The Italian Cuisine Week ends on Sunday 30th with a great event with cooking classes and free samples at NAVE MAYOR, USINA DEL ARTE, la Boca.
Do you know that Argentineans are descendants from immigrants, mainly Italians? Actually, Argentina is the largest country with more Italians outside Italy. That came from the current migrations in war times, from 1857 to 1940. Almost anyone has an Italian relative, my dad has born in Italy. That´s why every year, during the "Italian Summer", we celebrate the Italian Cuisine Week. Mangia che ti fa bene (a common expresion that means something like eat to be well) is the theme for this year. The celebration consist in big discounts and special events at true italian restaurants in Buenos Aires. Here you will find a list of the participating restaurants
The Italian Cuisine Week ends on Sunday 30th with a great event with cooking classes and free samples at NAVE MAYOR, USINA DEL ARTE, la Boca.
I tried banana bread for the first time when moved to the US and I was amazed with its moist, sweet, cake-like texture. Easy to make, cheap and good for you. My Argentinean twist to this American classic is to serve it with dulce de leche spread ...yummy! Here is my recipe:
Ingredients - Serves 12
1 cup flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar
4 very ripe bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 9x5 loaf pan. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking soda and powder, salt. In a large bowl cream together eggs and sugar. Stir in mashed bananas, vanilla, and oil. Stir in flour mixture until just combined. Bake for about 1 hour.
Nutrition Facts: 1 Slice: 260 Calories, 38 g carbohidrates, 4.5 g protein, 10.5 g fat, 2.5g fiber, 47 mg cholesterol, 150 mg sodium.
Tips: You can add 1/2 of nuts or raisin to the batter for an extra crunch and aroma. Can be served with a chocolate bath or, like I said, dulce de leche spread.
Last weekend we went to Mar del Plata (also known as La Ciudad Feliz), a beach city 400 km (249 mi) south of Buenos Aires, over the Atlantic coast. It was a little bit chilly but great to walk around, enjoy the sea view and the food Mar del Plata has to offer. I realize that this is a great destination for foodies. From seafood to alfajores, here is what you don´t want to miss:
1) Seafood. I love fresh fish (not much all other seafood). In the Port of Mar del Plata there is a gastronomic pole where you can find lots of seafood restaurants one next to the other. Mar del Plata is one of the major fishing ports in Argentina, so fresh fish is a must. I particularly like CHICHILO. Here I tasted a free sample of algae fritters (it was very similar to spinach fritters). I had tuna empanadas and my hubby enjoyed the calamari casserole (Cazuela de calamares)
2) Alfajores. The typical Argentinean treat, made of two cookies filled with gooey dulce de leche with a chocolate or sugar bath. The best alfajores are from Mar del Plata. Now, you can find the favorite brand Havanna all over the country, in 9 countries and is available online if you are abroad.
3) Ice Cream. In Mar del Plata you can have a taste of the best ice cream in the world. Well, in Argentina ice cream is one of the best, made by Italian immigrants and their descendants. Usually, a family business. There are lots of ice cream shops over the city, but the best spots are Helados Italia y Lucciano´s (and Freddo of course, but not typically marplatense). The last one impressed me with all the best ice pops I ever had. Made with the best ingredients, chocolate and dulce de leche, strawberry, cream, etc. My daughter loved it! (and so we did)
4) Produce. It must be the closeness to the field and farms, the air, I don´t know why… but fruits and vegetables bought in Mar del Plata markets taste better. Especially vegetables like corn, potatoes (a nearby city, Balcarce, is known for been a big potato producer) and fruits like kiwi! I just find out that the fruit production reached international quality standards and that the 50% of the Argentinean kiwi is produced in Mar del Plata. The conditions of the Argentina coast are ideal for the production of this fruit, because it has characteristics similar to those of New Zealand, the leading producer of kiwifruit in the world. In this season, which began in mid-April and ended in mid-May, about 4,500 tons were harvested fruit in the area. Only part of the production is exported, because firstly seeks to meet domestic demand. In Buenos Aires city kiwi can cost around $50/kg (and sometimes they are too hard and acid) vs. $20 in Mar del Plata and they were sweeter and with an amazing tropical taste.
5) Eating out. The gastronomy in Mar del Plata has endless options. Besides seafood restaurants, I would recommend: For a nice asado La Guapa, for pasta Dei Fiori (hard to get a reservation) and Tiziano and for varied food Dos 55, a new restaurant with a very nice ambience and great food from meats to pasta.
Buenos Aires Market: a must for foodies
A lovely spring-like weather (we are in late fall now) make it ideal to spend time outside and visit another edition of Buenos Aires Market (BAM). This is a farmers market where more than 70 food producers exhibit their products over Saturday and Sunday. It is held once a month in an itinerant place in Buenos Aires City. Lots of local and regional, organic and gourmet products are available to taste (I love free samples!), to eat on the go and to buy at discounted prices. Here, my top five of BAM:
1. Food trucks. American style food trucks are now trendy in Buenos Aires. In BAM you can find gourmet food trucks like Paraje Arevalo and BA truck (with Chef Abdala delicacies like goat tagine) among others. They are great opportunities to taste fine dishes while avoiding their expensive onsite restaurants.
2. Breads. I love bread (as much as my 3 old daughter) and specially if it´s crusty artisan bread like the one from L´ epi a typical French bakery with 2 locations in Buenos Aires. There are other bread vendors in BAM, but this one was my favorite. I picked the traditional baguette, focaccia and parmesan cheese flavored bread. I´ll try pastries next time, but I´m sure they are yummy.
3. Drinks. It was unusually hot by this time of the year and I needed something fresh. There was a truck of Terma giving away free herbal lemonade. You will find lots of natural flavored waters, teas and fruit smoothies made to order. Also, there are some artisan beer vendors (place to be for most husbands)
4. Olive oil. Straight from Mendoza and La Rioja, you can buy high quality olive oil at a discounted rate. Olives and vegetables in olive oil were also at a good price. I bought some delicious artichokes hearts.
5. Papines or Andine potatoes. These are small potatoes (fingerlings) native from the Andes region, like the North of Argentina, where more than 100 kinds of potatoes and little potatoes are produced. They come in different shapes and colors (like lilac, blue, yellow, red and green) adding visual interest to any plate, with a nutty and earthy flavor.
Stay tunned for the next BAM edition.
Every May and in many countries, celiac disease associations gather efforts to increase awareness about celiac disease and to educate the public about early diagnosis and the gluten free diet, its only treatment (that has to be planned by an expert dietitian)
In Argentina, Celiac Disease Day is celebrated on May 5th
In Uruguay and Chile, Celiac Disease Day in on May 6th
In Europe is on May 16th (in Spain is on May 20th), while in the United Kindom Coeliac Disease Week is on May 11-14th.
In the US, the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, puts together lots of free resources from e-cooking books to live webinars.
Started 6 years ago by Oldways and the Mediterranean Foods Alliance, the Mediterranean Diet Month is an international campaign that promotes the foods and health benefits associated with a Mediterranean lifestyle. Known for being rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes and fish, with little red meat and with most fat being monounsaturated from olive oil and nuts, this diet also encompass a vibrant way of living. Cooking at home, enjoying family meals and being active are part of the Mediterranean lifestyle.
The Med diet is today practiced in many parts of the world. But, it’s not followed in all Mediterranean countries. For example, in some parts of France, Spain and Italy there is a high consumption of saturated fat (from butter, cheeses and cold meats). Unfortunately, modern lifestyles made the Western diet become more common in many Mediterranean regions. We all globally face the challenges of reducing the consumption of highly processed foods and maximize the intake of plant foods. That´s why dietary guidelines in most countries would agree with many aspects of the Med diet. The Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) identified the Mediterranean diet as one that Americans can follow to improve their health.
So, what are the proven benefits of the Mediterranean diet? Because it´s a dietary pattern rich in antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats, it is believed that may reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, certain cancers, diabetes, Parkinson´s disease. More specifically:
- Cardiovascular health. The Spanish study PREDIMED concludes that a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts reduced the incidence of major cardiovascular events. The results of this study are vastly present on the DGAC.
- Alzheimer prevention. It has been shown that normal individuals showing lower adherence to the Med diet had cortical thinning in the same brain regions as clinical Alzheimer disease patients. These data indicate that the Med diet may have a protective effect against brain tissue loss.
- Keeping you agile. A Spanish prospective cohort study with 1815 community-dwelling individuals concluded that an increased adherence to the Med diet was associated with decreasing risk of frailty and muscle weakness
- Increased life expectancy. As cancer and heart disease are reduced by a Med dietary pattern, there is a 20% reduced risk of death at any age.
Come on and join all the food and nutrition experts that this May will demonstrate that tasty and healthy Mediterranean-inspired meals can be enjoyed anywhere and all year long. Find resources at Oldways website and Spanish resources at Fundación Dieta Mediterranea.
National Nutrition Month® is a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day, celebrated in March 11th, also increases awareness of registered dietitian nutritionists as the indispensable providers of food and nutrition services. The campaign is full of resources that can be found in its website www.nationalnutritionmonth.org/nnm
Other countries celebrate Nutritionist or Dietitian day this March or in another dates, like in Argentina Nutritionist Day is every August 11th.
The 2015 National Nutrition Month® theme is "Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle." So, I would like to share two healthy aspects of Argentina´s food culture: family meals and simplicity:
In Argentina, we usually take the time to sit and have a meal. In the big cities, many people have lunch at work but they do share the other mealtimes with family. It has been shown that shared mealtimes makes family members feel loved, confident and happy. Also, homemade food in Argentina includes many preparations from scratch with few processed ingredients. Sharing mealtimes with your kids and involve them in the cooking process will make them have better eating habits since childhood.
Enjoying food prepared with fresh and minimally processed real ingredients is a national tradition. When you visit the supermarket you will see that there is not much variety of frozen meals or processed food boxes. Supermarkets aisles are not that overwhelming like in other parts of the world. Another example of simplicity: in Argentina the typical salad dressing is oil and vinegar (commonly olive oil and balsamic vinegar). That’s what the waiter will bring you to season your salad if you are eating out. And, don’t look for salad dressings in the supermarket, you won’t find much. Some of the typical condiments are mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup and salsa golf (an Argentinean creation that resembles Thousand Island dressing). Just make your own dressings and toppings with real ingredients and bring in simplicity to your dinner table!
Meats are also lightly seasoned with just a pinch of salt and pepper (and sometimes chimichurri). No one puts butter or other toppings on a grilled steak, there is no need. And, recently, the province of Buenos Aires banned the salt shaker from restaurant tables in an effort to combat high blood pressure. It will be available upon request, but only after the guest have tasted the food. The new restaurant trend in Argentina is to get back to basics, value regional meals and natural ingredients.
A while ago I was a dietitian (and a foodie) moving from Argentina to the U.S.,experiencing how it is to adjust to new food ingredients and another recipe system.
The end of November is approaching and Americans are getting ready for the celebration of Thanksgiving. If you are not American you may not know that it is a public holiday always celebrated the fourth Thursday of November commemorating a feast held in 1621 by the Pilgrims and the Native Americans. Even though this the most American holiday of all, other countries have adopted this celebration. For instance, U.S. Canadian neighbors celebrate Thanksgiving the second Monday of October giving thanks for a successful harvest, a tradition from European heritage. It is a statutory holiday in most jurisdictions, being optional in some Canadian provinces. Thanksgiving dishes in Canada are similar to the ones in the U.S. (roasted turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, pumpkin pie, sweet potatoes and other fall vegetables). Puerto Rico, an American territory, is another place where Thanksgiving is celebrated but with a Caribbean hint, especially in the dinner menu. Dishes with plantains like tostones (fried plantains) and mofongo (a plantain mash used as stuffing), pavochon (a slow roasted turkey), morcilla (blood sausage) and tembleque (a kind of cinnamon coated coconut custard) are part of the feast. As in the U.S., most businesses are closed, families gets together and people go shopping the next day.
Going a little more far away, I found that Thanksgiving is also celebrated in Liberia and in a remote Australian island. The commemoration in Liberia (the first Thursday of Nov) may be explained by the fact that it was a country founded by U.S. colonization. In this part of the world, settlers replaced turkey and pumpkins with more local ingredients like chicken and cassavas. The Australian territory, Norkfold Island, celebrates Thanksgiving the last Wednesday of November giving thanks to American trader Isaac Robinson. Traditional foods in this region are cold pork and chicken and pumpkin pie.
Lastly, expats and Americans that circumstantially find themselves outside the U.S. (vacations, business) have to celebrate abroad. I used to live in the U.S. Midwest and have the wonderful experience of having Thanksgiving dinner at friends’ houses. There, I´ve learn not only about the typical foods but also about values and sharing. I didn´t felt foreign. Once back to my home town, Buenos Aires (Argentina), I kind of miss this Holiday. So, every year I try to have a special meal with family at home or in a restaurant (I´m not that good at roasting turkey). The best place to celebrate Thanksgiving in Buenos Aires is Kansas Grill and Bar.
Global dietitians is a fun place to share and network between for food and nutrition professionals from around the world.
My name is Romina Barritta de Defranchi and I am a dietitian from Argentina. I love to travel and learn what food and nutrition professionals are doing abroad. For more info go to the About me section.