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Ok, so the title of this article might not sound awe-inspiring but a visit to a supermarket in a foreign country can actually be quite interesting (really..!)

Packets of Yerba

I've found supermarkets in Buenos Aires to be much smaller than what I'm used to back in NZ, but then real estate prices per square metre must be higher in the big city and many people walk to the supermarket so the average purchase is likely much smaller.

Still, a supermarket is a supermarket and the main difference with Argentinian supermarkets is the selection of groceries on offer.

The many colourful packets of yerba-mate are one product that stand out as being a bit different. Mate is the national drink and there is a huge variety of different brands and blends of yerba to suit any Argentinian's taste.

Many of the locals buy their yerba with palo - i.e. small bits of stem are mixed in with the semi-ground dried leaves in order to create a milder taste, but packets of yerba sin palo are also available, along with packets mixed with a multitude of herbs and other flavourings.

Selection of Dulce de Leche

Dulce de Leche is another product that stands out as being typically Argentinian. It is a sort of sweetened, caramelised milk product which is used for spreading on toast, cakes or pretty much anything else sweet. Dulce de Leche spooned on peaches is one of my favourites.

I'm sure you can find this product in many other countries too, but I'd be surprised if you found such a large selection of it as you do here in Argentina. There seem to be three different methods of producing dulce de leche, each with a subtlely different taste and once you multiply out the different methods with the many different brands you end up with a big long row of jars, pottles and other containers to tempt you on your way to the cashier.

Vino Terrazas de los Andes

Of course two other products really stand out in Argentinian supermarkets: meat and wine.

Argentinians are avid meat-eaters and when they're not enjoying a large beef steak for dinner they'll make do with chorizo, milanesas (schnitzel), chicken, pork or a traditional asado (barbeque) which can contain large cuts of all of those meats plus lamb.

To compliment their appetite for red meats Argentinians love to enjoy a red wine. You'll find hundreds of different bottles at the supermarket, 95% of which are locally made. Wines here are (for the most part) exceptionally good value with a typical bottle of decent wine costing only US$3-4. Prices go down to US$1 for the budget concious and generally peak at US$10-20 except for a few premium vintages.

Being smaller the supermarkets don't offer quite the same variety of imported foods that you'll encounter overseas but you'll have no problems finding most ingredients. As an added convienience, the major supermarket chains offer delivery of your purchase for a small fee but what sounds like a good idea can sometimes be a hindrance - make sure you go to the "15 items or less" isle if you're in a hurry!

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Comments

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Carla said "Blog-o-licious" on 21-Mar-2008,
I've been poking around trying to find good Argentina Blogs and found yours. My husband and I will be in Buenos Aries next week and look forward to the visit. Thanks for all the great insights.
Beachhutman in Beijing said "Super, Markets" on 22-Apr-2008,
I love doing supermarkets in countries I visit. How very different they can be, and how similar too. I can unerringly find the beer anywhere in the world (OK, Saudi was a challenge).
I'm trying to remember Jowsey's Stores in Broad Bay,. Otago, where I grew up. I guess it was a small wooden hut, but seemed immense to me then. It sold everything from toilet rolls to tin tacks.
Here in Beijing I am so accustomed to shopping in the Chinese supoermarkets, I get a real shock when I hit a foreign one (eg UK) and see all the wierd, convenience, stuff. Hey, give me cold red cooked pigs ears any day!

(You haven't met MJ on the blogosphere there have you? Lost touch. "MJ in BA; Right here right now")
Jeffrey said "International Supermarkets" on 29-Apr-2008,
I absolutely love going to supermarkets in whichever city I am visiting. It is such a treat to be able to compare the foods, try new ones, and to be able to use your language abilities in getting what you are looking for. One thing that I would love to see is a supermarket that sells wine that is produced locally...that is something i'll never see in Boston! Argentinian wine is my favorite and I've always loved some really good meat to go along with it.

It is also amazing to see how innovative ideas have spread around the world, such as having your groceries delivered directly to your home. I am actually kinda surprised on how popular this service is. Anyway, thanks for sharing your experience. Look forward to reading more about your adventure in Argentina!
Debo Hobo said "Great Description!" on 22-May-2008,
I think you described the market quite accurately. I am a big fan of Dulce de Leche in fact I order a cake from the supermarket here in the states at least once a month. Yummy!!!
Natasha said "Dulce de Leche" on 29-May-2008,
Oh my God! With all that dulce de leche in front of me, I would die from a heart attack! Great!
melissa said on 17-Sep-2008,
I went to Argentina 2 summers ago and had mate and loved it. I brought some back to the states that I bought at a market over there ( i even have the cup thing and straw for the mate).
Federico said on 11-Jan-2009,
Hola.. ¿Qué tal?. Soy de Entre Rios, Argentina y estuve leyendo todos tus articulos.. la verdad me encantaron, muy buenos. Creo que no podrian estar mejor explicados je. Saludos y espero que disfrutes tu estadia en el pais. :)
Vanessa said on 6-May-2014,
I love visiting groccery stores in foreign countries! Thanks for the heads up about BA, interesting article idea.
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