Ask Arlene…About Food at The Milonga

Dear Arlene

I often get a bit peckish during the milongas and I really wish that someone could come round selling those delicious Argentinian pasties known as Empanadas. I have tried the tea and cakes at the crypt and I find it’s all a bit WI – a bit at odds with the exociticsm of the dance and more in tune with pensioners Old Time dancing on a Thursday afternoon. I have looked up the recipe for beef empanadas on the internet and theres a great one on the bbc website. Could you organise this Arlene ? (sssh! A woman called Tina who helps out at the Crypt knows how to make them)

Todo Bien

Dear Todo Bien,

If you haven’t already, I suggest you read my first post on Personal Hygiene.

We are not in Buenos Aires where you can order a meal and have a dance.

I personally have never found the dance to be exotic and at odds with cake.  I love cake and am particularly fond of the tea and cakes at The Crypt.  On the El Once nights, Paul’s bakes the cakes himself and they are very yummy, a good source of carbs for all the dancing, and most importantly, they don’t give you bad breath like an empanada would.  You all know how I feel about BB and smells!

Every once in awhile the organisers of the Milongas have food for a special event, which I think is great.  I always pack my toothbrush anyway so if I am eating something I wouldn’t normally eat on a Milonga night, I make sure I use the facilities to clean my teeth and have the breath mints or chewing gum at the ready, but I still worry about being offensive.  My big issue is when the organisers leave flavoured crisps on the tables.  Why can’t they use plain, salted crisps?  I think I may have unintentionally insulted someone a couple of years ago when I asked him if he tucked into the crisps, as all I could smell was cheese and onion!  He hasn’t danced with me since.

So, the answer to your question is ‘no’.

16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Deby
    Mar 28, 2009 @ 12:19:32

    Just so you know, some of the milongas here in Buenos Aires serve pan dulce or panattone to the guests. So we eat cake too.

  2. Nick
    Mar 28, 2009 @ 12:57:28

    Hi Deby, they are obviously Italian cakes (as tango is mainly Italian… lol). Their spelling should be: “pan dolce” and “panettone”. The pan dolce is from Liguria, panettone from Milan.

  3. fatty arbuckle
    Mar 28, 2009 @ 17:58:50

    Like you I love cake too but I wouldnt mind an empanada or two if they were going at the milongas.

    FA x

  4. Voice of Reason
    Mar 28, 2009 @ 18:36:46

    Dear Arlene

    Like you, I too like the sound of eating cake and dancing, not at the same time you understand. I would not stop there, as I would love to operate a small venue where eating savoury food was also possible. Empanadas are possible, but I would go further. I would set up an indoor barbecue for Argentinian Steaks and Kebabs; these are my favourites. At Bridget and Leonardo’s old Friday milonga in Wimbledon there was a man who came along once and made crepes which were delicious and cheap. No one complained about bad breath, gaseous emissions or the size of the portions.
    In short it satisfied one of the basic needs people have, especially when they are short of time before going to the tango. The tango satisfies the other needs.

    So Todo Bien – Food at Milonga’s? Why not? You know it makes sense! Just don’t forget your toothbrush or a change of clothes. Even if your not eating. You may still need them. If you feel that you would like some help to arrange this I would love to suggest some people. However, not on line as this may be something we could discuss. If you want to talk more, I will be at the Crypt tonight. Bring some Empanadas and I will follow my nose.

    Peace out

    VOR xx

  5. fatty arbuckle
    Mar 28, 2009 @ 21:54:34

    Hey VOR

    Am already lovin the sound of your barbie. But can you add on some genuine spicy Argentinian Chorizo because this is MY personal favourite. I know its not good for the BB but hey lets forget tango for a minute – this is turning into a full on Food Fest!

    Bring it on. Fatty

  6. El Chupacabra
    Mar 28, 2009 @ 22:46:06

    One of the London milongas does lovely real home made food – mostly Italian .. roast potatos, breads, dips, pizza-like bites, grilled vegetables .. it is always a treat! And when they don’t do special food nights, they usually have tea, coffee, soup and bread.

    Personally, I would love milongas to be a bit more “restaurant” and less “pub”.

  7. fatty arbuckle
    Mar 29, 2009 @ 00:25:31

    Hey Chuwie

    Spill man, Don’t leave me salivating Hombre. Do they do a barbie? Perhaps some chorizo? Tell us more,

    Fatty A

  8. Todo Bien
    Mar 29, 2009 @ 00:42:01

    Dear Arlene
    Thanks for all your input and also from everyone. I suppose I always like something small like an empanada, I think its just the thing for tango. Cake leaves me a bit gassy mind you so does the empanada, At least it packed with natural protein and some damn tasty meat.

    Todo Bien

  9. Fatty Arbuckle
    Mar 29, 2009 @ 00:52:25

    I agree with Arlene that Paul does bake a really good cake especially his chocolate brownies. And they are far superior to those Mr Kipplings that are on offer on the alternative Saturday night!!! I do have one complaint though and that is the size of the portions. I always have to go back for seconds and it makes me feel greedy especially when I m trying to ask some attractive tango babe for a dance. Do you think if I asked him Paul would consider making empanadas instead of chocolate brownies? No wait I really like those chocolate brownies. On second thoughts do you think he would make both ? Or alternatively, since Nikki doesnt bake cakes but buys in Mr Kipplings – perhaps she would have the time to cook the empanadas. Tina could help her with the recipe as Todo Bien says.


  10. sallycat
    Mar 29, 2009 @ 00:58:34

    Hi A.

    I love it that we can get food (and usually with table service) in so many milongas in BsAs… in some places very decent full meals (Club Sunderland for example). My personal fave is tucking in to the usually very sickly cake at La Milonguita around 1am… it’s different every time but sometimes has strange green icing and always dulce de leche! Mmmmm just thinking about it makes me want to head there tomorrow night… deeelicious!
    C. on the other hand loves the choripán (parilla grilled real meat hot dog type thing, mentioned by fatty arbuckle above) on offer at La Calesita in summer. He usually wolfs down at least two before dancing a single step!
    Mints in the bag? Essential.

    Hope to try the Crypt cakes when I’m back in the UK! Or maybe you guys will have the full BBQ going by then eh? Now C. would love that!


  11. Fatty Arbuckle
    Mar 29, 2009 @ 01:54:18

    Dear Arlene

    While we are on the subject of food I was at a milonga the other night when I was offered a box of chocolates to select a chocolate from. It was a double layered box of chocolates (although some had already gone from the top layer).
    My question : is there a chocolate box protocol at milongas when put in this situation.
    Do I just pick one out like Forest Gump and hope for the best? Obviously, the last thing I want is a nut in my mouth, even chocolate coated. This could cause swelling in some people like myself if you had a nut allergy. I really want to know:
    a) Should I lift the box up to look at the contents on the bottom and risk spilling some out. I realise that this can look inelegant and people may think I am trying to attract other sweet toothed dancers.
    b) Should I take out both trays and then turn the box upside down safely or
    c) should I wait until no oe is looking and stick the box in my bag and eat them all later (not the nuts though).

    I just don’t want to look stupid again. What do you think ?


  12. Arlene
    Mar 29, 2009 @ 06:59:46

    Hey Fatty,

    If you have nut allergies, you should really stay away from the chocolate, unless you are absolutely sure that they are allergy free.

  13. Voice of Reason
    Mar 30, 2009 @ 00:09:28

    Hey Fatty

    I wondered what happened to that box of chocolates. It was very nice of you to leave the nuts unmolested. I thought that there was a guide inside on the lid.


  14. Lucio Tapia
    Mar 30, 2009 @ 11:08:10

    Hello Arlene
    i must thank you for this page, is great! and very funny, i am having great fun reading your comments, and it served me to understand why people of other countries love/live tango,
    as you probably noticed at this point my english is not so good, that is because i´m an argentine musician of tango who is going to London again, and trying to play tangos somewhere, so i was looking at the web for tango places in london, and i must say your page was the one, at a moment that i was trying to organize my visit there and my head was buzzing
    by the way, i had several months of tango dance lessons in Buenos Aires, my city, without almost any progress, maybe because as we say in our country “el que toca no baila” (the one who plays, doesn´t dance) so i belong to a category of milongero that you didn´t have included in your list with punctuation (wich was very funny and confirmed me that we ,the people, are the same in every place) , so i´m a milongero who sit on a table whit a glass of red wine in a hand, speaking whit my colleages musicians and sometimes playing, and trying not to look too much to the ladyes because if i do, they believe y try to dance whit her and start whit the “cabeceo” (do you know what is this?)
    so sorry, i can hardly dance, anyway i now how to cock empanadas in the original way, and i can let the recipe, but maybe in another ocassion because a milenary secret like this can´t be given just like that, at least not without a little beggin
    so, as you encourage people to ask things, and you seems to be a very nice person, my question is if you can tell me in which places i can offer myself to play my tangos for dance



  15. Sophie
    Mar 30, 2009 @ 14:23:25

    I do know for a fact that the coffee and cakes offered in certain milongas are one of the reasons some people attend those rather than the competition. So note to milonga organisers: don’t undersestimate the power of food… or of coffee! Friends of mine have taken it to sneak in flasks of their favourite hot drink to help them stay awake through the night… Hot food would be great – rather than the dodgy sandwich/kebab shops around the milongas (if any… hello, Clerkenwell…). After all, we can’t dance until the 1st train on an empty stomach!


  16. Fatty Arbuckle
    Apr 17, 2009 @ 23:27:02

    Hola Arlena

    While dancing tango recently in Tenerife, I came across the concept of ‘Nibbles’. On every table at the milonga there were plates of chorizo, crisps and mini chips called chipples and peanuts. An added incentive was Papas Arragadas and red mojo for those who like a little spice. They were very tasty and added zest to an already zestful experience. This definately beats Mr Kiplings fondant fancies and cup cakes !


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