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    Food And Friends In Argentina

    These past few weekends, I have found myself attending a variety of local events in Mendoza, including an asado, a traditional barbecue, and a family lunch to celebrate my host mom’s birthday. Not only have I been eating very well, but I have also made some connections with local Mendocinos, and I am very excited about it.

     

    Our Spanish professor arranged an asado for our HWS group and a group of her students who are currently studying English. We previously met this group after going into her class to speak with them, and immediately after meeting them for the first time, several students came up to us and gave us their numbers. One even invited us to her birthday party!

    Our professor told us to come to the asado at noon, so we did. How we forgot about the laid-back South American culture, I don’t know, but we were there before anyone else. Our professor arrived at 2 pm, and slowly we started cooking the meat and eating around 3 pm. A student brought his keyboard and serenaded us, and we chatted with the students, in both English and Spanish, while eating more slabs of meat than one can imagine. An asado is exactly that, along with vegetables, pasta salads, and bread.

    We ate very slowly and, again, we were reminded of the very relaxed, slow-paced lifestyle in Argentina. It was as if a new slab of meat came off the grill every 15 minutes and we ate food nonstop from 3 pm to 5 pm. There had to be at least 6 different cakes for us, which we ate alongside our professors and the Spanish students.

    This past week, we even spotted one of the Spanish students out at night, who also recognized us and then later introduced us to her friends, one of whom invited us to his graduation party in December!

     

    More recently, I went to a lunch at my host uncle’s house to celebrate my host mom’s birthday. We had the most delicious chicken that was cooked in their very own churrasquera, a specific type of grill used for cooking asados that many Mendocinos have in their backyards. We had delicious potatoes, carrots, salad, and bread to top off the chicken. As you can probably guess, we had ice cream, followed by a strawberry shortcake and a meringue cake as well.

    At this birthday lunch, which practically comprised of enough food to compensate for my dinner as well, I met a girl who lived in Spain but moved to Mendoza with her family for her father’s job. I was immediately intrigued. Especially since there are so many Spanish and Italian immigrants in Mendoza, it was exciting to hear her perspective on living in South America compared to Europe.

    In addition to the abundance of family, friends, and food, I noticed a particularly interesting tradition at this birthday. We turned out to also be celebrating one of my host cousin’s 18th birthdays. His head was completely shaved, and I had absolutely no idea why. Only in Argentina do boys shave their heads for the 18th birthday, the age that marks their newfound abilities to drive, vote, and drink alcohol.

     

    Overall, the food and the people here are great. We also have a free lunch period on Tuesdays and use our time to explore some of Mendoza’s best restaurants. I am hoping to come back to the States knowing how to cook empanadas and bake chocotortas with dulce-de-leche, a cake that I would die for, and I don’t even like chocolate cakes. Not to mention, the wine here is absolutely amazing. Known for its Malbec, Argentina has also allowed me to fall in love with its wineries and now I have a new appreciation for red wines.

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