northwest argentina roundup

Here’s a few of the foods we had the pleasure of sampling as we headed up up up to the Bolivian border.

Andean salad appeared on one menu and looked interesting, so we ordered it. Goat cheese, corn, potatoes, and onions with a sprinkle of pepper on top sounds pretty simple, and it is, but it makes a rather nice salad. The corn was a little dry – fresh, sweet corn would’ve done the trick much better. I loved the goat cheese. Loved it.

Soups also came up for the first time in this country – Argentina is not a soup region, the exception being up here. We tried locro in Salta – it wasn’t a new taste to us, with a lot of places in Buenos Aires serving it, especially in the winter. We had to have it where it came from, though. It was first made from the leftover parts – bony meat, tripe, etc. along with beans. We had also had it Tucumán and enjoyed it there as well as here. Nowadays, the meat is generally better, though in Tucumán we had it in a market and there was tripe in it. Still one of the best I had.

We also had quinoa soup and peanut soup in Jujuy, both of which were less than satisfying. The quinoa soup was just a broth with quinoa in it – we had much better creamy quinoa soups with potatoes and greens in Bolivia and Peru. The peanut soup was good, but not great. It was full of chunks of peanuts. It’s something I would experiment with, but wouldn’t use this one – again, had better versions in Bolivia, thicker with more stuff. (Quinoa on the left, peanut on the right.)

What post on the NW would be complete without a note on tamales and humitas? Especially since humitas are possibly Christine’s favourite food in South America so far. Both have a corn base and both are cooked inside corn husks, usually boiled (though we saw baked humitas in Bolivia, which gave them a different taste). Tamales are spiced meat surrounded by corn mush/polenta while humitas (or humintas, as they are known in Bolivia) are a polenta and egg mixture. Hot when you get them, the smells greet you and your stomach rumbles as you open up the wrappers. In the picture, the humita is on the left and the tamale is on the right.

Oh, and llama! We ate llama! And it’s my new favourite meat! So full of flavour (apparently because it’s so well marbled), it didn’t look like much when it appeared. It doesn’t have the juicy huge appearance of beef or even a pork chop. Every time I had it it looked pretty thin, but I soon learned not to judge a book by its cover. Every bite was full of savoury goodness. I can’t recommend trying llama meat enough if you ever get the chance. I wish I had some right now…

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