Eating in South America: Pastries in Patagonia

Matthew Chamberlain

It was May. It was winter. It was cold. And I was at the bottom of the world.

The Argentinean side of Fagnano Lake, specifically, abutting the snowcapped Andes and the Chilean border. I'd earned a meal and a rest after a morning exploration of Tierra del Fuego National Park, a place of occasionally vibrant, occasionally frozen wonders.

My tour's vehicle traversed mud pits and ice tracks to reach the lake's shores, on which sat a lean-to shelter with a wood-burning space heater and an oil-drum grill.

While a fox nosed around outside, our crew of six unpacked a few bottles of local malbec—unintentionally chilled at about 20º below recommended temperatures—and waited for the charcoal to take. Between sips of the icy wine, we all tried to understand the beauty of the day, of the moment, and decide between the two items on the menu: skirt steak and spinach empanadas.

I found it too difficult to pass up the slightly-charred pastries, which were cartoonishly emitting steam. With plastic cup and tin plate in-hand, I took the best window seat of my life and waited for the appropriate moment to devour my treat. —Matthew Chamberlain, SAVEUR