On a recent trip to Argentina, I noticed an abundance of beautiful blue and green-tinted vintage seltzer bottles in markets, on restaurant tables and at people's homes. They're everywhere you look in Buenos Aires, and as I found out, are an artful reminder Argentina's love affair with carbonated water.
Seltzer is cold water–injected with carbon dioxide, and the siphon bottle keeps the water carbonated by trapping it in. You press the nozzle down, and out comes the fizzy water. Long before the guys at SodaStream developed what what would become an indispensable kitchen gadget for many in America, the Argentine were bottling seltzer in these siphon bottles and delivering them to door-to-door, much like how milk used to be delivered in the U.S. (seltzer too, if you happened to live in New York).
In Argentina, the delivery system lives on. People who deliver the water are known as "soderos," or "sifoneros." For a few dollars a month, they deliver fresh bottles to people's doorstep each month and pick up empty bottles to reuse.
The bottles are a ubiquitous part of Argentinian life. In the summer, you can spot people at cafes mixing a little bit of red wine with soda from the bottles to make a wine spritzer. A small glass of sparkling water is also always served with coffee. The soda can be mixed with Gancia (an Italian aperitif popular in Argentina) or Fernet to make the Argentinian take on an Old Fashioned.
In Buenos Aires, you can pick up a bottle at any local flea market. Just make sure to talk to the vendor first and find out if the bottle is still usable, as some are solely decorative antiques.
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