Consulado General y Centro de Promoción en Shanghai


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As a major food producer, Argentina is now hoping to upgrade its gastronomic tourism by matching places, cultures, landscapes and activities with new senses and flavors along a "gastronomic route" designed to introduce foods from six geographical regions (North, Patagonia, Cuyo, Litoral, Cordoba and Buenos Aires).

The Global Times recently sat down with María Virginia Yapur, a Shanghai-based consul of Argentina in charge of tourism, to learn about Argentine gastronomy, its rich history and its long traditions.

GT: Can you introduce some highlights of the Gastronomic Route?

Yapur: Argentina is one of the largest wine-producing countries in the world and has a large number of grape-growing productions spreading from north to south cultivated at different altitudes and soils. The Wine Route starts from the North Region, continues to Cuyo and enters into Patagonia. Tourists can try the award-winning Malbec and Torrontés wines and others like Cabernet Sauvignon, Bonarda, Syrah, Tempranillo, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Tannat and Chardonnay.

Tourists can also enjoy exclusive tours visiting wine museums and wineries while enjoying a stay at boutiques hotels. For those who are searching for a more personalized experience, there are tailor-made tours that can be arranged to meet the highest expectations, like relaxing at a wine spa.

For the Olive Oil tour in Cuyo Region, people can discover the amazing taste of green and black olives and visit oil production centers. On the Patagonic Lamb Tour, tourists can try some exquisite lamb meat. Those animals are raised and fed on the Patagonian steppe, where the pastures help get a tenderness that is highly appreciated.

Along with the black hake (merluza negra) and the Centolla (King Crab), which needs to be fished at more than 1,000 meters below deep sea, Patagonic Lamb is a sophisticated dish designed to be eaten with a premium wine like Merlot or Pinot Noir or an artisanal Patagonian beer while enjoying a fantastic view of the Beagle Channel.

GT: What flavors do Argentina people like? What are the regional characteristics of Argentina food?

Yapur: Barbecue along with empanadas (stuffed bread) are very popular dishes among the Argentinean people that deserve to be tasted by Chinese tourists who are looking for an amazing and regional gastronomic experience. Our BBQ is known as asado, a national symbol, and is mainly made from a mix of beef cuts including grilled vegetables that are slowly cooked to ensure the correct tenderness of the meat.

Empanadas are a cuisine masterpiece that comes mainly from the North Region, and is one of the most eaten Argentinean dishes around the whole country. Looking like a big dumpling, it can be filled up with cow, pork or chicken meat and even with corn, ham and cheese. It can be oven-cooked or fried. The Empanada gastronomic route passes through Tucumán and Salta and invites tourists to visit more than 50 restaurants along the Calchaquí Valleys and even to attend the National Festival dedicated to the Empanada in Famaillá city (Tucumán province) while enjoying natural landscapes, blue skies, historic places and traditional neighborhoods.

GT: Any relationship between the diversity of Argentina food and its immigration history?

Yapur: The immigration in Argentina has been important. From 1880 we received a lot of people from European countries and, since the 1990s, a lot from Asian countries, mainly China. Nowadays, Argentina has a Chinese community of almost 180,000 people, many of whom are second or third generation immigrants. Due to that immigrant influence and the wide variety of ingredients offered, in Buenos Aires, for example, you can taste dishes from different origins or enjoy a gourmet dish from the refined cuisine that represents the fusion between old recipes and new tastes.

In the Patagonia Region, among the beauty of the evergreen forests and stunning lakes, you can also taste dishes that come from northern Europe immigration. For example, Swiss and German immigrants started the local tradition of exquisite chocolates, artisanal beer, cold cuts used for the picadas (varieties of cheeses, cold cuts, olives and peanuts that are served before lunch or dinner) along with Welsh immigration that introduced a delicious pastry that accompanies the teatime ceremony in Chubut province.

GT: What seasonal summer foods would you recommend to Chinese tourists?

Yapur: Argentina is the world's primary producer and consumer of yerba mate, an infusion that comes from a native tree that grows in the subtropical jungle. It is a sort of ritual for every Argentine to take mate alone or sharing it with friends. Mate can be drunk in many ways: cold and hot, sweet or sour, with herbs or citric. In the Litoral, people usually prepare a cold drink called Tereré: a mix of yerba mate and citrus juice that is drunk especially in summer due to the hot weather. In recent years, there have been many new gastronomic uses and combinations of yerba mate, such as being included for cooking products like bread and cheese, delicacies as ice cream and chocolates and drinks as beer.

River fish dishes from Litoral invite tourists to try something fresh and gourmet. The Golden Fish, the Suburí, the Boga and the Pacú are the most-wanted local species. They can be cooked at the grill just with lemon or baked or breaded. The white meat of these fishes is also rich in proteins and, of course, low fat. Lastly, for those who like treats, in Cordoba you can taste the Alfajores cordobeses, a delicacy of the province, instead of being filled up with dulce de leche, the pastry is full of fruit jam and covered with glace icing.

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