Why Argentine Steaks Are Getting Harder to Find

Fancy a juicy, medium-rare Argentine steak? Me too, but we’d be lucky to get one.

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Marcos Brindicci / REUTERS

A chef prepares beef at a grill post in Buenos Aires on Jan. 16, 2008.

Fancy a juicy, medium-rare Argentine steak? Me too, but chances are neither of us will get to enjoy one unless we visit the South American country.

It is no secret that Argentines love their beef. The average tango-dancing ‘muchacho’ consumes 134 pounds (about 61 kg) of cow meat every year — the second highest in the world — and its quality is legendary. “It’s a very traditional meal here in Argentina,” one shopper told CCTV. “Most Sundays I eat barbequed meat with my family.”

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Yet the industry is largely domestic. Only 7% of the nation’s beef is exported, so sampling a spoon-tender Argentine filet mignon will most likely entail a costly flight. This was not always the case. In 2005, the country was the world’s third largest beef exporter with one quarter of total production — amounting to some 882,000 tons — leaving its shores for dinner tables abroad, according to Quartz.

The change came about when former President Nelson Kirchner — husband to incumbent Christina — raised export taxes from five to 15% in order to address rocketing meat prices at home. This decimated the export industry, much to the chagrin of the nation’s farmers. Uruguay and Paraguay have now stolen a march on their southern neighbor as Argentina drops to only 10th in the beef exporter rankings. Critics argue that strict export restrictions have made beef farming unsustainable, and as a result the number of cows in Argentina has dropped from 57 million last year to just 48 million today.

So while swaggering gauchos herding cattle over the wide pampas is quintessential to the South American nation’s identity, their golden era is fading fast.

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9 comments
JasonRite
JasonRite

BTW, author, it's NESTOR Kirchner, not Nelson. Fact Checking guys.....

Changes_Long
Changes_Long

This author has it wrong. Good luck getting a steak medium-rare in Argentina. They cook the steaks to submission, so it doesn't matter how good the beef is. We listed it as one of the top overrated food destinations on our recent year-long trip around the world: http://www.changesinlongitude.com/top-ten-10-food-tourist-traps-restaurant/

JasonRite
JasonRite

@Changes_Long BS...I own an apartment in Buenos Aires, go often and lived there for nearly 3 years. You obviously don't know how to order the steak rare which doesn't surprise me as most Americans can barely manage counting to 10 in Spanish. I have had plenty of rare to medium rate steaks at El Trapiche for one. The restaurant itself is not remarkable but the steak is still excellent, especially for the $20 including bread and drink.

Changes_Long
Changes_Long

@JasonRite Hi Jason, You presume to know so much about me yet know so little. It sounds like you could use some cultural sensitivity training yourself.

jkviezzer
jkviezzer

@Changes_Long Having lived in Buenos Aires for 10 years, I agree that most tourist trap restaurants suck.

But having had the privilege to attend backyard asados in family houses of friends, I have to disagree. When done just right, served rare and seasoned with just coarse salt, Argentinean beef shines. Same goes for reputable restaurants in the area, the ones that actual LOCALS go to.

Tourist traps are always tourist traps.

Changes_Long
Changes_Long

@jkviezzer You're right but we triesdmany restaurants well off the tourist path with no luck.

doldrums
doldrums like.author.displayName 1 Like

Charles. You might travel the world but you cannot read. the author is referring to the export of the beef and how you might like it. Not how it is prepared in Argentina. Next time pay for advertising your worthless blog.

Changes_Long
Changes_Long

@doldrums Did you read the story? The author clearly states that if you want a juicy medium-rare steak that you will have to visit Argentina. BTW, who's Charles?

doldrums
doldrums

Changes, Can't wait for your book about Argentina. Probably shouldn't ask any of the residents , as you know all. Ridiculous faux cultural elitism without any actual knowledge.