!
This tasty dish, made of pastry dough (baked or fried), captivates foreigners from all over the world. The most common empanadas are stuffed with meat, chicken, creamed corn (Humita), ham & cheese, tuna, onion & cheese, or really anything else you can imagine. After a while in Argentina, you’ll be able to tell which one’s which – at least the most common ones – based on the shape and the repulgue (the irregular border on top). It’s the easy choice when you are feeling lazy, the perfect companion for a get together with family or friends. You are bound to have this for dinner, lunch, and leftovers numerous times at your homestay!
Everyone knows that pizza comes from Italy (more specifically from Naples), therefore, it’s a staple in Argentina’s menus. There’s nothing like having a slice – or 4 – of pizza while watching your favorite soccer team on TV with friends. Just like empanadas, pizza can have lots of toppings and each one of them has a particular name: Muzzarela or “Muzza” (cheese), Napolitana (cheese and tomatoes), Calabresa (cheese and salami), Fugazzeta (cheese and onions), ham & red pepper, egg & cheese, hearts of palm and salsa golf (mayonnaise+ketchup), etc. Don’t worry your hosts will have this on the menu FOR SURE during your homestay experience.
Pastel de papa
As a kid, this is one of the best meals your mom could make you. Maybe that’s why so many porteños consider it a comfort food. Pastel de papa comes from United Kingdom in the 18th century, known there as cottage pie. Lower classes, who lived in cottages in rural areas, could only afford to grow potatoes and mix it up with meat leftovers and voilá pastel de papa was born.
Just grab a pan, add a thin layer of mashed potatoes (with or without cheese), a thick layer of ground beef – with onions, eggs, different kinds of peppers, oregano and olives – and another generous layer of mashed potatoes, put it in the oven and you are good to go. One of the most delicious dishes porteños make (meaning your will definitely have this at your homestay). Spoiler alert, you just won’t be able to eat just one piece!
There are many kinds of pastas you’ll eat at your homestay in Buenos Aires. Stuffed ravioli – with meat, chicken, veggies or ham and cheese -, cannelloni, ñoquis, lasagna and the most common of all, tallarines. Even though all the pastas are quite similar, the sauces make the difference. Bolognesa (tomato juice and meat), Tuco (tomato sauce), Manteca (butter), Blanca (cream) and many more complex ones like Pomarola, Pesto, Cuatro Quesos, Rosso, Paroissien, Gran Caruso, etc. And do not forget, lots of parmesan cheese on top!
Milanesa con puré/papas fritas (french fries)
Probably the number one on every homestay (and portños) dinner and lunch menu. The milanesa napolitana originated here in Argentina. It’s a breaded cut of meat or chicken, which can be fried or baked. It’s usually accompanied by mashed potatoes or french fries. There are two main variations of the milanesa- Milanesa a Caballo (two fried eggs on top) and Milanesa Napolitana (cheese, tomato sauce, tomatoes and oregano on top). If you are a vegetarian, do not fret, there are milanesas de soja that (soy milanesas) that give your taste buds the same experience. 🙂
I sure hope that by reading this, you have gotten yourself overly excited to live in a homestay (and, of course, you are now extremely hungry). No matter what your eating restrictions may be, your host will make sure to work around those needs! YUM, Argentine food!