To many, Christmas is associated with snow, white, winter, fireplace, hot apple cider etc., but to as many others, including us here in Buenos Aires, Christmas is heat, humidity, summer, pool, and cold drinks; thus, the type of dishes at our Christmas dinner table are different and are more suitable for a hot summer night.
One of the common dishes you will come across and also see being sold as ‘take-home ready’ at confiterías (bakeries/cafés) is pionono. Pionono in Argentina is a very versatile dish and it can be easily made at home. It’s basically a sponge cake roll stuffed with anything you like, can be sweet or savory. Usually as a traditional dessert, it’ll have a very generous layer of dulce de leche, get rolled up like a log and then get covered or decorated with confectioner’s sugar, chocolate or more dulce de leche and cherries. Like this:
The savory pionono (top picture) is, however, the Summer dish you’ll see at Christmas dinner. Since they can and do come in many different combinations, more than 1 version is usually served to suit the taste buds of everyone. The most popular style is the Pionono Primavera which has mayonnaise, lettuce, hard boiled eggs, ham, tomatoes, red pepper, and olives. This version also comes in tuna instead of ham. Another version which is also very common is made with mayonnaise, ham and hearts of palm (a very typical ingredient in our summer dishes/salads).
As you can see, the most complicated part of this dish is the pionono, the actual sheet of sponge cake. In Buenos Aires, you can easily find it in any small or big supermarkets (just like the package shown in the picture above). Then, the sky is the limit of what you like to “roll” into it, just remember to keep the moisture in check. For those who have the skill and enjoy making food from scratch, check out this video which will walk you through the do’s and don’ts when baking the perfect pionono. (It’s from a local program, time to practice your Spanish!)
We also want to mention that we love to munch and drink throughout the night. Check out our favorite festive food items in Argentina, they will keep you busy from dinner time till the clock strikes 12 when it’s time for the fireworks!
Have a jolly celebration everyone! ¡Felices Fiestas y Feliz Navidad!