It's Heritage Vs. Health In Argentina's Gastronomical Battle

Traditional Argentinian dishes (here, empanadas) tend to be somewhat heavy...
Traditional Argentinian dishes (here, empanadas) tend to be somewhat heavy...
Hector Pavon

BUENOS AIRES – Eating is no longer just the primitive act of satiating hunger. It is a process that includes production, consumption, and evaluation for preparation of the next gastronomical experience.

It’s a hedonistic experience with a concern for nutritional value, especially as the ”o” word – obesity – keeps cropping up. For most people, importance is put on eating things that are healthy, tasty, and new.

The foodie revolution is taking over the world – including Argentina. Two experts talk to us about their opinions on their country’s eating habits.

Multi-talented cook, Narda Lepes and nutritionist Monica Katz co-authored a new book: We Are What We Eat. It’s all about food – from its natural origins to the plate it’s served on.

It is paradoxical that in this era, obesity and chronic illnesses are widespread. We have such a wide variety of chefs, restaurants – both alternative and traditional – and products on the market but still, we can’t seem to be able to put our heads together and change this unbalanced situation.

There are so many excellent cooks who know how to communicate, plenty of people know about nutrition, and there are even celebrities who are jumping on the bandwagon. Despite all of this, nothing has as much strength as the market itself.

But, we all make up the market, right? So, why are we not rising to the occasion? “Can we do something to make our children live longer?” asks Katz. “Children used to live longer than their parents but if we continue the way we are today, with such high levels of infantile obesity and diabetes, our children will die before us – and our grandchildren too.”

“Nutrition, cuisine, and gastronomy go together," says Katz. "Specialists need to try to communicate healthy concepts in a simple way, and put an end to the idea that eating has to be an intellectual exercise. Instead of counting calories or carbohydrates, eating should become a nutritious pleasure.”

Argentine gastronomy

Some Argentinians think that they are always the exception and never the rule. So, when you tell them you cannot eat an entire salami with a baguette in an hour they answer, “my grandfather ate salami all his life and died when he was 90.” They never mention the 400,000 people who did die because of eating so much salami at 60 – just the one who didn’t.

Another concern is that Argentinian gastronomy is losing its identity. Is Wiener schnitzel Argentinian? No, actually it’s German, but if you ask any family in how often they eat milanesa, you’ll notice it’s a weekly staple in most households. What about pasta? Again, no, it’s Italian, but pasta with tomato sauce is popular all over Argentina.

You can get empanadas all over the world now, which are, in fact, Argentinian. How many times a month does the population eat the traditional pork soup, locro? Not as much as before, apparently, and only in certain regions. This is a discussion that must be held – many countries will defend their gastronomic culture until death, but why is Argentina lagging behind?

Lepes believes that the problem is both geographical and cultural. In the northern regions they eat a lot of carbonada beef stew, baked empanadas, and tamales ­– all heavy dishes. But in the center of the country, there is a lot less production of produce because of the jungle and the desert.

Another problem is that the people who want to be eternally young, skinny, and never get sick, have gotten the idea that eating these traditional dishes implies cheating on their diets – it is seen as low quality food. But, yet, they will still eat food from gas stations...

Gastronomic syncretism

A huge problem is that we cannot agree on what dishes are traditionally Argentinian. Cooks have begun to get together and reach out to people like Katz, asking for courses on nutrition with traditional Argentinian cooking. The local produce is there and, of course, healthier versions can be replicated without losing the essence of the dishes.

Lepes believes that while there are people who want the nutritional makeover, there is a need to identify the culture in the cuisine. “We need to find identities in Argentinian dishes, we can’t try to have a Peruvian one because that’s not us – we’re a more modern mix.”

“Most of the original inhabitants of Argentina were killed, very few indigenous Indians survived and not a single black slave," Lepes notes. "Since then, waves of new immigrants have come here. We still say that we’re a country of immigrants and mostly declare them as European, but now there are people from the Middle East and the rest of Latin America. When will we start seeing cilantro or chili as something less foreign?”

Soon, there will be a gastronomic syncretism and Argentina must take advantage of it, like so many other countries have done. But, nutritionally speaking, what people eat everyday in their own homes is where the problem lies.

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!

Spencer Tunick Nude Installation in Israel

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Salam!*

Welcome to Monday, where the UK pays homage to slain MP David Amess, Myanmar frees thousands of prisoners, and Facebook gets ready to build its "metaverse." Please fasten your seatbelts: Worldcrunch also takes stock of the long-lasting effects — good and bad — the pandemic has had on the air travel industry.

[*Azeri - Azerbaijan]


Myanmar to free political prisoners: Myanmar's junta chief Min Aung Hlaing has announced the release of 5,636 prisoners who had been jailed for protesting the coup that ousted the civilian government in February 2021.

• Powerful Haiti gang behind the kidnapping of U.S. missionaries: The notorious 400 Mawozo gang is believed to be behind the kidnapping in Haiti of a group of Christian missionaries, including 16 U.S. citizens and one Canadian. The brazen kidnapping on Saturday comes as crime is spiking since the killing of President Jovenel Moise in July.

• UK to pay tribute to David Amess: British lawmakers will pay homage in parliament to colleague David Amess, who was stabbed to death Friday in what was described by the police as a "terrorist incident." Officers arrested a 25-year-old suspect whose father, Harbi Ali Kullane, worked as a media adviser to a former prime minister of Somalia.

• COVID update: Russia has registered more than 34,000 cases of new infections in the past 24 hours, a new record since the start of the pandemic. Meanwhile, police in the northeast Italian city of Trieste used water cannons to clear striking dockworkers protesting Italy's new requirements that all employees be vaccinated.

• At least 26 killed in floods in India: Torrential rain has triggered floods and landslides in India's southern coastal state of Kerala, killing at least 26 people.

• Facebook to hire 10,000 in EU to develop "metaverse": The U.S. social media giant plans to hire 10,000 workers in the European Union over the next five years to build a "metaverse," a virtual reality version of the internet that the company touts as the future.

Punishing parents for children's bad behavior: After limiting gaming hours for minors, China is now considering legislation to reprimand parents if their children exhibit "very bad behavior" or commit crimes.


Colombian daily El Espectador dedicates its front page to Alex Saab, "owner of the secrets" of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The Colombian businessman, wanted by U.S. authorities for allegedly laundering money on behalf of Venezuela's government, has been extradited from Cape Verde to the U.S. where he is scheduled to appear in court today.



China's economy registered its slowest pace in a year as the country faces a looming energy crisis with power shortages and increasing pressure on its property sector. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the period between July-September rose 4.9%, the weakest numbers since the third quarter of 2020 and significantly lower than forecasts. The world's second-largest economy faces a debt crisis linked to the China Evergrande Group debt crisis, while energy shortfalls have dropped factory output to its weakest since early 2020, when heavy COVID-19 curbs were in place.


7 ways the pandemic may change the airline industry for good

Will flying be greener? More comfortable? Less frequent? As the world eyes a post-COVID reality, we look at ways the airline industry has been changing through a pandemic that has devastated air travel.

⛽ Cleaner aviation fuel: With air travel responsible for roughly 12% of all CO2 emissions from transport, and stricter international regulation on the horizon, the industry is increasingly seeking sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based fuel. In Germany, state broadcaster Deutsche Welle reports that the world's first factory producing CO2-neutral kerosene recently started operations in the town of Wertle, in Lower Saxony. The plant, for which Lufthansa is set to become the pilot customer, will produce CO2-neutral kerosene through a circular production cycle incorporating sustainable and green energy sources and raw materials

.🛃 Smoother check-in: The pandemic has also accelerated the shift towards contactless traveling, with more airports harnessing the power of biometrics — such as facial recognition or fever screening — to reduce touchpoints and human contact. Similar technology can also be used to more efficiently scan physical objects, such as explosive detection. Ultimately, passengers will be able to "check-in" and go through a security screening anywhere at the airports, removing queues and bottlenecks.

✈️ The billion-dollar question: Will we fly less? At the end of the day, even with all these (mostly positive) changes that we've seen take shape over the past 18 months, the industry faces major uncertainty about whether air travel will ever return to the pre-COVID levels. Not only are people wary about being in crowded and closed airplanes, but the worth of long-distance business travel, in particular, is being questioned as many have seen that meetings can function remotely, via Zoom and other online apps.

➡️


"The crimes committed that night are unforgivable for the Republic."

— Emmanuel Macron became the first French president to commemorate the killing of as many as 200 Algerian independence protesters by Parisian police in 1961. For 40 years, French officials ignored the massacre, which took place a year before Algeria gained its independence from France after an eight-year war. In 2012, French President François Hollande acknowledged the killings for the first time on a visit to Algeria, and Macron took it further by attending Sunday's commemoration at the site where the events happened in the French capital. Still, many had hoped the French President would go further and take responsibility for a "state massacre," for a crime many historians consider the most violent repression of a peaceful demonstration in post-War Europe.


​Low trust, high risk: The global rise of violence targeting politicians

The deadly stabbing of British Parliament Member David Amess confirms an ongoing study on trust and governance in democracies around the world: It's bad. In The Conversation, James Weinberg — the study's author and a lecturer in Political Behavior at the University of Sheffield — writes:

⏪ The assassination of Amess, who was stabbed to death in his constituency on Friday, is a tragic moment for democracy. What makes it even more devastating is that such a catastrophic failure is not without precedent or predictability. Labour MP Jo Cox was shot at her constituency surgery in 2016. Before her, another Labour MP, Stephen Timms, survived a stabbing in 2010. And Andrew Pennington, a Gloucestershire county councilor, died in a frenzied attack in 2001 while trying to protect local Liberal Democrat MP Nigel Jones.

☝️ Beyond these critical junctures in the public debate about politicians' safety, elected representatives must live with an increasingly insidious level of popular cynicism that threatens violence on an almost daily basis.

🇬🇧🇳🇿🇿🇦 Not only are these experiences of abuse or threats of physical violence felt across both sides of the political aisle in the UK — they also appear to be growing more common in other democratic contexts where the climate of politics has been presumed to be both calmer and more volatile, from New Zealand to South Africa.

Read the full piece from The Conversation, now on

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!