Authentic Food Quest Argentina: Book Review and Author Interview
Book Review: Authentic Food Quest Argentina
Authentic Food Quest Argentina by Rosemary Kimani and Claire Rouger is a MUST READ for any foodie traveling to Argentina. But I also have a warning for you: Do not read this book at night in bed. I had to get up and fix myself a snack at least 5 times! Rosemary and Claire made my mouth water with their vivid food descriptions. When you read this book, you can almost smell the Asado sizzling on the grill, feel the flaky crust of the empeñadas on your lips and salivate over the spicy chorizo.
Contents: Authentic Food Quest Argentina
- Terroir: This chapter is like a destination guide, but for foodies. It has a list of Spanish vocabulary for food terms, food tours and describes the different specialty restaurants and shops in Argentina.
- Savor This: This part of Authentic Food Quest Argentina introduces you to over 50 Argentinian delicacies that are distinct for this country. WARNING: Do not read this chapter, when you are on a diet!!!
- Destinations: The authors share the best restaurants, specialty shops and markets that will make your foodie heart beat faster.
- Resources: From interviews with local chefs to visa regulations, this chapter is great to learn even more about the Argentinian food scene. It also gives practical travel tips for your trip to Argentina.
My 2 Cents: Authentic Food Quest Argentina
Rosemary and Claire traveled all over the country and really immersed themselves into the local food scene. They collected a wealth of insights and this book is choke full of amazing information for foodie travelers heading to Argentina.
Authentic Food Quest Argentina is not a recipe book, so if that is what you are after, look for something else. There are a handful of recipes in the book, but this book is about the food culture, the traditions and the best places to eat the most authentic Argentinian food. It is like watching No Reservations: Argentina but in book form.
As you know, I am a foodie and I love to cook dishes from other countries. Even though I currently have no definite plans to go to Argentina, I really enjoyed reading this book. I hope I can visit this amazing country soon and try some of the local dishes.
I also secretly hope that Rosemary and Claire will travel to other countries around the world and turn this book into a series!!! This could be the next big thing: Like a Lonely Planet, but for foodies! Wouldn’t that be just awesome?
Meet the Authors: Authentic Food Quest Argentina
Claire and Rosemary are co-founders of Authentic Food Quest. They aim to inspire people to travel through authentic food.
You don’t often hear about Food from South America. What made you pick Argentina as a foodie destination for your book?
It is true that we don’t hear much about the amazing food from South America, especially in the U.S. It is really unfortunate because the food is quite diverse and unique.
Our decision to focus on South America is tied to our overall project with Authentic Food Quest, which is to highlight the authentic foods in the different continents.
Argentina is a very popular destination and it is also the most visited country in South America. One of the biggest misconceptions about the food in Argentina is that it is limited to beef and Malbec wines. As we traveled throughout the country, we found the cuisine to be varied and distinctive.
Given the rich gastronomy and regional dishes combined with the popularity of Argentina, we decided to focus our first book on the delicious and authentic cuisines found in the country. Through this book, we would like foodies to know that Argentina has so much more to offer beyond beef and Malbec wines.
Tell me about your most memorable foodie experience during your travels in Argentina
One of our favorite foodie experiences was at Siete Fuegos Restaurant in Mendoza, Argentina. Siete Fuegos or “seven fires” is a Francis Mallmann restaurant at The Vines Resort & Spa.
Our visit to Siete Fuegos was to learn about the different techniques of cooking with fire, that Francis Mallmann talks about in his book Seven Fires: Grilling The Argentine Way.
At Siete Fuegos, we took a cooking class with chef Matias who explained the different open fire cooking techniques. At the same time, we prepared dinner including vegetables, empanadas, pork flank and dessert using 5 of the 7 open fire techniques.
Learning about cooking with fire was quite an eye-opening experience for us. We had no idea that something as elemental as “fire” could be so complicated to cook with. We learned very quickly that cooking with fire needs the skillful eye of a chef who is not only aware of the different fires going at the same time, but also finely attuned to the temperature of each technique. With this type of cooking, the raw product is key. The ingredients are not altered much and each cooking with fire technique brings out a different flavor.
This simple, yet powerful approach that strips down cooking to the naked product and the elemental fire was really a unique and unusual experience.
What are the top 5 most Argentinian dishes I should try, if I go to Argentina?
Argentina is most famous for it’s beef and Malbec wines. Your trip to Argentina should absolutely include sampling these local delights. For a broader exposure to delicious and authentic Argentine cuisine, we would encourage you not to miss the following five dishes.
Empanadas: Argentina empanadas are said to be among the best in the world. What makes them so unique is that each region has its own unique style. So beloved are empanadas in Argentina that there is even a National Empanada Festival. This is a delicious way to travel through the country.
Cazuela de Llama: In the Northwest region of Argentina, one of the local specialties is llama meat. Our favorite llama dish was the cazuela de llama. This is a delicious casserole of thinly sliced llama meat mixed with boiled Andean potatoes and served with a creamy sauce. Tasty and savory, this should not be missed in Argentina.
Patagonia Lamb: The Patagonia region of Argentina is famous for Patagonia Lamb or Cordero. The best Patagonia lamb is when it is cooked on a grill or parrilla. The serving sizes are generous and the taste is magnificent. If your travels take you to the region, you cannot afford to miss Patagonia lamb.
Locro: This is a dish associated with the independence of Argentina. Every 25th of May, Argentines celebrate the May Revolution in 1810 that led to the country’s independence from Spain in 1816. Locro is a hearty thick stew that comes in many variations. One popular version is Locro Pulsado. This delicious stew has beef, white beans, white corn, green onions, chorizo, paprika, cumin pepper and salt. A wonderful slice of Argentine culture that should be experienced.
Dulce de leche: You cannot miss this “national” dessert on your trip to Argentina. This sweetened milk, which is similar to caramel, is found in practically all sweets including ice cream. One of the best ways to indulge in dulce de leche is to have it in alfajores. Alfajores are two buttery cookies with a thick layer of dulce de leche in the middle. These little treats are deliciously addictive.
Are vegetarians going to starve in Argentina?
Vegetarians should not fear traveling to Argentina. In the land of beef, there are several vegetarian options. In Buenos Aires for example, you will find many vegetarian restaurants in the different neighborhoods. One popular website travelers to Argentina can also use to find vegetarian and vegan restaurants is HappyCow.
One surprising thing that we discovered in Buenos Aires are organic farmers markets that specialize in vegetarian and gluten-free products. These markets tend to be smaller and you may need to ask locals where to find them. However, the regular farmers markets do have vendors that sell vegetarian or gluten-free items.
Beyond the restaurants, vegetarians will be pleased to discover dedicated sections in grocery stores selling vegetarian and gluten-free options. These sections are found not only in Buenos Aires, but also across Argentina. In addition, there are health food stores called dietéticas where non-meat eaters can find alternatives.
Eating meat-free in Argentina is not as difficult as most people think and vegetarians can enjoy a wonderful gastronomic experience in Argentina.
Are you planning on taking us on any other Foodie adventures around the world soon?
Our mission with Authentic Food Quest is to inspire people to travel through authentic food. After discovering the authentic dishes of South America, the next continent we will be exploring is Southeast Asia, starting in October 2016.
We will start in the Philippines, then make our way through Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia. In each country we will showcase the authentic dishes and the stories behind the dishes.
Aren’t these two ladies just amazing? I can’t wait to follow along on their coming adventures. But you know what is even cooler? I will meet up with Claire and Rosemary in the Philippines and we will go out on a Foodie Discovery Tour together. I can’t wait to meet them in person and enjoy the local dishes together with them! Stay tuned for this 🙂
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