Picture Postcards: The Great Outdoors in Argentina

Today’s photo was taken by our Contributing Editor, Ana, who says,

This photo was taken at the beach resort town of Mar del Plata in Argentina.
The summer months of January and February are the most popular with
beachgoers, who clearly don’t mind large crowds.

Argentinian Customs: asado al asador
Argentinian Customs: Street coffee vendors
The Legend of the Irupé

November 25, 2013 Comments disabled

Argentinean customs: asado al asador

Beef has been central to Argentinean cuisine since time immemorial. We like our meat grilled slowly over embers, never over open flame, to let the flavour develop. Nowadays, most people use a traditional charcoal grill (parilla), in which they lay the meat, sausages and sometimes offal (chitterlings, sweetbreads, black pudding) flat on the metal grille over the charcoal embers (brasas.)

However, the traditional method used by the gauchos -and still used on special occasions- is the asado al asador or en cruz.

Asado (Argentiean barbeque) al asador in the making

Asado (Argentinean barbeque) al asador in the making (photo courtesy of my dad)

Whole racks of short ribs or lamb or pork are skewered in cross-shaped metal frames (from where the name a la cruz comes), which is then dug in an open pit. The meat is kept at a distance from the flames so that it doesn’t get charred (we don’t like char) but slowly cooked to delicious golden perfection.


Read more

Argentinean customs: the penguin shaped pitcher

Submarino, anyone?

Argentinean customs: street coffee vendors

November 19, 2013 1 comment

Watch world movies online for free: dialogue of cultures film festival

From 1 to 14 November 2013 the 2nd Dialogue of Cultures International film festival is online. You can stream movies from Morocco, Portugal, Argentina, Philippines, Spain, Egypt, France, United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Austria and Kazakhstan.

She, a Chinese, directed by Xiaolu Guo


November 6, 2013 Comments disabled

The Jewish gauchos of Argentina

Different waves of immigrants from around the world brought their language, culture and traditions to Argentina. These factors intermingled and helped create the country’s identity. One of those groups that helped shape our culture was that of the Russian Jews, who became known as the Jewish gauchos.

In 1889, a group of Russian Jews decided to escaped the certainty of violence of the pogroms in the Ukraine for the uncertainty of a new life in a faraway land. They travelled first to Paris, where they bought some tracts of land, sight unseen, in Argentina.

A building in Moises Ville, Argentina

Upon arriving in the country, they learned that the deal had fallen through and the promises of housing and agricultural implements were not kept. They had nothing and nowhere to go. They were forced to sleep in railway sheds in appalling conditions. Railway workers and passengers would give them food out of pity. Due to the unhygienic conditions and poor diet, disease broke out. Sixty children died of typhoid fever. As they didn’t have coffins or a plot of land for burials, the children’s bodies were kept in oil drums.

After a while, a few Italian colonists took on this community and took them to their colony and gave them shelter, food and even some land. Parents had brought along those oils drums and  were able to give their children a proper burial in what became the first Jewish cemetery of the region. Thus was the first Jewish colony created.

Meanwhile, in Paris, philanthropist and millionaire Baron Maurice de Hirsch and his wife Clara created the Jewish Colonization Association in memory of their son. The association’s goal was to help Jews escape from Europe and settle in peace in South America.

The Jewish Colonization Association acquired thousands of acres in Argentina, in the provinces of Santa Fe, Buenos Aires and Entre Rios and also absorbed the earlier colony. The association also brought more colonists, mainly from Russia, and provided them with land, a house and tools. These pioneers grew wheat, alfalfa, flax, rye and vegetables and also raised dairy cattle.

A school in Moises Ville

These new colonies later grew into rural towns where everyone was welcome. In Buenos Aires, Colonia Mauricio, named after Baron de Hirsch, had a flourmill, a hospital a bath and a slaughterhouse. Colonia Clara, named after Baroness de Hirsch, was founded in 1894 in the province of Entre Rios.

The oldest and largest colony was Moisés Ville, founded in 1890 by the firsts Jewish colonists ever to arrive, before the Jewish Colonization Association was founded. In 1999, Moisés Villewas declared a Historic Town and included in the national register of historic places.

In spite of its economic success, the younger generations left the town for the cities to get a university education. They became established professionals and never returned. The colony became depopulated, slowly but surely.

Nowadays, few descendants of those first pioneers, who overcame disease and adversity to flourish, still live in Moisés Ville. But the memory of those brave Jews who risked everything in their search for freedom and peace is still alive in the quiet streets.

Below is a video (in Spanish only, no subtitles) that promotes the town of Moisés Ville as a tourist destination. It’s part of the Jewish Colonies Trail.


Read more

Retracing the Journey of Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Afro-Argentineans: where are they?

Religious diversity in Argentina

September 25, 2013 Comments disabled

The legend of the irupé

Irupé (Victoria cruciana) is the Guaraní word for Victoria water lily. It grows in the rivers of Paraguay and the Argentinean Mesopotamia area. Its leaves can measure up to two metres (about six feet) in diameter and support the weight of birds and small mammals. Its flowers are white at first and then turn to red.

Photo credit: verdechaco (more…)

August 23, 2013 Comments disabled

The Jesuits in Argentina: Alta Gracia Mission

The Jesuits arrived in what is now Argentina in November 1585, first to Santiago del Estero and then south to Córdoba and east to Paraguay. They came from the Alto Perú area (modern day Perú) to Christianize and educate the local native population. They founded the Province of Paraguay  -which comprised what is now Paraguay, Brazil, Uruguay, Bolivia and Argentina-, an important social, economic and cultural network.

Thne church of Alta Gracia was built in the Baroque style


July 4, 2013 Comments disabled