Welcome to The Takeaway, a series highlighting the best goods a destination has to offer. Every week, we’ll showcase a different locale and the gifts every traveler should consider taking away.
Argentina hangs on the opposite end of the earth, and as this hemisphere approaches winter, South America enjoys warmer days and offers plenty of warmth to bring back home.
No item encapsulates Argentinian culture quite like its love affair with mate. The local yerba maté plant’s tea and drinking paraphernalia are among the country’s most common souvenirs. While Argentina is renowned for its leather production, you’ll also find hardy textiles that carry indigenous tradition. Products that trickled down from Spain, such as Malbec, alfajores and alpargatas, have been reclaimed and refined.
As with Belize, U.S. travelers returning from Argentina may bring up to $800 worth of merchandise home duty-free. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently categorize Argentina’s Zika situation at level 2, so practice advanced precautions to avoid contact with mosquitoes.
Sarra Sedghi is Paste Food’s Assistant Editor. She can usually be found arguing about mayonnaise on Twitter.
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Alfajores: Alfajores originated in Europe, but dulce-de-leche-cookie-sandwiches took over Argentina (and much of South America). They're quintessential enough to find in convenience stores, but the fun part comes with experimentation in ingredients and flavor.
Photo: Lydia Chow/ Flickr
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Mate tea and gourds: Argentina's tea culture revolves around mate, the potent drink brewed from the native yerba maté plant. Traditional mate gourds are easy to find for sale and are crafted to suit a wide range of design.
Photo: Nan Palmero/Flickr
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Alpargatas: Alpargatas, the Argentine answer to the espadrille (and the unquestionable influence on TOMS), are comfortable canvas slip-ons secured with braided, rubber or even leather soles. Major Argentine alpargata distributors include Manufacturers like Paez and A&A.
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Wine: Wine production, especially Malbec, has prospered in Argentina over the last several centuries. Argentina's most reputable Malbec comes from the Mendoza region, located in the eastern foothills of the Andes.
Photo: Alejandro Pagni/Afp/Getty
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Textiles: Early Andean civilizations including the Incas and the Mapuche have been producing wool textiles for thousands of years. Today, those traditions intertwine with the souvenir through clothing and home goods such as hardy blankets.
Photo: Ministerio de Cultura de la Nacion Argentina/Flickr
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Antiques: Buenos Aires' San Telmo neighborhood is the city's hub for ferias, flea markets that specialize in European goods brought south decades before. For a breakdown of the city's best ferias, click here.
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Leather: Argentinian leather is considered a must-buy, and for good reason. Here, you'll find some of the best-quality leather in the world crafted into bags, jackets and even customized boots.
Photo by In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images