Post Tagged with "Argentina"

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.


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Argentinean customs: the penguin shaped pitcher

Submarino, anyone?

Argentinean customs: street coffee vendors

November 19, 2013 1 comment

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.


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Retracing the Journey of Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Afro-Argentineans: where are they?

Religious diversity in Argentina

September 25, 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

Picture Postcards: Historical place in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Today’s photo of the Palacio Barolo building in Buenos Aires was sent to us by our Contributing Editor, Ana. She has added this description:

Luis Barolo, an Italian industrialist, moved to Argentina in 1890. He later
hired architect Mario Palanti (1885-1979) to design and build and apartment
building in the Art Nouveau style inspired by Dante’s Divina Commedia.
When it was finished in 1923, the 22 storey building was the tallest in
Latin America. Today, this historic building is a landmark of the city of
Buenos Aires.

More historical places:
Place de l’Alma in France
The Arch of Triumph in Bucharest
Spanish Missions in San Antonio, Texas

April 8, 2013 Comments disabled

Picture Postcards: Street scene in Buenos Aires, Argentina

This street scene is from Plaza Dorrego in the neighbourhood of San Telmo, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Every Sunday, there is an antique  and arts and crafts market in the plaza. The atmosphere is very lively, wand it includes a few tango shows. This photo, however, was taken on a weekday, when fewer sellers tout their wares and the area is a lot quieter.


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Picture Postcards: Street scene in Shimla, India

Picture Postcards: Street scene in Montmartre, Paris, France  

Picture Postcards: Street scene in Ulgii, Mongolia

March 4, 2013 Comments disabled

Summer holidays in Argentina

Traditionally, Argentineans take their annual leave in the months of January or February, the summer months in the Southern Hemisphere. By law, employees have ten days annual leave (two weeks) and five days are added every five years they stay on the job. If they change jobs, they have to start all over again.

The mountains and rivers attract many holidaymakers but the most popular destination for summer holidays by far is the beach. People come from all over the country to the beaches of Buenos Aires. The city of Mar del Plata is probably the oldest beach resort in the country and it’s where my family and I used to go every year (actually, my family still does!). Families rent a house or an apartment for a fortnight, pack their buckets and spades and make for the beach.

Beach resorts get crowded especially in January: there are long lines at service stations, at restaurants, even at the bus stops! You can see bodies lying in the sun for miles, people treading over them, vendors touting their wares, the health-conscious power walking or jogging along, suffers (where allowed) carrying their surfboards and changing into wetsuits. It doesn’t seem very relaxing but each to their own, right?

Far away, the cities are blessedly free of crowds and traffic jams for two months. The quiet is almost deafening.


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An effervescent summer in Bucharest

It’s not summer till you camp

Summer solstice celebrations in France

January 3, 2013 Comments disabled