Usually, a business meal in Argentina is typically not about business at all. The focus is on building relationships which are so important in this country. Business meals are about getting to know each other and meeting on a personal, cordial level. Never underestimate these relaxed get-togethers, as Argentinians will use these occasions to form an opinion as to whether or not they would like to work with you.
Argentinians hardly distinguish between the professional and the personal and therefore do not keep much distance. So be open to personal questions and show some interest in your counterpart, for instance by inquiring about your host’s family. Tell them a little about your life at home and show them some pictures as well.
Sports – in Argentina primarily football, of course – or travel experiences are also good topics of conversation. If you have already seen some parts of Argentina, you will certainly not find it difficult to praise the beauty of the country. If Buenos Aires is your first stop, feel free to ask your host about places of interest that you should see.
However, there are some things that you should not bring up in conversation. One taboo topic is certainly the Falklands War of 1982, as Argentinians still feel the pain of defeat against England. In general, you should avoid criticizing the country and never disparage religion. Although Catholicism was abolished as a state religion in 1955, around 90% of Argentinians are still Catholic.
Depending on your country of origin, you will need to get used to Argentinian mealtimes. Lunch is taken between one and three or even four o’clock. A business dinner often doesn’t start until 10 pm. If you cannot hold out until then, try eating a snack to tide you over so that you don’t arrive at the restaurant with a growling stomach.
Argentinian food is strongly influenced by Italian cuisine. If you are vegetarian, it will be easy to find suitable pasta dishes or empanadas, which are pasta pockets with different fillings.
Otherwise, Argentina is all about eating meat. This is not surprising; Argentina is world-famous for its high-quality cattle breeding. Argentinian cattle are raised largely under natural conditions, and the high quality of Argentine beef appeals first and foremost to the Argentinians themselves: with a per capita consumption of almost 70 kilograms, they are the world leaders in eating beef.
Your business partners might invite you to an asado, a typical Argentine barbecue that can last up to half a day. If they do, accept with pleasure. Argentinians are true masters of the art of barbecuing. Elaborate preparations are part of the ritual, so don’t show up half-starved as it can take a while before any food is ready to eat. But you’ll see: it’ll definitely have been worth the wait!
Red wine is served as a matter of course with lunch. There is excellent red wine produced in Argentina. After all, Argentina is considered to be the most important wine country in South America. Be sure to praise the good wine; your hosts will be delighted!