So, Argentina? What do you actually know about Argentina?
You will properly start thinking about wine, soccer, big steaks, and tango, right? Or maybe you also recall one or two of the world heritage sights on the Argentine territory; Iguazu Waterfalls, the Perito Moreno Glacier, or maybe Peninsula Valdés?
However, there is so much more to Argentina! And there are things that are less told about the massive country in the very South of the American continent. That is the aim of this blog post; to get to know some of the things that nobody else tells you about Argentina.
As I have already written about there are plenty of things that you don’t normally get to know about the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires. So, today let’s take a closer look at things nobody tells you about Argentina!
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Basics about Argentina and the Argentines
Most Argentines have a better understanding of the concept of inflation than the majority of European Business School students because they have lived with it under their skin for decades. And it seems like speculating in getting things cheaper if you can pay them in the future has become a national sport.
Argentina is a mix of Italian, Spanish, British and German immigrants who primarily arrived in the country’s huge immigration flows of the 1880s…
… For that reason, many Argentines hold a European passport.
Around 30% of the Argentine population lives in poverty – even though the former government of los Kirchners (more about them further down) said it to be 12% (well, they anyway also liked to play around with the numbers at the statistic office).
The possibly most used word in Argentina is Che meaning something like hey – oye, che!
Shopping and money in Argentina
Before you swing your credit card remember to ask whether there is a discount for paying in cash. In some places, you can get around 10% discount if you pay en efectivo (e.g. in cash). Rumors go that this makes it easier for the shops or restaurants to reduce their tax bills.
In most shops, you will see the price of paying everything now or the price of paying in cuotas. Cuotas means that the shop let you pay your purchase over the course of 3, 6, 12, 18 or whatever amount of coutas you choose. In times of crazy inflation movements, these coutas made good sense for Argentines because inflation would reduce the debt over time. You can try it out but until now my international credit card hasn’t worked with coutas (e.g. my bank doesn’t accept it).
In some shops, you will get assistance at one counter but pay your purchase at another… In my world, not the highest efficiency is seen but at least it must help to keep unemployment down?
If you are staying for longer in Argentina, your favorite app and website for purchasing will most likely become Mercado Libre. Here you can find close to anything from new and second-hand merchandise to house rental and fast good. For example, I found a decent second-hand espresso coffee machine on Mercado Libre.
There are two different 100 pesos notes; one with the iconic Evita Peron (more about her later on), and one with Julio Argentino Roca a politician and military man and twice Argentina’s president in the 1880s.
In 2016 a 500 pesos note was introduced, however, the cash machines from where people pay their bills still only accept up to 100 pesos notes… Kind of (very) annoying getting 500 pesos notes out of the ATM but having to find a place to exchange to 100 pesos notes to be able to pay one’s bill.
There used to be both a 2 peso bill and a 2 peso coin… But now they took the 2 peso bill out of circulation and only let the coin.
Food habits in Argentina
The milky caramel cream dulce de leche is a proud part of Argentine cuisine, and can be added to basically any kind of dessert… Trust me, when I say ANY kind. You will be surprised how many desserts the Argentines can add dulce de leche.
One of the things to which dulce de leche is added is the popular alfajores, a small piece of cake with for example chocolate or dulce de leche between dough of chocolate cake.
A popular way to sweeten up life a bit in Argentina is to buy facturas, small pieces of pastry (where dulce de leche, of course, also can be added!). However, do not confuse them with getting an invoice for the items you purchased in a shop, which in Spanish also is called factura.
Even though Argentines love their good big steak, they are also big consumers of milanesa; a dish of fried meat. It can also be found in the version milanesa napoliana which is added tomato sause and cheese on top of the fried meat.
No doubt in the fact that the Yerba Mate drink is a popular drink in Argentina. You will see everywhere from gas stations to hotel receptions offering hot water for their clients and their mate – yes, even on the beach some smart guys made a business out of selling people hot water for their mate.
A bit about Peronism and politics in Argentina
Even though Perón died in 1974 and his iconic first wife, Evita, in 1952, they are still a present part of Argentine political self-understanding. Especially, the symbol of Evita can be found many different places around the country – among others as mentioned on the 100 peso note.
The Peronist movement is not some antique social movement even though its founder Juan Domingo Perón. It is an ever-changing movement that is still present and active today. However, today it is divided into Peronism Kirchnerista (after the former President couple Nestor and Cristina Kirchner who govern Argentina for a total of 12 years), Traditional Peronism, and Peronism anti-K (anti-Kirchnerista)… Confused?
Expect a government from 1999-2001 (just before the big crisis), the current Argentine government under Mauricio Macri is the first non-Peronism government in almost 30 years. Quite impressive, and widely discussed topics among Argentines.
Now it is up to you; did you learn something new about Argentina? Is there something you would like to add to the list? Please feel free to share it in the comments below!
Terrific post. I learned something new. Thanks!
Hi Nancy, Thank you so much! I’m so happy to hear that you learned something new 🙂
Wow Argentina is so interesting! I’m sorry to hear about all the inflation though. Their pastries look delicious!
It really is, Kim! You guys should come by one day! Yeah, the inflation is a real killer.
Hi! Interesting post, but I have to tell you that it is called milanesa not milenasa
Thank you for your comment. I’m happy to hear that you found the reading interesting! Oh, thank you so much! That is just a little typing error – hereby corrected! Thank you!
Hi! Just some facts to add. Argentina had a non peronist president from 1984 to 1989 and from 1999 to 2001. Macri started his political carreer as a peronist, so I am not sure you could call him a non peronist president.
hope this could help out!
Thank you so much for your correction! It was super helpful! And hereby, corrected!
However, I did not count Macri as peronist president since he did not come to power with the peronist party behind.
Once again, super helpful! Thank you 🙂
Rebecca, awesome post!! I am Argentinian and I’m pretty impresed by it. Anyway a little comment on it: the word “Che” does not mean Mate. It means someting quite hard to explain ?. It would most times be used like a “hey you” to call someones attention. Sometimes it is just a filler that we use in sentences without any sense. But most times we use it to call someones attention. For example if a stranger dropped something on the street we would say: “Che se te cayó esto” that would mean something like: “ hey excuse me, you dropped something”
thank you so much for dropping by! Wuh, I’m so proud to have impressed an Argentine!
True, “che” is a very hard word to define, and thank you so much for your clarifications. All the best to you and thanks for looking by. //Rebecca
Hi Rebecca, awesome post! Very detail. I’m from Argentina and I have something to add to your 12 point, the 2$ bill is now out of circulation. The time they (bill and coin) coexist was because the government was taking out the bill of circulation.
Hi Fernanda! So honored to have a visit from an Argentine on my blog! Yeah, that’s true. I realized that they were taking the $2 bill out of circulation after writing the post 🙂 Will have to come up with a new thing for the post – any ideas?
Hi! I’m from Argentina and just wanted to see how the rest of the world see us?
Anyway, I wanted to tell you that we don’t use “che” as “mate” but like a call of atention, just like “hey!”
e.g: hey! How are you?
Che, ¿cómo estás?
Hey Lola, what are you doing?
Che Lola, ¿qué estas haciendo?
Thank you for your suggestion! I think that it is a bit difficult exactly translate how to use the “che” as in different situations it is used differently. I will add your point in the post. Thank you for sharing! I hope you enjoyed the read! 🙂
Hi! Interesting post! I was going to comment about the word “che” but I see other argentinians have already done it. I agree with them, “che” is more like a “hey”, not “mate”.
And as regards the 2 pesos note, there used to be a note and a coin at the same time, but the note is out of circulation now. I think it has to do with inflation. In the past, you could buy many things with $2. For example, you could buy two bottles of Coke in the past… but now you can only buy one candy. As it has less value, it became a coin.
And I have to add that dulce de leche is amazing. We add it to everything :p
Thank you for dropping by!
Yes, other Argentines have been there before you to comment on the “che”-thing. I’m sorry I have been too slow on changing it 🙂
Regarding the 2 pesos note/coin; as you can see this post is rather old (from 2017), so I’m aware that the $2 note has been taken out of circulation. Thanks for the heads up!
Thank you for this wonderful and informative post!
Thank you so much for dropping by, Kristina! I’m so happy to hear that you found the information on my blog useful! 🙂