Six years, about 5,000 meals, over 400 restaurants and a serious case of OCFD (Obsessive Compulsive Food Disorder), I’ve seen my share of food trends come and go. Some have made a lasting impact in the BA culinary world and others crashed and burned into a gooey sea of dulce de leche. As my anniversary with Argentina approaches, it is time to take a stroll down food-memory lane, reminiscing about some favourite trends that hit the city of good airs.
From tostadas to bagels, facturas to muffins and scones, pebetes to wraps, brunch became a conjugated verb as the modern style of daytime haunt emerged. This drastic shift in café culture occurred with a trendy hybrid opening up shop, serving eggs and “bacon” for breakfast, brie sandwiches for lunch and cupcakes/cheesecake for merienda. In 2006 there was Oui Oui and in 2012 there is every salad-wrap-sandwich-bakery-café you want in the barrio.
Queso Crema with a side of Sushi
From a tiny fish roe emerging into a Godzilla-rolled monster, the “sushi” industry has exploded a big cream cheese ejaculate onto the BA food scene. The idea of eating this Japanese staple used to leave a rotten fishy taste in many mouths, “A piece of uncooked salmon, qué asco!” (But bring on kilos of cow’s blood jammed in sausage casings.) While this luxury food isn’t that new, in the past five years it’s been consumed by the masses, with over 200 restaurants and delivery services popping up, serving fusioned Phila rolls a plenty.
Chefs De Autor
A litter of young and adventurous local chefs have emerged, changing the finer dining game. It’s traditional Argentine with a modern twist, putting a playful and creative spin on porteño fair. With the help of social media outlets, these capos in the kitchen, like Leandro Cristóbal of Café San Juan, are becoming minor celebrities and have built a devout foodie following. The same path holds true for rising sommelier stars.
Move over puertas cerradas, pop ups are the new rage. Chefs are taking over restaurants, one kitchen at a time, to cook up original and exclusive menus. Casa Arévalo’s TC Gourmet was a space created to invite celebrated chefs to display their cooking skills; UNIK hosted Too Many Chefs In The Kitchen, with 12 renowned chefs in charge of one dinner event. Expat chefs are representing too: POKE at Magdalena’s Party and NOLAChef’s Mexican night at Tout le Monde. Not just limited to traditional restaurants, FUUDIS acquired fame with their nomadic food tours and markets popped up in transitory style for BA’s first Underground Market.
The BA food community has been secondlifed into a bizarro gastronomical online world. This has brought the emergence of revolutionary online ventures like Buenos Aires Delivery; delivery-only services like Quiero Bagel and La Barata del Central; consumer driven review sites Guia Oleo and Kekanto; Planeta Joy gastronomy website; and of course a plethora of irritatingly sexy bloggers who dissect every aspect of food culture. Multiply that by Facebook, whore that out by Twitter, and add an international phenomenon of 20-something self-proclaimed Foodies, and you have yourself an all-things-edible food trend cesspool.
Once upon a time, those of the herbaceous persuasion had a difficult task eating in this carnivorous country. But those who didn’t like sticking chorizos in their boca were in luck; restaurants began catering to the vegetarian-inclined, organic awareness increased with products becoming more readily available, and healthy-ish fast food joints started springing up. Part SER diet flaca fad, part rise in health consciousness.
Allie Lazar writes colourful food blog Pick Up The Fork where she obsesses over her culinary findings.