By Travel Ambassador Kate from the travel blog Kate Goes Global
Argentina surprised me as a country. It was my first stop in South America and having only been to Central American countries before ( as well as Spain) I was very much expecting the culture to be more or less similar to places such as Mexico and Guatemala. I was wrong. Now, I can only speak for Mendoza, Argentina but in my opinion it was nothing like it’s Central American neighbours, instead Spain. Not only in their culture but also style of dress and dialect of the Spanish language. The food especially surprised me. I was expecting it to be hot and spicy. In short it was not.. and here’s an interesting fact- The further down South American you travel, the less that seems to be the case. Which kind of makes sense as you don't really expect hot food in cold countries…
So moving onto food and drink. Argentina is synonymous with two things.
One) Having the best steak in the world
Two) producing fantastic wine
Thankfully I feel like am justified to comment on both.
Mendoza stands at the forefront on all of this goodness. Throwing it back to February 2016 I was lucky enough to spend a couple of days there.
A little on Steak and why its deemed as the best in the world.
Cattle in Argentina is a relatively new concept. It wasn't until 1536 that Spanish conquistadors brought them along from Spain. due to the the fertile lands of Argentina the cattle population grew rapidly and the flipped seasons of the Northern and Southern hemispheres meant that beef would constantly be coming onto the market year round as it does today.
Facts: Argentinian beef is traditionally cooked over a charcoal flame. Argentina has the world’s second highest consumption of beef at a yearly consumption of 55kg per person.
And now onto wine
Argentina is the fifth largest producer of wine in the world. Originally producers had been more interested in quantity than quality and until the early 1990’s they produced more wine than any other country outside of Europe. However as production costs reduced a greater care could be handed into the production and to the flavours and wine tourism boomed in Argentina.
Mendoza is responsible for two thirds of the countries wine production and this is due to two main causes. Firstly- Climate. Mendoza has a fairly continental climate and semi-arid ( almost desert-esque conditions). It receives four distinct seasons each year. Apparently this is ideal for grapes.. Furthermore, mountain rivers such as The Desaguadero and the Atuel provide a plentiful supply of glacial water from the Andes keeping grape growth at optimum levels. In addition to all this water- as early as the 16th century several boreholes were built to provide the equivalent of two extra rivers to the region helping to sustain moisture in the semi arid desert.
By 1910 the vineyards of Mendoza had grown from totalling 1000 ha to 45000 ha. They surpassed those of its Chilean neighbours and had a throughly traditional yet modern method of production. Thus making Argentina the leading wine producer in South America and is probably most famous for its Malbec. However, it is important to note that in 1910 over eighty percent of Argentine Vineyards were planted with French Stock meaning that Argentine Malbec is actually French… Apologies to the ‘New World’ but you stole this from France.
Fact: World Malbec Day is April 17th … but that doesn't mean you can’t have a glass before!