Photo by tharso/Flickr CC
Soft drinks are getting a bad rap these days (and perhaps well they should), so I thought I'd take a moment in their defense and talk about how Coca Cola has become a part of our everyday lives here in Argentina.
I don't really like soft drinks. They can be too sweet, and, as the critics note in the links above, they are in many ways unfulfilling. I don't care for high-fructose corn syrup, either, but here in Argentina, Coke is made with real sugar (most of it, anyways--you have to check each bottle to make sure), which gives it a much brighter taste (hunt around your local Latino market and you may find some, or just wait until Passover).
For some reason, a small glass of the sweet stuff with a lemon wedge (perfect to balance out the sweetness, and much preferable to a lime) is the perfect thing to go along with my usual avocado, basil, and roasted red pepper sandwich at lunch.
Or we enjoy it after a long ride on the Buenos Aires subway, when water cannot give the same satisfaction as a cold Coca Cola in a real glass bottle. I'm sure there's some nostalgic or Pavlovian element to this, caused by a youth full of commercials like these:
More importantly, Coke makes up two-thirds of Argentina's "national cocktail," if you will, the Fernet & Coke. This is a drink you can get anywhere, from the trendy bars of Palermo to your seat on the bus to Iguazu. We already know the Coke part, but what exactly is that other third, the Fernet?