"LIVE! LIVE! LIVE! Life's a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death"
attributed to Mame Dennis

Monday, May 17, 2010


To say people eat dinner late in Argentina is an understatement. We were often the first ones at a restaurant at 9pm. Most days we ended up making lunch our main meal, and then have some bar snacks with our drinks in the evening, as we did on the night we arrived in Buenos Aires. Picadas are generally served on a rustic wooden board, and can be made up of a variety of delicacies such as cheeses, cured meats, olives, nuts...the sky is the limit, really.

The ingredients on the board pictured were all smoked, an excellent complement to an earthy Malbec. It came with wonderful, fresh rolls, and baba ganoush, an inspired addition. Did I mention that this picada for two, on special with an enjoyable table wine, came to less than U$15 in one of Mendoza's posh districts near the Park Hyatt?

The influence of the traditions of Italian antipasto, Spanish tapas and French making-a-meal-out-of-delicious-nibbly-things is clear. These foods go with wine naturally, each item interplaying with the wine in it's own way. This is what pairing should be: spontaneous, casual and integral to enjoying both the food and wine, not over-analyzed and pretentious (though sometimes I do like over-analyzing it myself!) I love eating this way. It feels so civilized.

Every bar we went to brought you a salty snack: peanuts, potato chips or palitos (cracker sticks). No one would presume to ask you to enjoy a drink without something to graze on.

Now, I have a confession to make: Argentina is a place you go to for excellent, reasonably-priced red wines, but it was so hot for most of time that we were there, the local beer (the malty Quilmes in most of the country and our favorite beer of the trip, the crisper Andes in Mendoza) was more refreshing. I also understood why my Oma speaks so nostalgically about Campari & soda (served in a siphon), for which I've inherited her affinity.

We still drank our fair share of wine as well. 

1 comment:

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

What a generous serving indeed! I've never heard of these before but they do sound scrumptious and a great accompaniment to wine :)