In Buenos Aires, fads and politicians may come and go, but coffee and meat are here to stay. In a city where nothing makes perfect sense, one can always rely on a good cup of joe and a juicy cut of carne. Another reliable Buenos Aires feature is the use of slang, which goes hand-in-hand with these aforementioned delicacies. Here, I offer a crash-course in ordering café and carne so you make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.
With café, you can’t go wrong. But while ordering carne , you should definitely know whether you are ordering a N.Y. Strip or grilled intestines, or as I like to call them, “Raviolis a la the cow’s last supper.”
For porteños , tomando un café (having a coffee) alone or with friends is as traditional as a siesta in Spain. It’s a time to gossip, build relationships and eat croissants called medialunas (half-moons). Most of the coffee in Buenos Aires comes from Brazil and until the recent addition of Starbucks to the city, iced-coffee and teas were unheard of.
|I would like to have …||Me gustaría tomar …||May goose-ta-rhia tow-mar|
|Single espresso shot||Un Café||Oon Cah-fay|
|Single espresso with a drop of warm milk||Un Cortado||Oon Core-ta-doh|
|Cup of ½ coffee ½ milk||Un Café con leche||Oon Cah-fay cohn lay-chay|
|Warm milk with a ‘tear drop’ of coffee||Una Lágrima||Oon-ah Lah-gree-mah|
|Tea||Un Té||Oon Tay|
There is nothing more sacred in Argentina than the asado . This is a traditional weekend outdoor grilling event where impatient porteños will easily wait around for hours as the asador (grill master) prepares the feast. The asador is generally the man of the house and will receive a hearty applause from the group once the food is ready. Here are the juicy details on ordering meat in Argentina:
|I want…||Yo quiero…||Show key-ero…|
|Rack of ribs||Tira de asado||Tee-rah day ah-sa-doh|
|Rib steak||Bife de costilla||Bee-fay day kohs-tee-sha|
|Sirloin steak||Bife de chorizo||Bee-fay day chor-ee-zoh|
|Tenderloin/Filet Mignon||Bife de lomo / Lomo||Bee-fay day low-moe|
|Typical sauce/ marinade||Chimichurri||Chee-mee-choo-ree|
When ordering steak, these are your temperature options:
|Medium rare (juicy)||Jugoso||Who-go-so|
|Medium||A punto||Ah- poon-toe|
|Well-done||Bien cocido||Bee-yen co-see-doh|
Take note: when ordering coffee I suggested saying, “I would like…” In contrast, when ordering meat you should probably use, “I want…” The reasoning behind this is that coffee is usually ordered at a sit-down café where a waiter will take your order and politeness is key. However, when it comes to meat, unless you are in a fancy restaurant, the asador is more like a short-order cook and just wants to hear the key words. Always be polite, but don’t try to impress an asador with proper pronouns or complicated ordering jargon. Be cool.
Warning: porteños often have advice for you as to what you should eat and you may not have the chance to decide for yourself. Ask any foreigner who has been here long enough to experience the asado and they will surely have a story of how they were kindly pressured into trying (eating a whole) blood sausage. Welcome to initiation, I suggest you grin, chew quickly and have a glass of wine nearby to wash it down.