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..!)
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.
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.
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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