Saturday, August 17, 2013

Finding United States Food Products in Argentine Supermarkets

When I arrived in Argentina, I was afraid I might not ever find food products from the United States ever again, which honestly, scared the hell out of me! For expats, eating native meals can be an exciting experience, but that excitement can fade quickly. Before long, we start missing the foods we grew up with.  

If you’re new to Cordoba or are planning to move here, here are some items that you will find that will be familiar to you.  

 If you’re looking for Pringles, Doritos, Lays Potato Chips and those 3D Chips, you’re in luck. If you’re looking for Ruffle’s Potato Chips, you’re out of luck, at least in Cordoba, but you might find a generic brand equivalent that's semi-decent. 

They don’t have Ritz Cracker, or rather the brand name. They do however have REX which tastes similar to a Ritz Cracker, albeit smaller in size. 

Fruit Loops, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, and Special K are available here. While most of the other brand name cereals (not mentioned) haven’t made it this far down, you will find similar substitutes with Argentinian brand names. 

Traditional Quaker Oatmeal is also available.

Peanut butter, Mac & Cheese, Pretzels, Ginger Ale aren’t as easy to find. Your best bet is to check Wal-Mart for these items. Pictured above are the items as they appear in Argentina. 

Popcorn, regular butter, extra butter, and kettle corn are available as well.

Oreos are the only cookie brands I’ve seen from the States in Cordoba.

Philly Cheese Cream is rare. I think I’ve only found it once at one of the local supermarkets. There are Argentinian brands that will do just as nicely. Tholem is the brand I use. It doesn’t come in a rectangular box, but it does come in a tiny tub. It’s much creamier than the Philly Cheese Cream though. 

Cappuccinos are my guilty pleasure. Fortunately, you can buy some instant mix in Cordoba. Though if I’m feeling adventurous, I’ll go downtown to the local Starbucks and order myself one from there. 

There are all types of teas (regular, green, black, red, mint, fruit flavored, Earl Grey, etc.), as well as regular coffee and flavored coffee (vanilla, etc.).  
Ginger tea is tough to find, but not impossible. It’s called Gengibre in Spanish. You can also buy the root and boil it in a small pot to make Ginger Tea. 

Good Hot Dogs are difficult to pick out. In Argentina, most are skinless, grainy and disgusting. If you’re craving a good hot dog, I recommend you buy the ones that say German (Aleman in Spanish) on the label. These will have skin on them and the quality is slightly better. 

If you’re looking for probiotic yogurts, then you have two options. You can buy Activia yogurt, which comes in either the traditional cups, or as liquid yogurt bags. You can also get probiotics from a brand called Yugorisimo. Probiotics are called provitalis in Spanish. 

Sauces and condiments are easy to come by here. You’ll find ketchup, mayo, barbecue sauce (called Barbacoa here), mustard (regular, honey). For the salads, you have ranch and Caesar dressing available as well. 

There are some sauces you might find useful if you’re from somewhere outside of the U.S., or are really craving an oriental dish. 

Asian sauces available are: Oyster Sauce, sweet and sour sauce (called Salsa Agridulce), and soy sauce.
German: Worcestershire Sauce

If you’re of Puerto Rican/Cuban descent or you simply love their food, you might be interested in knowing that the flavoring they use in their meals, Adobo, is available here, but it’s called Condimento para Pizza, which basically means Pizza condiments. Trust me, it’s Adobo. I know this because my spouse is of Puerto Rican descent. 

The candies I’ve found in Cordoba are Skittles, Starburst, Nestle Crunch, M&Ms, Tic-Tacs, Ice Breakers, Milky Way and Snickers bars (rare but not impossible to find), and Ferrero Rocher. 

Drinks like Pepsi, Coca Cola, Tang, Tropicana Juice, and Gatorade are available. If you’re planning a party to celebrate a holiday, a birthday, or you’re simply a mega-alcoholic, you’ll find familiar brand names like Budweiser, Heineken and Absolut Vodka. 

Ice Tea isn’t well known in Argentina, but you’ll find that the brand, Fuze Tea (which comes in either lemon or peach flavor), is similar to Nestle’s Ice Tea and Snapple. 

If you have a busy life but not enough energy, don't worry! There's Red Bull in Argentina.

If you miss Taco Bell or are simply in the mood for a soft taco or burrito, you’re in luck. While this type of food is not in any way a part of Argentinian culture, they do sell the soft discs needed to make a fajita wrap, burrito, or taco. 

Finally, donuts! They’re rare, but not impossible to find in Cordoba. Your best bet is going to Wal-Mart. They’re not the best donuts in the world, but they’ll certainly satisfy the craving. But if you buy donuts from local bakeries, you might end up eating something that tastes really bland. Oh! Almost forgot, bagels are definitely available at Wal-Mart too, but are super rare.  

You can also find a few American and International food items in Falabella and Almacen de Mario in Cordoba. 

Good luck in your search! 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Voting In Argentina

On Sunday, August 11th, 2013, I voted for the first time ever in Argentina. How did I manage that? Well, as I've mentioned before, I was born here, but moved to the States when I was 5, where I went front U.S. resident to U.S. citizen over a period of time. However, I do consider myself 100% American. However, Argentine law requires that all of its citizens vote, and that includes Argentine-Americans. And that's okay, because I do plan on staying in Argentina for a couple of years, and whatever happens here politically will affect my spouse and I. So, I wanted to add my voice, and I did.

I arrived at my designated voting area, but there was a major back up of cars on the narrow neighborhood streets. 

I headed into the building, (which is a school), and walked up to the voting table that was assigned to me. How did I know which table that was? There's a website that lists your name, the voting location you're supposed to go to, and the table to report to once you get there. 
After I was checked in, I was given an empty envelope and told to walk into a room. I was confused at first because I was expecting to find computerized ballots. The last U.S. election I voted in had those, but I'm afraid I jumped the gun on my expectations about the voting system here.

There was a table with flyers. Each flyer represented the political party available for voting. I already knew who I was going to pick since I'd been doing research in anticipation of the upcoming election. So. I grabbed the flyer with the representative of my choice, folded it and placed it inside the envelope. I had to use spit to seal the envelope, which was disgusting! I'd forgotten how nasty envelope glue tasted like. Too bad I couldn't e-mail my vote. 

With the sealed envelope, I left the room and headed back to the table.  For a second, I didn't know what to do, but the people there were kind and helpful.

I slipped my sealed voting envelope inside the ballot box. Then I signed my name and received a voting slip. Now I have to keep this voting slip for six months until the voting records are updated to show that I did in fact vote.

Why is the voting slip important? As I stated, voting is a serious thing in Argentina. If I want to apply for a credit card or even a job, I need to show proof that I've voted. You can also get fined if you don't vote. 

I'd like to point out that if for whatever reason, a voter doesn't agree with any nominee, they can choose to submit an empty envelope into the voting ballot, but the voter has to present themselves on election day.

This election was a preliminary to weed out the weaker candidates. Then I’ll vote again this coming October for whoever is left standing.  

Oh, and in case you were wondering who I was voting for... shhhI’m not telling.