Choosing food in a country where you don’t speak the language can lead to some surprising meals. Unlike most European countries, English is not widely spoken in Argentina, especially the areas where tourist aren’t found.

Visiting Buenos Aires last winter I had one of those surprising dinners. The restaurant was small, only a few tables were occupied when my friends and I arrived. We spent long minutes with our Spanish/English dictionary trying to decipher the menu. Nothing on the menu seemed to resemble any of the words in our Spanish foods dictionary. No one there knew any English.

Vegetarian Kim eventually managed to convey to the waiter that she wanted anything as long as it didn’t contain meat. Sadie settled on something and it was my turn. There were a number of dishes listed under Carne de Vaca. According to the dictionary, carne is meat and vaca is beef. Argentina is known for its beef and I had determined to try steak while I was there so, my choice was Lomo de Vaca Asada. The waiter raised his eyebrows and wrote it down.

At the open grill and I noticed the waiter and cook looking my way. From where I was sitting it looked like the cook put a huge slab of bacon on the grill. That could not be what I had ordered. I assumed that someone else had ordered that streaky looking piece of meat.

Kim and Sadie’s food arrived looking tasty, modest portions served on dinner plates. The waiter returned, with a smile and a flourish he placed a strip of meat, both ends hanging off the platter in front of me.  Just meat, not even a garnish.  The cook was smiling broadly from his station at the grill.

DSCN1809Lomo de Vaca Asada

It turns out that Lomo means spine, indeed, down the upper edge of the steak there was a row of bones.  I managed to eat about three inches of it before I was full.  The flavor was excellent but the meat was pretty chewy.