A picada is one of the main excuses for argentines to meet and gather. But what is exactly a Picada? Is it a meal? An appetizer? Just a snack? A shared plate? Well, all of the above, really.
Argentine picada is a classic of local cuisine that can be found in any bar or restaurant. Unlike tapas, a picada is about some snacks that generally have less elaboration than sandwiches from Spain and, instead of being served individually, they are arranged on a single tray with different compartments. All diners eat from the same tray, which is usually served before the main meal or to accompany an aperitif or alcoholic drink, which can be beer, wine, «fernet» (alcoholic drink made from various herbs) or «vermouth» (a liqueur made from white wine, absinthe and other bitter-tasting products).
Rodolfo Reich, journalist from La Nacion, explain it here:
“A word known and loved by Argentines, the picada is a local custom difficult to define with surgical precision. A close relative to Spanish tapas and Italian antipasto, sister to copetín and triolet, but with its own logic and flavors, a true picada involves not only what is eaten but also how and when it is eaten.”
Well, will involve specialty cheeses and sliced meats, like cold cuts and sausages that range from dry sausages or «salamines» to smoked meats and hams. Add some olives or other conserved treats assortment of random snack items, like potato chips, crunchy, sweet-coated peanuts, or bizcochitos, a popular savory biscuit made from beef tallow. Some also has veggies and fruits and bread and crackers… only the imagination marks the limit. Always accompanied by a glass of wine, a beer, vermouth or cocktail.
Some different types of "Picada"
But what it’s so special about the Picada, well it’s not really just about the food, but also the conversation. Is a reason to meet, with friends, colleagues, family, a date, anyone!
Just be aware that it’s better to go easy on the Picadas because you still have to have space for the mains that usually is where the Asado, which involves even more (a lot more) of food to continue, but that is for our next chapter…