Tango and football, pampas and gauchos, Andes and Patagonia: in addition to these great classics, the magical country of Argentina has much more to offer like its delicious chocolate drink, el submarino, otherwise known as remo, which has also become popular in Uruguay.
What is el submarino?
El submarino means submarine in Spanish. Preparing el submarino is the easiest and most fun way to serve a hot chocolate, and it’s one of the most traditional drinks from Argentina and Uruguay.
El submarino is a cup of hot milk with a thick rectangle of dark chocolate served next to it. This chocolate rectangle is defined as the submarine which is immersed in a glass of very hot milk.
As it is stirred, the mixture becomes hot chocolate, and if done properly, a nice treat is deposited at the bottom of the cup: a melted chocolate mud.
In Argentina, el submarino is usually the winter drink. The most traditional way to serve it is in a long glass cup placed on a separate metal support and with a handle to hold the glass so as not to burn yourself because the submarine is served very hot so as to help the quick melting of the chocolate bar in the milk.
El submarino is served with a particularly long spoon, which is often a collector’s item.
In Argentina, for years, the most traditional submarino has been served with a chocolate bar from the Águila brand, a 14-gram chocolate bar, emblematic of this drink. And one cannot speak of el submarino without mentioning the word Águila.
How to make el submarino
The drink is prepared in 4 steps. In summary, the submarino requires only 4 quick steps to obtain a delicious drink:
- 1st step: Prepare a cup of boiling milk and a chocolate bar placed on the side.
- 2nd step: Immerse the chocolate bar in boiling milk.
- 3rd step: Stir with a long teaspoon until the chocolate is completely dissolved.
- 4th step: The chocolate is finally dissolved in the milk and must form bubbles on the surface and a chocolate residual layer forms at the bottom of the cup.
What is the origin of el submarino?
We know that when America was conquered by the Spanish, they brought with them all their customs and especially their culinary customs.
However, these Spanish conquerors also adopted certain learned New World customs. One of these customs, among others, was to drink hot or cold chocolate.
Hernán Cortés, a Spanish navigator, explorer and conquistador, born in 1485 in Spain near Seville and who died in 1547 in Castilleja de la Cuesta, was the first European to discover the chocolate drink when the Aztec emperor Moctezuma offered it to him to taste it.
In fact, Hernán Cortés went as early as 1504, at the age of 20, to make a fortune in the West Indies (that is to say in America) and then in Cuba. Cortés is best known for having conquered Mexico on behalf of Emperor Charles V (King of Castile), and for being the main architect of the collapse of the Aztec Empire. This territory thus became a Spanish colony, New Spain.
Moctezuma (1466 – 1520), whose full name is Motecuhzoma Xocoyotzin, was the ninth ruler (huey tlatoani) of Mexico-Tenochtitlan. It was during his reign, from 1502 to 1520, that the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire began.
So it was Moctezuma, the head of the Aztec empire, who presented Hernán Cortés his favorite drink, chocolatl, the predecessor of contemporary hot chocolate. It consisted of cocoa beans mixed with vanilla in a special way, which formed a drink with a texture similar to honey. The emperor liked it so much that he drank it from a sort of pure gold cup.
Later, the tradition of drinking hot chocolate became a classic of colonial Río de la Plata, and even the political process that led to the independence of Spain was much less revolutionary than is believed, because it could not break with all the traditions of the metropolis, keeping the custom of drinking chocolate among the most popular ones.
At the time, it was said that preparing chocolate was “an art that was not suitable for the anxious” because it was a recipe that took time.
However, it was at the beginning of the 20th century, in the Argentina of great immigration, that a company, Águila, whose brand is still the leader, proposed the classic chocolate bars to correct the length of the recipe and speed up the process. Aguila chocolate is now part of the collective memory of all Argentines.
Don Abel Saint, the founder of Aguila, started with a small business dedicated to roasting coffee and then made chocolates. The emblem of its building, the figure of an eagle, has become one of the historic emblems of the city of Buenos Aires.
Between the 1930s and 1970s, he designed and marketed around 100 different products, including this little chocolate bar used for el submarino. This tasty, nutritious bar dissolved quickly, making the product an immediate success, it was called “chocolate for a cup”.
The name given to this drink dates back to the early 1930s when the French owner of an Argentinian restaurant named Patrick Posto had a very close friend as a guest in his restaurant. He was accompanied by his family and that day they were going on a trip.
It was cold and the guest asked Patrick to prepare a drink for him and his family to warm them up before boarding the plane. It was then that Patrick decided to serve him this drink which would surprise the children. The heat of the milk gradually melting the chocolate in immersion led them to compare the chocolate to a submarine.
In the south of the continent, drinks are produced which, thanks to their flavor, have become known all over the world. Thanks to the variety of ingredients and the techniques used to make them, it is possible to taste many and in a different way each time.
Here are some examples of some of the most popular Argentine drinks:
- Yerba Mate
It is the most famous drink in the country. Its origin dates back to the time of the Guaraní natives who used the plant for important celebrations, rituals and also used it as currency to carry out commercial activities. Mate is much more than a drink: it is a ritual with deep meanings.
In terms of composition, it is mainly herbs. Myrrh, rhubarb, chamomile, cardamom and saffron, among others. All this is macerated in grape liquor and left to filter in barrels for 12 months. It is one of the favorite drinks of Argentines, especially in the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires. Many describe its flavor as a cough syrup. This drink originated in Europe and was brought to Argentina by Italian immigrants, who consumed it for medicinal and digestive purposes.
- Patero Wine
It is the oldest and most natural wine in Argentina. And the one who maintained his primitive process of development. This artisanal drink is inspired by one of the oldest traditional Italian wines in winemaking. The grapes should only be crushed with the feet, or sometimes with plastic boots. In this way, a more natural decantation is obtained because in the most important part of the process, no type of machine is used. With a long popular tradition, Patero wine goes back to its origins in the 16th century when the colonizers began to settle in the vineyards of each new American colony.
Chicha is found in several Latin American countries, an undistilled fermentation of corn, which is specific in each country depending on the varieties of this cereal. Hookah was made by indigenous communities in northern Argentina and, like mate, was of great importance in ancestor celebrations.
The peculiarity of this drink is that thanks to its fermentation process, a small degree of alcohol can be obtained in the very sweet drink.
Every country has a beer that has become the favorite of many, and Argentina is no exception. Beer in Argentina has a wide range of brands and flavors. Some are more artisanal and refreshing than others.
Theregrima coffee is a way to prepare coffee which consists of a cup with a third of coffee and milk for the rest. First the milk is poured with froth at the end, then it is spotted with coffee. This is café con leche (more milk than coffee) and it exists in various parts of the world.
- Chocolate del 9 de julio
Another chocolate is all the rage in Argentina. Independence Day is celebrated on July 9 and there is an inevitable element in this celebration, a drink that is present on most tables, a symbol, a tradition: that of serving delicious hot chocolate. Argentina is located in the southern hemisphere, so the winter months are May to August and the hottest summer is January. In July, it is therefore cold. At first, this drink was not hot, it was a mixture of cocoa beans, water, wine and pepper. Then the Spanish conquistadors warmed it up.
You can also drink mate with very cold water. This custom is prevalent in northeast Argentina, Paraguay and southern Brazil. Tereré or terere, of Guarani origin, is an infusion of yerba mate, similar to mate but prepared with cold water and ice rather than with hot water and in a slightly larger container.
- 2½ cups milk
- 4 (½ oz / 14 g) bars dark chocolate (preferably Àguila)
- Sugar (to taste)
- 2 glass cups with a handle
- Boil the milk.
- Pour it into a long cup with a handle.
- Dip 2 chocolate bars in each cup.
- Add sugar (to taste).
- Mix with a long spoon.