Argentina: Tango, asado, delicioso
Argentina is the largest Spanish speaking country in South America and is second only to the U.S. in the number of European immigrants. Spaniards and Italians are the most prevalent, but Germans, Irish and Welsh are there in good number too. Africans were brought by Europeans as slaves. They each add something to the pot.
This roiling culture chili bubbles with spicy passion. A raw passion for life. An innate passion for music. A sizzling passion for Tango. And a lusty passion for food.
The strongest cultural and culinary influences are definitely from the Spanish and the Italians. The Argentine table inherited European herbs and cooking techniques and the love of wine. The Argentine clock ticks to a Euro rhythm with sumptuous mid-day meals replete with wine and siestas. Dinner at midnight is quite common.
Conversely, the Americas are the birthplace of many of the important food stuffs on the European table today, such as corn, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, squash, avocados and many beans.
The Argentine people cherish their Asado – Gaucho (cowboy), style of cooking over an open fire. They love juicy steaks with chimichurri sauce, a mix of olive oil, herbs, vinegar and garlic. With almost 3,000 miles of Atlantic coastline, innumerable rivers and many large lakes, they also enjoy excellent fresh seafood and they adore their veggies.
The official drink of Argentina is wine, Malbec being the most important red and Torrontes the most popular white. While the Malbec grape was originally used in France for blending in Bordeaux wines, it reached global notoriety as a varietal from the Mendoza wine region in the 20th century as Argentine wine makers sought to expand exports by producing high quality wines. Today Argentine Malbec is celebrated around the world as a silky wine with excellent plum and black cherry notes.
Torrontes in Argentina, similar to Chardonnay in California, is enjoyed as a cocktail wine and as a fine complement to seafoods and salads. The unique flavors in Torrontes come from its lineage, a cross between the flowery Moscat and the Mission grape, (thought to be indigenous to South America).
If you can’t make it to Buenos Aires this month — no worries. The Old 5Mile House is jazzed to be serving up classic Argentine standards like grilled dry aged rib eye steaks with our own chimichurri — which we make the old fashioned way — with fresh herbs.
Mesquite grilled lobster with lime-garlic-cilantro butter and clams sautéed with white wine, herbs and spicy chorizo are also on the menu, along with a dark, juicy Malbec and a refreshing Torrontes. Want to grill a steak at home with the added pizazz of chimichurri? Just follow this simple recipe for a tangy, versatile sauce that would make almost anything taste better.
Robert Smith is the chef owner of the Old 5Mile House where they serve roadhouse food from around the world.
1 bunch parsley, leaves finely chopped
1 bunch cilantro, leaves finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
Combine everything in a bowl with a whisk. Let it rest for at least 30 minutes so that the flavors blend. Stir again right before use.
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