If your trip to Buenos Aires is coming to an end, you might be in a hurry to make up your mind as to what to bring back home from Argentina. Buying local items is the way to go. Here are some tips on finding the best Argentine souvenirs: what to buy and where.
Written by Carla Chinski, Content Marketing Manager for Vamos Academy
Buying local produce and souvenirs is key to sustaining small businesses in Buenos Aires. Not only that; it can be a great way to support Argentine culture. Of course, buying souvenirs is very common among travelers. It not only shows you’ve actually been there, but it will be valued among family and friends.
Also read: Weekend Street Fairs in Buenos Aires
Argentine Festivals and Markets
The Recoleta street fair, the Palermo Soho fair and the one located at the intersection of Malabia and Costa Rica are the most popular fairs in Buenos Aires by far. These fairs are pretty miscellaneous, so it’s a good idea to know what to look for beforehand.
Elements For Drinking Mate
You can get souvenirs that are pretty typical, like mates made out of dried, hollowed-out pumpkins and carved alpaca metal (pretty fancy, right?) with matching bombillas. Most of them come at a fair price, and yes, you can always haggle when in the land of saving money.
Leather Goods and Clothing
Some other good ideas for Argentine souvenirs that are a bit outside your typical memento are any and all things leather: a nice leather jacket (this can be a bit costly), some classic, leather or hand-sown hemp alpargatas (the working-class version of the loafer) and alpaca wool sweaters you can also find North of the country.
More Typical Souvenirs
Another tip for going to festivals and markets is to look for specific objects such as aromatics–but remember, you cannot take local plants with you–locally-produced yerba mate and other types of produce. Another idea is gaucho knives, the tougher version of a swiss-army knife. You can look for bone, metal, wooden or even ivory handles. These are a bit pricy as well, but worth it if you’re a cooking aficionado.
Souvenirs From Produce Markets: All Things Argentine Food
A Salamín “Atado“
A good salamín is one of the best Argentine foods you can get, really. Smoked, spicy and herb-infused varieties are some of the most popular, but you can also go for a classic version. Salamín is basically an embutido (deli meat or cold meat) made out of pig fat and pig meat. The difference between salami is huge, because a salamín is a long-term stationed product. You can choose either picado fino (finely-ground meat) or picado grueso (thickly-ground.) The good thing about bringing salami is that it will last very long so there’ll be no problem when taking it with you in an enclosed compartment or luggage.
Cheeses From Argentine Provinces
Here’s a bit about local cheeses: they’re delicious. Argentines, because of their Italian origins, are pretty big fans of cheese. True, you can get local cheeses at more mid-sized shops instead of fairs. Some recommended sites are Quesos Don Domingo and Láctos Luz Azul.
The cheeses you can get at fairs are honestly better: more stationed, more varieties, better cuts (i.e. what’s called “corazón de horma”, cut right from the center of the wheel of cheese.) Some of the best, local Argentine varieties you can find are: Queso Tybo, Queso sardo, Queso de Cabra, Sheep Cheese, and Queso Mar del Plata.
It’s good to have options as these might vary significantly in price. It’s also good to note that you can get some of the best cheeses by the side of the road (no, really), meaning near the curb of freeways. If you get the chance of going up north, then you’ll be able to find even more fairs in regions like Santa Fe, Tucumán or Córdoba.
If you’re looking for more recommendations on local Argentine souvenirs, contact our friendly staff at our Spanish school; they’ll be more than happy to help!
Dulce de Leche
Clearly, we must include Dulce de Leche on the list. If you’re tired of seeing commercial brands at the supermarket, this is the way to go. Dulce de leche is milk caramel, but it is not similar to US caramel or any other type of sweet syrup. Especially not to the beloved (or deeply hated) maple syrup. Dulce de leche is made with loads of sugar and whole milk, or by boiling a can of sweetened, condensed milk in a stove pot.
You can use dulce de leche in a variety of Argentine recipes–or eat it on its own, if you have a sweet tooth. Dulce de leche dates back to the nineteenth century, and so it’s completely unique to Argentine culture, meaning you won’t be able to find it anywhere else!
Also read: A Guide to Dulce de Leche
Last-minute Argentine Souvenirs
Airports and Museum Gift Shops
If you really have no other choice, making a last-minute visit to a museum gift shop–which you probably will end up doing anyway–is a great way to find the perfect option for that artsy friend or family member. Most gift shops, if not all of them, offer objects like statuettes, postcards, prints and jewelry similar to the one you can find in a fair. Bringing an art-related memento can make for a fancier gift, if that’s what you’re looking for, although that means you’ll be spending more money.
The good thing about airport gift shops is that they’ll have practically everything you could possibly think of inside the same shop. However, it’s also true that what you’ll be able to find there won’t be as unique as, say, an antique bought in San Telmo.