I have eaten more beef in the last four weeks than in the last four years… But, when in Rome. Or actually when in Argentina. Everyone in this country seems to eat beef. About 135 pounds a year. Each. “If there isn’t meat, it isn’t really a meal”.
The Spanish Conquistadors brought cows to Argentina during the 1500’s. In the days before refrigeration storing the meat was a challenge. Extra cows were let loose on the pampas (grasslands). This perfect environment provided lots of feed; cows multiplied like crazy. Hunting wild cows became part of gaucho culture. And so did barbeque.
Argentina is a challenging place to be a vegetarian, though every veg we had was amazing. If you tell a waiter you don’t feel like meat you are quickly told not the worry… they also have pork or chicken or goat or llama. It was all very tasty. But beef is where the chefs put their energy. Beef is butchered differently than in North America so it took us a couple days to figure out which cuts we liked. Its usually grilled. Our favorites were Chorizo (not the sausage, though that is also widely served) which is similar to a rib eye, and Lomo that is basically tenderloin.
Even on days we skipped beef, cow and cow products dominate the table. We found cheese on everything… sometimes grilled in large slabs and sprinkled with a little salt as an appetizer, sometimes melted on sausages or served with fish. And always grated or mixed in huge quantities on every salad. Cowhides served as tablecloths and chair covers. The butter is the best I have every tasted (sorry France), creamy and sweet. I indulged at every meal.
As for dessert… well, dulce de leche of course. Sweetened milk slowly heated until it becomes a soft caramel then used to stuff crepes, fill cookies and smother ice cream.
No wonder I’m feeling a bit overfed.