Monday, June 04, 2007

sauces of Buenos Aires


Aderezos
I thought i would be writing more in this blog about design and art and projects and creativity, but it turns out I am too obsessed with food. Hopefully I'll make more entries about visual things in the near future. Meanwhile, living in a foreign country has made me realize how much my life revolves around SAUCES.
There is a limited range of sauces available here. They do sell ketchup in grocery stores, but it is not reliably available in restaurants, even ones that serve hamburgers and french fries. At first, I was puzzled to see 4"x6" pocketbook-sized ketchup pouches for sale at the grocery store, but now I realize, due to the lack of ketchup in restaurants, this is for Americans and other ketchup addicts to carry around at all times in case of a french fry emergency.
Salad dressing is a bottle of vinegar or lemon juice and a bottle of olive oil and a salt-shaker. Everyone here can dress their own salads! It seems incredibly sophisticated and civilized, but I can never seem to get my oil/vinegar balance quite right and I do miss the wide variety of creamy options available back home. I saw a bottle of Newman's Own creamy ranch salad dressing at the Jumbo Almagro mega-supermarket, but it cost $18 pesos which is ridiculous because $18 could buy you at least 3 salads, complete with oil & vinegar, in a restaurant.
Salsa Golf is a gluey, bright-orange-pink creamy sauce, vaguely simlar to a mixture of ketchup plus mayonnaise, or more like a very thick Thousand Island dressing without the pickle chunks. People eat this on raw vegetables, sandwiches, fries, whatever. It's not a bad stand-in if you're really missing some ketchup, and it's got a nice tangy sweet flavor though the consistency is kind of thick and gluey. If I had to choose one sauce to be The Sauce of Buenos Aires (like the state bird or national anthem), it might be Salsa Golf. Wikipedia offers a plausible story about the origins of the sauce with Nobel Prize-winning chemist Luis Federico Leloir.
hot sauce is hard to find. Most restaurants will bring you something they call "salsa picante" if you ask for it, but it's not hot!! even at the mexican restaurant, the hot sauce was not hot at all. If you're willing to pay a high price, you can buy tabasco sauce from the import section of a big grocery store.
Chimichurri is a delicious mixture of chopped parsely, oregano, garlic, onions, peppers, oil and vinegar! It's primarily used for steaks and sandwiches or spreading on bread. It can range from soupy to thick, sweet to spicy.
Mayonnaise is everywhere! I noticed the same thing in Mexico, perhaps this common to all of Latin America? There is a huge mayonnaise section in the grocery store, they sell it in giant vats (or in big squishy foil pouches), and it is served quite generously in all kinds of circumstances. Last week I ordered an "Ensalada Gregory" which was a bowl with vegetables on one side and on the other side, a wide quivering lake of mayonnaise, at least 2 cups of it. I stirred it all together and added salt, but then it was just salty mayonnaise soup. I do like mayonnaise a lot, but not that much. Yuck.
Mustard nuff said.
Lemon Slices are served in many situations when I would expect some sort of sauce or dressing, for instance with a breaded chicken filet. It's good!
that's pretty much it. In bigger grocery stores, you can also buy Salsa Barbacoa, Salsa Ingles (that's worcestershire sauce, sort of), and Salsa Soja (soy sauce!). The sauces/spreads I miss the most are peanut butter, hummus, sweet pickle relish, real hot sauce, maple syrup, Annie's salad dressing in a bottle.

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