Argentina if famous for its cattle and has a long tradition of including plenty of beef in the cuisine. In 2007, the average annual consumtion of beef was almost 68 kg per capita, wich is actually a significant decrease from the 19th century when the annual figure was an astonishing 180 kg per capita. Despite this decrease, modern day Argentina has one of the highest consumption of red meat per capita in the whole world.
The argentinians like to prepare their meat over fire. A typical Argentinian asado (barbeque) will often include several different cuts of beef, as well as pork, chicken, blood sausages and other sausages, and chitterlings from cow and pig. Lechecillas are also popular, i.e. grilled thymus and pancreas.
Pizza and various pasta dishes are eaten throughout Argentina, chiefly due to a substantial Italian immigration in the 19th century. Other examples of foods that are popular in Argentina are empanadas, humita and locro. Locro, known as ruqru in Quechuan languages, is a thick stew associated with the Andes. In Argentina, locro spread from the Cuyo region to the rest of the country and the dish is nowadays an essential part of the May 25 celebration, when Argentinians commemorate the May Revolution of 1810. Traditional locro is made from a type of potato called papa chola, which can be difficult to obtain outside its native region.
Although a majority of the Argentinian population live within the temperate zoon, Argentina is never the less a country famous for its exceptional climate diversity. This elongated nation stretches from subpolar in the south to subtropical in the south. This has of course had an impact on local food cultivation and eating habits, especially before the advent of modern logistics and food preservation methods. Percepitation is uneveanly spread throughout the country, with the driest part of Patagonia getting an everage of 150 millimeters of rain per year, while the wettest part of Patagonia recieves more than 2,000 millimeters of rain in the same time period.
Argentia is often described as a country of immigrants, and during the 1800s only the United States recieved more immigrants than Argentina. Approximately 6.6 million immigrants arrived to Argentina in 1850 – 1955 and this naturally had a large impact on food habits in the country, especially since it was a rather thinly populated country before this immigration took place. As mentioned above, Italian immigrants helped make pizza and pasta dishes a common sight on Argentine tables, but many other migrant groups have contributed to the Argentinian cusine as well. Italian, Spanish, Russian, French and German immigrants are all just a few examples of immigrant groups that have had a majort impact on Argentinian food and eating habits. Argentina also has the largest Jewish population in all of Latin America and you can find a lot of interesting Jewish-Argentine dishes here.
In precolumbian times, a vast array of different indigenous communities lived in what is now Argentina. They were not unified and each society had its own language, cultural practises, and so on. In the 1400s and early 1500s, northwestern Argentina was a part of the Inca Empire. During the colonial era, as well as afterwards, indigenous communities were supressed by Old World immigrants and much knowledge about the various traditional cuisines were lost. There was also a strong pressure for indigenous families to assimilate into European-Argentinian culture rather than preserve their own food cultures. We do know that some of the precolumbian indigenous peoples were hunter-gatherers while others relied chiefly on farmning. Some communities to the south and northwest cultivated sweet potatoes, squash and melons – produce that is still popular in Argentina today. Examples of indigenous groups that have made an impact on modern-day Argentinian cousine are those included in the umbrella terms Quechua, Guarani and Mapuche.
Until the early 1800s, immigration to Argentina was comparatively small and consisted chiefly of Spaniards and African slaves. It wasn’t until after the Independence of Argentina in 1816 that the huge immigration wave started. A majority of these immigrants to Argentina came from Europe or from Arabian parts of North Africa and the Middle East, but Argentina also recieved substantial immigration from Japan. African slaves and their descendants once made up about 1/3 of the Argentinian population, but they were decimated by war and disease in the 1800s. Today, only a fraction of the Argentinian population is black.
In the late 20th century and early 21st century, there has been an substantial influx of immigrants to Argentina from other Latinamerican countries and the Caribbean, as well as from more far away locations such as South Korea and China, each group bringing with them their own cusine and adapting it to Argentinian conditions.