If there was one element of life that ties every South American region together, it would be food – with Patagonia playing its role in good eating and good times.

The Patagonian region encompasses the southern tip of the continent, including both Argentina and Chile, which share the imposing Andes range as a border. With Aurora Expeditions, you are able to join the Patagonia Discovery Trek – a 10-day trek which explores both countries and the wider Patagonia region. Depending on your schedule, you can choose to start this trip in either Argentina or Chile.

Regardless of which direction you take, outstanding food is bound to be right around the corner. Patagonia locals are passionate about their history, traditions and culture with food an integral part of society. Of course, there is no better way to experience Patagonia than through your pallet. Read on to learn more about Patagonian food and what dishes to look out for along your journey!

European influence

To fully understand the passion behind Patagonia’s cuisine, you have to take a step back in time. Around 500 years ago, the Spanish, English and other Europeans explored Patagonia – each claiming various regions and establishing small settlements for scientific research. This interaction with the local tribes was the first step in the progression of Patagonia’s food.

Of course, as Argentina and Chile developed and took control of the region, this just added more flavours and dishes to the cuisine – creating vibrant, varied and unique food, bound to inspire your tastebuds! This European immigration and influence is still engrained in Patagonia’s food, with many dishes taking common ingredients, but adding exotic flavour combinations to serve dishes that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.

Patagonian ingredients

As the Patagonian region is mostly made up of plains, mountains and farmland, the ingredients used in cooking are often fresh and locally-sourced. Whether this is the meat such as beef, pork and lamb or fruit and vegetables, the locals love using products from the region and showcasing them as much as possible. Often, the dishes are simple, but they pack enormous flavour!

As mentioned above, European immigration also influences ingredients in Patagonia. The region is famous for its pasta and chocolate as well (despite being thousands of kilometres from Italy and Switzerland) and even has a flourishing chocolate industry with delicious chocolaterias in El Calafate – utilising regional sugar, fruit and other elements.

What dishes should you try in Patagonia?

During your trip with Aurora Expeditions, it is a good idea to step outside your comfort zone and try as much local Patagonian cuisine as possible. For the most part, the food is extremely affordable and convenient with markets or roadside stalls across Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales and El Calafate.

This could be your only opportunity to try an authentic Patagonia barbeque or indulge in a local sweet treat, so put your preferences to one side and enjoy the hospitality. Here are a few famous Patagonia dishes that you need to try!

Cordero al Palo

We might love our barbeques in Australia, but the local Patagonian version is certainly worth a try. Cordero al Palo is basically a spit-roasted lamb over an open fire – allowing the meat to fall off the bone with a crisp crackling on the outside.

Popular across the region with various side dishes, there is no beating Patagonia and its smokey lamb!

Empanadas de Cordero

Taking inspiration from its Spanish and Latin America roots, empanadas are another must-try food in Patagonia. The Empanadas de Cordero version are stuffed with lamb stew instead of cheese or other types of meat.

Once baked, the stuffed pastries are delightfully delicious with the rich local meat complemented by earthy vegetables.

Chupe de Centolla

While the focus is often on land produce, Patagonia also offers excellent seafood, as illustrated in their Chupe de Centolla or Patagonian King Crab Pie. Restaurants across the region develop a chowder-like stew with crabmeat and breadcrumbs before topping the dish with cheese.

This cooking style brings out the top seafood flavour and shows off another part of Patagonia’s famous cuisine.

Trucha en Papillote

With Patagonia’s abundant lakes, glaciers and rivers, trout and other fresh fish are a vital part of the local diet. In this French-inspired dish, the trout is wrapped in cooking paper surrounded by a mouth-watering butter sauce and seasonal vegetables.

After being cooked, the pink trout flesh will fall off the bone and you’ll be able to enjoy the fish as nature intended – with classic local ingredients alongside!

Dulce de leche

Put simply, Dulce de leche is a dessert made of sweetened milk, sugar and chocolate. While it can be eaten on its own, the texture of Dulce de leche allows it to be spread on cake, toast, cookies, crepes, churros or even ice cream.

Across South America, this product is famous for its creamy, rich and caramelised flavour – perfect as a dessert following a tasty Patagonian dinner.

Interested in Patagonia?

Food is just one part of Patagonia’s rich heritage. To learn more about the region or to book your place, check out our Patagonia Discovery Treks.