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A Lotta Empanadas

Unlike my prior expectations, Argentina’s food is very dissimilar to Latin American countries in Central America. I was expecting rice and beans to be a staple, as it is in Costa Rica and Mexico; however, this expectation was quickly thwarted upon my arrival. Finding Mexican food is rare, for very few restaurants offer traditional Mexican food. In Buenos Aires, and the rest of Argentina, most food options stem from an Italian influence. Every few blocks, especially in the cuisine rich neighborhood where I live, I see a restaurant that sells pizza or different kinds of pasta. For the first time, I was able to try gnocchi, an Italian dish that mixes the texture of pasta with potatoes; this was easily one of the best meals I had ever had, and it cost around $6 for the plate of gnocchi in a nice restaurant. Ordering pizza was an interesting task, for many of the toppings were Spanish words that I had never seen before. After browsing the menu for a few minutes, my friends and I just asked the waitress for something with meat, and boy did she deliver. The pizza dish was absolutely covered in various chopped meats, proving to be one of the better pizza dishes I’ve tried.

In addition to Italian foods, meat-related restaurants are very popular in Buenos Aires. With a great terrain for razing cattle, Buenos Aires is known to have some of the best steaks in the world. After trying a few different beef options, I can confirm this belief of the steaks being of superior quality. The best part is is that they cost less than any high-quality steak in the United States. They can be bought at a restaurant called a parrilla, which can be found even more often than Italian restaurants. Many times, Italian food and different meats are in the same restaurant, permitting combinations of the two!

 We ordered a parrillada completa, and this was one
of a few rounds of excellent beef. Finishing a parrillada
completa proved to be an impossible task.

If there is anything more common than steak and Italian food, it's empanadas. Empanadas can be found just about anywhere. They are about the size of a small potato, and each one comes with pizza crust breading on the outside. On the inside, one can order a plethora of options. Of the empanadas I’ve eaten, I can remember the following flavors: ham and cheese; ham, tomato and cheese; beef; spicy beef; chicken; bleu cheese; tomato and cheese; pepperoni; and spinach. There’s a flavor for everyone! A few of my friends and I liked empanadas so much that when we first arrived to Buenos Aires, we ordered empanadas from the same place five days in a row. Although that may sound gross and/or unhealthy, it was worth every bite. Empanadas can be found everywhere, from specialty empanada restaurant to bakery shops. They can be well cooked at a specialty restaurant to go, or they might be microwaved if you need something quick. With empanadas, Italian food and beef, becoming accustomed to food in Buenos Aires was very easy.
 These are the empanadas at my go-to place.
They also serve pizza, all cooked in a fire oven.

Eric Straka is the Fall 2015 MOJO Blogger in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is currently a Junior at the University of San Diego

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