On the Argentine Christmas Table: Pionono

(Photo by From Argentina With Love)

The Argentine Christmas cuisine has, as much of its culinary traditions, a lot of European influence. However, in Argentina Christmas takes place in the Summer, which means hot stuffed turkey is often out of the question. Asados, as could only be expected, are quite common, and especially welcome by the poolside, and otherwise many of the dishes for this festivity, including the famous Vitel Thoné and stuffed tomatoes, are served cold. One of the seasonal favorites are piononos which are special rolls made from a sweet dough and filled with either sweet or savory ingredients. Sweet version include dulce de leche piononos (of course!) and strawberry and cream piononos, and savory versions vary and may include ham and cheese, roquefort, tuna or chicken. The cake like dough, which is spread thin on a flat backing sheet to ensure its perfect-for-rolling rectangular shape, is what makes it distinctive.

The original pionono was actually a cylindrical shaped cake that originated in Granada in Spain, designed to resemble Pope Pio IX (hence the name). Although the Argie version is nothing like the original, it will surely be very present this Christmas given its papal undertone. Find a recipe of pionono here.


Argentina Christmas Cuisine

The  local Christmas menu has incorporated recipes from many of its different immigrants. Because it is summer in Argentine during the holiday season, there is usually a spread of cold cuts (including cold chicken and turkey, cooked the day before) and salads, whilst asados are also very popular. The midnight toast is traditionally done with cider and accompanied by sweets.  Below is a description of the most typical local Christmas dishes.

Asado: Alright, saying that asado is a typical Christmas staple might be an overstatement considering asado is a local staple period! But on Christmas Eve,  the parrillas get going and the city streets are filled with the sizzling aroma of the Argentine barbeque. Additionally, the Christmas asado is often more elaborate than the usual and it is common to find roast suckling pig on the menu.

Vitel Thoné: This is probably THE most typical holiday platter in Argentina and is predictably an imported recipe from Italy. The cold dish consists of  sliced veal covered in a sauce made from anchovies, tuna, mayonnaise, cream and capers. Recipe here.

(Photo by manusmenu)

Piononos: The origin of this dish is not quite clear although there is a sweet version of pionono in Spain. In Argentina they are made in both sweet and salty variations and consist of a thin flat sponge cake which is filled with ham, palm heart, mayonnaise, and other variations for salty versions (with the contrast of the sweet dough), and with dulce de leche (what did you expect?) and fruits and whipped  cream for sweet versions.  Once the ingredients are layered on the sponge cake it is rolled up and voila! Recipe here.

(Photo by From Argentina with Love)

Pan Dulce: Like Vitel Thoné, Pan Dulce is another really typical holiday staple that was also imported by the Italian immigrants. The brioche like high-rise dough filled with dried fruits and nuts is the perfect complement to the sweet cider brought out at midnight on Christmas Eve.  Recipe hereand add some drops of orange blossom water to that for the special local flavor!

(Photo by Gabriela Sellart)

Turrón: The popular Spanish Christmas specialty was incorporated into the local traditions, where it is common to serve peanut and honey turron with the pan dulce at midnight.

(Photo by formalfallacy)