That the Argentinians love their meat is a fact. Some of them can not even survive one single day without a juicy piece of steak. One of them is one of my porteño friends. He told me that he had the desire to travel to India, but that he couldn’t, because cows are holy there and he would never ever survive without meat. When I told him that he could stuff himself there with delicious chicken dishes, he looked at me highly insulted and said: Chicken is not meat…it’s chicken!
Let’s see where the roots of this crazy love for meat comes from. The first cows were introduced in Argentina in 1536 by Spanish Conquistadors. From then on beef has played an important role in the Argentinian culture. Gauchos (South American cowboys), who lived in estancias (ranches) on the pampas (outback) used to be the masters of the cattle. They turned the asado (barbeque) into an important national dish. Their knowledge about breeding quality meat and how to prepare it made gave Argentina the position of 2nd biggest consumer and 3rd biggest exporter of beef, after Australia and Brazil. However, from my experience I can give them witout doubts the first position of most delicious meat.
The only way to understand this love for meat, is simply to try it. And oh boy they have good steaks. The quality of the meat here is so good and tender, that it needs no nonsense sauces, just some salt. Sometimes you get some chimichurri, which is a simple mix of spices, which can also come as a salsa. But do not put to much frills on your steak, it is an insult when the meat cannot be tasted anymore. The whole vaca (cow) is a part of the menu. If you don’t want to have an undefinable surprise on your plate, it can be usefull to learn some bodyparts by head before ordering in a restaurant. Parts which you can expect on the parilla are ofcourse different kinds of steak (of which lomo and bife de chorizo are excellent choices), sausages, chicken, and for the dare devils kidney, intestines and salivary glands.
Ready to indulge yourself in some Argentinian steak? Here is a list of excellent places in Buenos Aires where you can expect melt-in-your-mouth steaks:
– La Cabrera
– El Trapiche
– Don Julio
– Cabaña de las Lilas
Budget, but gooood!
– Las Cabras