Expo-Apic: A festival of yum

This Thursday through Sunday, on the river ParanĂ¡, is the most delicious Expo a food lover could dream of. Expo-Apic it is called here in Corrientes and rural artisans, business men and mate growers head from all over Argentina to this little corner of Corrientes to show their wears.

I paid my 4 pesos entrance fee and maneuvered my way around the muddy ponds left by the morning rain, and waltzed into the awakening grounds. Not every booth had been set up, so my man and I decided to take a tour before doing any heavy buying.

The first few booths were made up of fabric softeners, a display on breast milk that would have made my midwife friend back in Seattle very proud, and ponchos brought up from Patagonia made of un-dyed wool and spun into some amazing patterns. We walked around elaborate silver mate cups, leather hats and jackets and a pen full of nursing piglets, before stumbling upon a sight that would make any respectable food bloggers eyes pop: dried meats.

The man who owned the booth hailed from Cordoba, a city about 7 hours south of Corrientes. He sold everything from dried fruits to cheeses, all hand made and all unbelievably appetizing. His assistant handed me a little yellow flyer which read out the specials, an assortment of salamis, a pound of jamon crudo (prosciutto), a loaf of country bread, a mild flavored cheese specked with dried herbs, 4 dried figs, and a bottle of wine, 30ish pesos. He gave us a sample of one of the salamis, a small fat one loaded with flecks of white fat, it was thick and smoky in flavor and aged to the perfect texture, not to tough to chew but not so squishy it made you squeamish. For 2 extra pesos he upgraded the wine to the sweetest red I have ever tried in my life, a wine called Patero bottled in Catamarca by a fellow named Luis Antonio Cuello as the bottle proclaimed, and all made of course artesanalmente.

And then there was the sandwich: 3 pesos for a nice round country roll loaded down with jamon crudo.

And as they say, a picture is worth 1,000 words so I will allow this photo documentary of the full bliss of this sandwich as sampled by Santiago explain the full joys which I unfortunately cannot.

The point is fresh food from the farm cannot be beat, especially when it comes in the shape of dried cured ham, in case anyone was wondering, jamon crudo is also fabulous with Eggs Benedict.

After the vendor loaded our by then bulging and overladen bags we went off in search of more goodies.

The south of Argentina is loaded with German immigrants, mainly after World War Two, and as my fiance likes to remind me, also (in a very general, sweeping kind of way) escaping Nazis. But this means lots of European cooking styles, which have been transformed a la Argentine, and made to suit local tastes. You can see this in the pastries and crops of the south, but no way so ridiculously delicious as in the case of sweets.

These chocolates are also all made in small shops throughout Southern Argentina, they come mixed with shredded coconut, encasing liquors or dulce de leche, full of fluffy mousse and stamped into any number of intricate shapes and patterns. My personal favorites were the chocolate en rama, a stick of crumbly chocolate with much the same shape as the Cadbury flake, and the chocolate covered orange peel, which unlike many of the varieties I have tried in the states, surprisingly tangy rather than jam-y sweet.

Needless to say, we left with our bags full of chocolates and our wallets considerably lighter. The chocolate is all but gone already, and the more I think about it, the more I am becoming decided on heading back over there this afternoon for a bit more. So much for diet, I will have to up the dose of daily pilates I suppose.

Oh well, time for a sandwich!


Pam said...

Great post, really like your blog. Consider yourself linked

The UNvirgin Mary said...

drooooool...... that looked like it was a lot of fun!! Wish they had food like that here.... japanese food is devoid of flavor besides fishy and salty and.... i dunno. those two seem to make up the majority of it. sigh....

jenjen said...

hello, this is the first blog i've been to in your pat of the world. It's great I love seeing what other people's worlds look like. That salami sounds delish!!!

ms.proust said...

What a day! I've been inspired by your blog to look into a vacation in Argentina, but alas my frequent flyer miles will only get me as far as Mexico City this year. Looks like it's Oaxaca instead. So triple up on your pilates & eat up for the rest of us!

Anita said...

Wow...everything looks so...overflowing! So much yummy goodness! I'm jealous of you but glad you shared pics! I think you should definitely go get more of that fabulous looking chocolate!

Katy said...

Pam, thanks! It is always great to make new connections!

Angie, fishy and salty hmm? Sorry about that miss! It was a lot of fun in fact, and the rural (another similar event where everyone is from Corrientes, is comming up soon too!

jenjen, I do know of one other food blog from Argentina, but it is in spanish, I have a link on my page. I agree about being able to look at blogs from around the world it is a lot of fun!

ms.proust, will do!

anita, everything was overflowing! and very hard to resist! My fiance ended up getting up in the middle of teh night right before it closed and bought me my chocolotes as a surprise, I guess he woke me up to tell me about it, but I dont remember, I did have a lovely breakfast of chocolates though, isnt it nice being an adult and able to eat candy whenever I choose?

Robert said...

The whole event looked super tasty. We don't usually get those kind of home-grown events here in Capital... they make a big deal about the ExpoGourmet coming up, but I prefer less hype & more real food!

Vino patero is pretty common & is made by traditional techinques (pressing the grapes by foot, fewer days fermentation, etc.) Good stuff! Thanks for blogging about Argie food!

Rorie said...

Oh, how fabulous! Really great post, Katy! Love the photos!

Anonymous said...

Hi Katy
The photos look great
One of the thing I liked best about England was the market day when the farmers all brought their cheeses to the Ledbury town market. Your mum tried to get me some cheese from the Mouse Trap on her last trip in Ludlow but it just didn't compare.