Most Argentinians eat four meals each day. The diet may differ in different
regions. Desayuno (breakfast) is a light meal of rolls and jam with coffee. For almuerzo (lunch), many
Argentinians eat meat and vegetables or salads. After work but before dinner, people go to confiterías
(cafés) to drink espresso and eat picadas, small dishes of cheese, mussels, salami, anchovies, olives and
peanuts. Cena (dinner) in the evening is the largest meal of the day and almost always includes beef.
Did you know?
The confiterías (cafés) of Buenos Aires play an important role in social, business and cultural life. In confiterías people meet friends and business associates, workers take coffee breaks, retired people play dominoes, and theatregoers have coffee after a show. Certain confiterías have been associated with particular artistic, literary, political and student groups.
The tradition of eating beef began in the 19th century, when there were thousands of cattle in the Pampas
region. Beef was roasted on a spit on an open fire. When it was done, people sliced off chunks. They ate by holding
the end of a chunk in their mouths and cutting off the rest with a knife.
Today, beef is served in many ways. Bife a caballo (beef on horseback) is steak topped with an egg. Parrillada
is blood sausage, ribs and other meat grilled together. Churrasco is grilled steak and milanesa is deep-fried
breaded beef. It is common for Argentinians to socialize over an asado, beef roast barbecued over an open fire. Many
restaurants offer asado con cuero, whole beef roasted complete with hide and hair.
Yerba mate is a popular traditional drink, similar to tea. There are several ways of drinking yerba mate. The most
traditional is mate cebado. Hot water is poured over the leaves of the yerba plant
(an evergreen shrub related to holly) in a mate (gourd), which is often decorated with silver. When
the gourd is filled with water, the leaves expand and fill the mate. People drink through a
bombilla (straw with a strainer) made of silver.