I realize I have talked some big talk about loving food on here, but there is little content dedicated to food. How that’s possible, I have no idea. It’s not fair – to me, to you – to the food!
I think everyone’s first reaction to the food here (aside from how amazing the beef is – because everyone knows that) is – “it’s so hard to eat healthy here.” Yup, those very words came out of not only mine, but every other extranjero’s mouth. At a glance this attitude is easy to understand, you have heladerias every 10 feet, and restaurant menus seem to mainly consist of – carne, queso, empanadas, pizza, and or pasta.
Eating here can also be an adjustment as the food isn’t that diverse, it’s delicious, yeah, but diverse? No. Argentine cuisine is infamous for not using spices and don’t even think about getting anything picante (spicy), I am serious. For a Mexican girl like me, this has been difficult. And due to the ridiculous restrictions on imported goods, it can be hard to find your favorite chili sauces, herbs, spices etc. And when you do find them, they are insanely overpriced.
Now, the majority of my money goes to food, in my opinion, it’s money well spent, and while I tend to eat out often (shh) I have to say that since moving here I have seriously stepped up my cooking game! I have always loved to bake, but cooking is a different breed. I am a slight control freak, and with cooking you to have to learn to let go. But, the teacher of desire has pushed me to take a step back, relax, and let go en la cocina. I I have noticed that in cooking here, I have really cut back on carbs, processed foods and sugar. OK, not sugar. I’m sorry the helado is too good.
The key to cooking, and eating, here is knowing where to go. Once you know what is going on when it comes to where to shop and what to ask for etc. you will find that there is a lot of room to be creative, and yes, healthy here. Thanks to the verdulerias on every block you can count on fresh seasonal produce -WINN! Some neighborhoods offer a better selection than others and if you can find one owned by Bolivians, you are in luck, as they always have cilantro and jalapenos.
I always avoid “the chino”, Asain owned supermercados (fyi all Asians are referred to as “Chino” here – just the way it is, ask my Vietnamese friend). Why? Their selections are limited and often overpriced. On that note, if you want to splurge on imported goods, Barrio Chino, albeit far, is your one stop shop for imported goods. But, it’s not your only option. There is a great little health food store off of Anchorena and Santa Fe that carries Sriracha, Nutella, and yes peanut butter! They also carry quinoa and other health items. There is another place near Carranza and Caballido (think Palermo Hollywood) that sells quinoa, coconut milk, popcorn kernels and other random delights. Also, there is a huge Coto (think Alberston’s) in Abasto that pretty much has everything you might need – and they deliver – just saying.
All this said, I still avoid buying and cooking fish. Back home, I cooked fish all the time, but here – I just can’t trust it. I know there are good places to buy fish here but . .. I can’t do it. But, ughhh how I miss it. Also, keep in mind – if you are only here for a short time – 6 months and under – AVOID sushi. You will just be disappointed. Everything is stuffed with cream cheese and the tuna, the tuna, is canned tuna. There are places that sell “red tuna” but the price isn’t worth it. Yes, you might cry. But, who needs sushi when you can order asado de tira, or bife de chorizo?! “Healthy eating”, vegetarianism etc are starting to catch on here and as a result there are some great restaurants to feed your healthy appetite. They may be a little more expensive, but then again, everything is expensive here – so if you can, go for it!
Long story short, it’s possible to eat well and healthy here, it just takes time to figure it out, and that is half the fun right?! So, get out there and get cooking! Buen provecho!
**I am unable to load images for a minute, until I purchase a new cord or laptop. Somehow I imagine the cord will come first ;). Until then, allow the random ones I will be uploading :D.