There´s one season of the year in which there is a special air about Buenos Aires, and that season is summer. The hustle and bustle usually found in the city transforms during these warmer months, slowing down and leaving the city with a more relaxed feel about it.
You can already notice it in the streets, where, while still fairly crowded, the numbers of passer-bys have started to drop. Many of the city´s residents flock to nearby coastal towns to take a break from work and enjoy the beautiful beaches, while many others opt to stay and take advantage of what the country´s capital has to offer, despite the soaring heat that will be felt between December and March.
The woodlands in Palermo (found in Av. Libertador and Av. Sarmiento) are the most popular destinations at this time of year. During this peak season, the woods are filled with young people having picnics, people in their deck chairs sharing mate with their friends or basking in the sun, teenagers exercising on skates or bikes, and couples of all ages taking a walk amongst the shadows cast by the variety of trees that make up this beautiful landscape.
Typical Argentinean beverage mate is a tea usually served hot, but still continues to be a popular drink despite the warm weather. It is possible to find a cold version called tereré, also a mixture of fruit juices that, when combined with the mate herb, gives it a very distinctive taste and refreshing quality.
To accompany these beverages, Argentineans prefer sweet, flour-based snacks such as pastries, churros (fried dough rolls usually filled with a sweet custard or cream and sprinkled with sugar) or cubanitos (hard dough rolls filled with custard cream). Those that prefer a more salty taste opt for biscochos de grasa (cupcakes made typically from the fat of cows).
The country´s population is made up of a high percentage of descendants of Italian immigrants that arrived between 1880 and 1910. This is important when you picture summer in these parts and their inherited love for ice cream. Many companies that produce it come from these origins and have adapted to local tastes by offering a variety of flavours and portions a lot larger than those normally served on the ‘old continent’.
At night you can enjoy a picada with a cold beer (as is the custom) in one of the many and diverse eateries to be found. They are usually presented on a wooden board, served with a variety of cheeses (Pategrás and Gouda being the most popular) and accompanied by an array of sausages such as salmines and chorizos secos. The plate is finished off with green or black olives, salted or shelled peanuts and slices of bread. This option doesn´t replace dinner, but rather comes before it. Taken from its name, picar (to nibble) or picotear (to peck at), it means to nibble on something small in the same way a bird would, reducing your appetite while you wait for the main meal which will fully satisfy your hunger.
To walk through the city during its most peaceful season really is a joy to behold. Without being distracted by hordes of people filling the streets, you can fully appreciate it´s impressive European-style architecture, allowing you to relax, contemplate and catch a glimpse into the slower paced lifestyle of its inhabitants, if only for a few minutes. You can always start to look for somewhere a bit busier if you want (remember than Buenos Aires doesn´t stop just because a lot of people have left to enjoy their holidays), while those who find themselves in quieter surroundings can adapt to see whatever they want on any given day. Undoubtedly a great opportunity to get to know another side of this metropolis.