Una Picada

I didn’t have it in me to cook dinner on Saturday, so I made una picada instead. Every time we eat like this for dinner we  mumble in between bites of cheese and prosciutto and crackers that we should do this more often. I don’t know why we don’t.

A picada (pee-káh-dah) is something to nibble on before dinner or a main meal. More often than not, the picada becomes the meal and the meal becomes what distends your stomach and gives you indigestion. For my mom, the picada is as important as the meal. She passed that neurosis on to me, so it’s not unusual for me to have 5 or 6 plates of finger foods–not including nuts or cheese–set out before a celebratory dinner.

A typical picada for us will have salami, ham, prosciutto, a plate of cheeses, my mom’s blue cheese spread, hearts of palm with dressing, chips, empanadas, sandwiches de miga, and one or two bowls of nuts because even gluttons need omega-3s, antioxidants, protein, and fiber.

As you can see, Saturday night wasn’t so extravagant. I didn’t even bother to remove the meats, cheeses, and dips from their store packaging and onto my extensive picada serving plates, something I will hear about on my mother’s deathbed if fate is cruel and she sees this picture.  I admit, this is hardly fair representation for Argentina’s version of tapas. I’ll have to redeem myself by hosting, and then posting, a true picada. This was a pale, pathetic excuse for a picada. It was more of a pic…, or as my mother would say, “A tiny little drop in my ocean.”

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  1. Don’t know anything about una picada, but we do this too only with reggiano, pepperoni, and crackers. That picture also reminds me of a yummy meal I had at a Fado restaurant in Portugal. Love me some meat and cheese.

  2. Looks lovely. I love meals when you can pretty much just pick and mix what you want to eat and end up with a pretty mad mix, food stacked high on a usually way too small cracker in my case.
    I’m crazy for cheese platters, crackers, fruit and chutneys. Makes me happy 🙂

  3. Looks great to me! It leads me to ask if you are still dealing with changes in your daily nutrition? I did not want to use the word “diet” since it implies losing weight, and I thought your food choices were more based on feeling good, avoiding stomach aches, etc. I honestly can’t recall what you were eating, except for greek yogurt, clementines, flaxseed and dates, which is now the breakfast that I carry to work with me and eat around 10 am!! I love it. I actually like dates, but my husband bought the utility size at costco so he coule emulate dates wrapped in bacon, an hors d’oeuvres we had at a black tie dance in november (excellent combo of sweet and savory). Just when I was thinking what the heck are we going to do with this supersize supply of dates, I saw your blog about your yummy concoction. Since I already eat Greek yogurt daily, this was an easy leap to make. Did you have any idea your influence would be so widespread?? Now I will be announcing une picada for dinner. . . . .would love to have you post more on food ideas, recipes, etc. Just once in a while to inspire us in the doldrums of cooking the same old thing.

    • I am still dealing with changes! I’m reading a book right now (just bought it today, actually) about a life without diets of any kind. I’ll wait and see how I like it before I recommend it, but, yes, my goal is to eat like a normal person. 🙂

  4. I had never heard of una picada before but it sounds right up my alley. Sometimes I’ll do a dinner where I pull all the snack-y things out, like carrots and hummus, apple and peanut butter, nuts and raisins, cheese, bread, etc. and we’ll eat that kind of informally. I definitely need to incorporate prosciutto into my spread!

  5. This sounds amazing and it’s making me hungry! I am gonna have to try this at my house soon… I bet it will go over great with the hubs!!!

  6. It looks fantastic to me. Some of my favorite meals are ones with friends around a table spread with what I call “Jesus food”. Hummus and bread, dates, pomegranates, cheeses, olives, etc. I always feel perfectly satisfied after that kind of meal.

  7. Wow who knew being too lazy to cook (which we are often) is actually a real “thing”! We do this all the time with whatever we have in the house that will work. And we say the same thing! It’s always so delicious we wonder why we don’t eat like that every night! Although I cannot imagine eating all that and then eating a complete proper dinner! Because this way we still have room for dessert! 🙂

    • I was thinking that it should be a traditional Saturday thing. I mean, weekends are so busy as it is. It’s nice to know you don’t have to worry about what to make for dinner.

  8. Not Argentinian, but we’ve always done something similar and it’s become a compulsion. Yesterday we had a few people over for lunch and I told myself, rationally, that I did not need to provide appetizers for a lunch that was going to be sandwiches and salad. 30 minutes before they were due to arrive, I found myself running to the store to get some crackers. I just couldn’t handle not having some food out for pre-meal snacking and chatting. Crackers + dates + cheeses + nuts is our standard spread for pre-meal with guests, and we frequently make it the entire meal when it’s just the two of us. There’s just something so comforting about it.

    • Two weeks ago we had my husband’s sister and her new husband over for dinner since they were visiting for Christmas. It was completely last minute, and I promised myself I would keep it simple since it was right before Christmas and I had nothing ready for the holidays. I didn’t serve picada and I really thought the world was going to end. It felt so odd, so uncomfortable that I don’t think I will do that again. By trying to keep it simple, I ended up stressing myself out.

  9. It looks delicious. I could eat that for breakfast.
    Crackers and cheese always reminds me of Sunday night tea time as a child when it was ‘get your own tea’ in our house. Looking back, I’m most impressed at how my mother presented that as an enormous treat! Though actually my children would be more than happy to raid the fridge…
    But anyway, it was always cheese and crackers, though in 1970’s England it also always involved squeezy cheese out of a tube (with added prawn flavour for sophistication) along sticks of celery, Spam, tinned corned beef and some cold tinned baked beans.
    And people say the British have no culinary heritage to offer.

    • Yes, of course! It’s basically a compound butter. You take roughly equal parts blue cheese and softened butter (NOT melted) and mix them together with a fork or mixer. Depending on how pungent your blue cheese is, you will more or less cheese than butter. That’s it! You spread it over slices of french bread or crackers. Insanely good.

  10. We do this! However, in my midwestern home, we enjoy crackers, cheddar cheese and venison summer sausage on Fridays after work, with a cocktail. A bit less refined but just as satisfying!

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