Argentinians have a very sweet tooth. Correction: a whole mouthful of them. Never have I known a nation more in love with sugar, caramel, chocolate, cake, pastries, icing and anything syrupy, sticky or sickly sweet. Their famous Dulce de Leche caramel sauce can be found in the UK only in the premium aisle at Waitrose, high-end delicatessens and Borough market. But here in Argentina, super-size tubs of it are sold in every supermarket.
If you like sweet things, you needn´t go far here to find them. There´s a confituria on every corner, every third shop is a kiosco brimming with bars of sweetened chocolate and candy, street vendors offer sugar-roasted peanuts, salesmen pace up and down the markets with baskets of churros, and on every long-distance bus ride you´re given complimentary sweets, biscuits and cakes. And meet the Alfajor, a snack consisting of two big fat sweet crumbly biscuits, sandwiched together with gooey Dulce de Leche, before being dipped in chocolate, allowed to harden and then sometimes decorated or dipped again. It´s a beast alright.
The trouble comes when you’ve had enough sugar and you´re craving something — anything — savoury or plain. Bad news, the sweet stuff just cannot be avoided. Order a black coffee and a hefty sugar lump gets dropped in as standard. The French would be horrified by the way their croissants are doused in thick gloopy syrup. A loaf of bread tastes suspiciously saccharine. I was served chicken and tuna empanadas with a bizarre frosting of what could only be icing sugar.
So it´s a sweet way of life here (especially for dentists, I imagine). If you want to rid yourself of the sticky residue of Argentinian cuisine, wetwipes and a toothbrush are essential.