As you travel north to south in South America, the street food slowly disappears. This is a shame on many different levels ((
Culturally, street food connects you to the locals. These are the foods the native community has embraced. There's nothing better than hungrily wandering a new town and discovering a long line of locals, queued up for the delicacies being hawked from a greasy little shack. The residents have given their stamp of approval; you'd be remiss not to find out what they're waiting in line for.
Financially, street food is almost always the cheapest, best option, in most instances cheaper than buying groceries and cooking for yourself.
Gastronomically, some of the best meals you'll ever eat can be found on the street. An old man, who's spent decades perfecting a dish, one that he prepares hundreds of times a day. Fresh, no fuss ingredients, and proven culinary techniques. A people whose poverty demands that they maximize every potential flavor from limited supplies, to produce foods borne of culinary efficiency. That is a recipe for a great meal.
Logistically, street food is easy, available, efficient, and doesn't necessitate you wasting time in a restaurant. No need to order marked up drinks - you have the bottle of water you brought along or cheap beer or soda from a nearby vendor. Speed and convenience are valued above all else, except of course for taste.)) and you miss it dearly, especially in a place like Argentina. Restaurants are, almost without fail, priced above what you want to spend, especially if you're not overly hungry. Street food is simply the definitive cuisine of backpacking - cheap, delicious, quick, easy, unique, and mobile. It tells you something about where you are and it doesn't tie you down. Just grab whatever the locals are ordering and keep exploring.
And so, it had been disheartening to see the lack of street food in Buenos Aires. Besides panchos, ((Hot dogs, but usually a poor representation of a classic. The hot dogs themselves are almost always long, thin, and tasteless but I must admit to enjoying one local innovation - crushed potato chips as a topping.)) the streets seemed bare of good options. I sat lamenting this fact the other day, wondering where I should eat and coming up with few ideas. This isn't to say there's a lack of good food in Buenos Aires, but I craved the inexpensive deliciousness of a good street shack. Lucky for me, a French couple came to my rescue. "Sandwich place, down by the docks. Good, street food for cheap."
How right they were! The Bondiola (pictured above) is a revelation. The bread, such an important part of a sandwich, is fresh and substantial, though not exceptional. The lettuce and tomato are also more than sufficient, but again nothing to write a long-winded blog post about. It's combination of the meat (tender, flash-grilled pork shoulder) and the toppings (juicy but somehow crispy onions and peppers, a well-done fried egg) that elevate this sandwich. You can taste the greasiness of the ancient grill in this sandwich and that's a good thing. Perhaps it was that my long-standing desire for street food had finally been sated, but that Bondiola, from the shack down by the docks, was the best lunch I've had in a long time.