When most people think about Christmas they think about cold climates and warm food but should you find yourself in Argentina during the holiday season you will experience a much different atmosphere.
As you probably already know when it is winter for us here in the Northern Hemisphere it is summer for those in South America and their winter cuisine reflects that fact. The Argentines have a very unique tradition when it comes to Christmas meals. They do not eat roasted turkey and ham like we do in the states.
Sitting around the dinner table for an Argentine Christmas meal, you are sure to see slices of meat topped with a whitish cream being consumed. Vitel Thone is one of the most popular and traditional dishes for Christmas Eve in Argentina and it is a dish that is very unique.
First of all it has its roots in Italy. As you also probably already know Argentina has a very strong German and Italian influence and Vitel Thone definitely comes from the old country. Essentially it is a dish composed of sliced veal and topped with a sauce made of mayonnaise, anchovies and tuna.
The veal is roasted in a large ceramic pot and thrown in with quarters of onions and large slices of carrots. Water is also added for steaming. You cook this mixture for about three hours and then the veal is ready to be sliced.
The sauce is a mixture of onion, anchovies, milk cream and lots of mayonnaise. Tuna is traditionally added to the sauce but some leave it out depending on individual tastes. Once you have the veal cooked and sliced and the sauce whisked, preparation is relatively simple. Just arrange the slices on a plate and evenly spread the sauce over the flanks of meat and enjoy.
Christmas Foods in Argentina – Cool Foods for a Hot Climate
This is where Christmas foods in Argentina really start to differ from what we perceive to be typical of holiday foods. Since it is so hot during Christmas in Argentina, Argentine Christmas foods include plenty of cold served dishes for the sake of refreshment.
Waldorf salad which is essentially a mixture of walnuts, apples, celery and peanuts in mayonnaise and served atop lettuce leaves is a common site for Argentine Christmas meals. It is also common to see cold sandwiches served as part of the complete Argentine Christmas meal.
What holiday gathering would be complete without a drink? In Argentina the libation of choice for Christmas is Anana Fizz which is a sparkling mixture of cider and pineapple juice. Of course Argentina makes some of the finest wines in the world so expect to see the vino flowing around the dinner table as well.
The Argentine Christmas meal is topped off with a variety of sweets that include pan dulce or sweet bread that is baked with dried fruit. Nougat is also popular in the hot Argentine climate and is shared during the holiday season. Perhaps the most popular brand of nougat candy in Argentina is Mantecol so you can find it in any Argentine grocery store.
It seems that grilling is an year-round thing in Argentina so don’t be surprised if you see the parrillada, or grill all fired up and topped with meats like pig and chicken. You can read a whole lot more about South American Christmas foods here. Eat, read and enjoy!