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Ordering Coffee and Meat in Buenos Aires

Madi Lang

By | October 2, 2009 | 1 comment

Meat on Asado in buenos aires argentina

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.

English Spanish Pronunciation
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:

English Spanish Pronunciation
I want… Yo quiero… Show key-ero…
Barbecue Asado Ah-sah-doh
Blood sausage Morcilla More-see-sha
Chicken Pollo Poe-show
Chop Chuleta Choo-let-ah
Skirt steak Entraña En-trah-nya
Flank Vacio Vah-see-oh
Intestine Chinchulín Cheen-choo-leen
Kid (Goat) Chivito Chee-vee-toh
Kidneys Riñones Rin-yon-ays
Lamb Cordero Cord-eroh
Liver Hígado Ee-gah-doh
Pork Cerdo Ser-doh
Rabbit Conejo Cone-ay-hoe
Rack of ribs Tira de asado Tee-rah day ah-sa-doh
Rib steak Bife de costilla Bee-fay day kohs-tee-sha
Sausage sandwich Choripan Chore-ee-pahn
Sirloin steak Bife de chorizo Bee-fay day chor-ee-zoh
Suckling pig Lechón Lay-chon
Sweetbread Molleja Moe-shay-ha
Tenderloin/Filet Mignon Bife de lomo / Lomo Bee-fay day low-moe
Tripe Mondongo Mohn-dohn-go
Typical sauce/ marinade Chimichurri Chee-mee-choo-ree
Veal Ternera Ter-neh-rah

When ordering steak, these are your temperature options:

English Spanish Pronunciation
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.

Madi Lang
LPBA Staff

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  1. Taj

    12/08/2009 - 9:48 pm

    Yeah, blood sausage sounds right up there with haggis and chitterlings. Thank's for the heads up!