Argentine Christmas Traditions
We asked community leaders of various ethnic heritages to share some holiday traditions of their culture. Maria Paula Bozoklian shared the following which was written by Lucio García Carluccio.
Each country has its own set of particular religious customs and Argentina is not an exception. Gathering together with family and friends during the Christmas - is one such sacred tradition. Some say that Argentinians "live to eat", and I can personally assure you that among other things - this one, is one of the most truthful!
Let me clarify - we normally set up our Christmas tree and fill it up with beautiful ornaments, annually on December 8th. And as you imagine - we would then sit down to eat, but as if we were… in the Winter time! We have copied these customs from the Northern hemisphere, despite us having some of the highest weather temperatures at this time of the year!
So without further delay, let me share some of the tastiest dishes that we, Argentinians, like to serve around Christmas:
Christmas decorations in front of the Obelisk in Buenos Aires
This is the main national specialty. The recipe's meat usually comes from a cow, but we also like to use pork or a piglet (we call it "lechón"), lamb or chicken. The meat would normally be roasted outdoors, on a grill. The main seasoning is called "chimichurri" and it contains garlic, parsley, chili pepper, oregano, pepper, vinegar, water and oil. And, of course, bread would never be left out of the company.
This is a thin slice of beef, known as "peceto", commonly seasoned with celery, bay leaf, anchovies, tuna, milk cream, mustard, mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, pepper and garlic.
Fiambre "Primavera" or Torre de Panqueques
This dish looks very similar to a layered pancake cake, though it's made with a lot of… mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, chicken, ham, cheese, (not hot) red pepper and olives.
The dough here is similar to that of a sponge cake. Though it includes cheese, avocado, boiled eggs, non-spicy peppers, tomatoes, lettuce and tuna, all wrapped in mayonnaise.
These boiled eggs would be carefully cut in half, avoiding damaging the whites. The yolks would be then mixed with meat paté and mayonnaise, and garnished with olives.
Vinaigrette / "Escabeche"
The vinaigrette is a type of sauce characterized by its acid content. It's usually vinegar or a lemon juice plus oil, seasoned with different spices. The escabeches are vegetables or different meat bites, which were marinated for a long time in the vinaigrette.
The Russian Salad
Yes, you read that right - the Russian! The salad normally consists of potatoes, carrots, peas, boiled eggs, and some other boiled vegetables. It's usually served cold and is covered with a thick layer of mayonnaise.
After the roasted meat, this salad would be commonly served as a dessert. It's made of small chunks of fruits, mixed in a large container with water, sugar and juice from the same fruits (plus a bit of lemon juice to preserve it better). It can have apples, oranges, pears, bananas, pineapples, strawberries, cherries, or peaches. Sometimes it would also be accompanied with ice cream.
A Frozen Cake
There are people who prefer dough on all occasions. This is a biscuit-style cake, made with different layers of ice cream.
Mantecol and garrapiñadas
To finish the evening, Argentinians would usually serve mantecol, which is similar to peanut butter, though it's made in a solid bar form, as well as garrapiñadas, the candied almonds.
It's usually served as an appetizer, right before "asado". These are the salty cheeses served with pork "chorizos" or sausages (the latter would be dried for months prior to intake) and bread, of course.
There are a lot of Italian descendants here, hence why Argentinians love to eat numerous pastas with different sauces, though with a lot of grated salted cheese. The pizzas too, of course, however we like them… cold!
Guiso/EstofadoAs history would have it, our country was mainly settled by Spanish immigrants. That's why we have this dish. It's a kind of paella though with cow meat instead of fish. And there actually two versions: Guiso which uses pasta and rice, and Estofado which contains vegetables. They're both mixed with tomato juice.
I hope you enjoyed these delicious dishes from my beloved homeland, Argentina. Merry Christmas to all!
Nativity scene in Buenos Aires (1924)
Back to Ethnic Holiday Traditions
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