Friday, December 14, 2012

Vegan in Argentina: Ingredients for Cooking

As most of you probably already know, we eat almost completely vegan in San Francisco, a plant-food-lover's paradise. But as we travel, things won't be so easy, and we'll try to record our successes and failures here, as a reference point for others to combat cultural stereotypes like the one I was bombarded with when I first visited Buenos Aires, "you can't be vegetarian in Argentina! All they eat is meat!", or as a warning to pack your own snacks if it really is that difficult.

In our first few days here in Quilmes, a Buenos Aires suburb, we've done pretty well both at home and going out, save for trace dairy in premade pastas. It definitely helps that we're already familiar with the food options available so we can suggest a variety of vegan dishes everyone can enjoy (not just salad!). Yesterday we went to both a regular supermarket and a dietetica, a small nutrition store specializing in healthful ingredients and sometimes food-based medicine common here. In our past experience it has ranged from not too difficult to find most non- and low-processed vegan ingredients in Buenos Aires and nearby, to nearly impossible as you get farther away in the Argentine countryside; we definitely ate cheese pizza in Mendoza when times got tough. Fortunately we were in luck, finding raw cashews (expensive but available), tofu that happened to be organic and sprouted so it's extra-firm (find of the day!), and even a powdered soy milk mixture. Almost all of these ingredients were produced locally in Argentina, since imports have been increasingly restricted.

We are often happy to eat just vegetables without investing a lot of cooking time, but here it can get boring quickly due to the standard diet in Argentina-- pizza, pasta, meat, and vegetables, without spices and with everything cooked until it's soft and mixed together. Although there is certainly great food to be had, the variety is lacking.

Today we are making food for a vegan meal Argentines will like (we hope!!):

Plant burgers on whole wheat buns with soft cheese, tomato, lettuce, and avocado
White and sweet potato fries

The fries we make a lot at home, just by slicing potatoes lengthwise, giving them a quick dip on a plate or shallow bowl of oil, salt, pepper, and any other seasoning, and baking while we make the rest of the meal. The linked burger recipes we are trying for the first time but they seem to be working well so far. The cupcakes have been big winners at home so we're hoping they'll work their magic here also.

We'll update after the meal with the reaction.

2 comments:

  1. This is so interesting! I'll definitely be referring to your posts before future travels and those recipes are awesome. Also glad to hear your trip is off to a great start :)

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  2. Thanks Siri! You should try the cupcakes, seriously so good! :)

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