Locro

locro

(Local Locro: Chris Ford)

Every 25th of May, Argentinian locals celebrate the May Revolution in 1810 that led to the country’s independence from Spain in 1816. It is a national holiday, and for celebratory purposes, traditional food, perfect for the colder weather of autumn and winter days, is prepared for the occasion. Such is the case with locro, a thick winter slow-cooked stew rooted in the country’s often overlooked indigenous heritage.

Called ruqru in the Quechua language, this soup has white corn (hominy) and white beans as its base ingredients, and is prepared with winter vegetables such as pumpkin, carrots, potatos, sweet potatos and a variety of meats including stewing meat, pork, bacon and other variants.

A great place to join in the local 25 de Mayo celebrations and try locro is Feria de Mataderos where there will also be traditional music and dances. Otherwise, you can find a list of suggested places to eat locro here.

Todos los 25 de mayo, los argentinos celebran la Revolución de Mayo de 1810 que condujo a que el país se independizara de españa en 1816. La fecha es un feriado nacional, y, con el motivo de festejar, se preparan platos típicos, ideales para los días más frescos del otoño y el invierno. Uno de esos platos es el locro, una sopa sustanciosa que se cocina a fuego lento, y que tiene su origen en las tradiciones, a veces olvidadas, de las comunidades indígenas nativas. 

Conocida como ruqru en quechua, la sopa está hecha a base de poroto y maíz blanco, combinado con vegetales de estación tales como zapallo, zanahoria, batata y papa, y también con distintos cortes de carne vacuna y de cerdo. 

Quienes quieran probarlo y participar de otros festejos tradicionales relacionados a la fecha patria, pueden acercarse a la Feria de Mataderos. Si no, también pueden pasar a probar locro en uno de los lugares recomendados en esta lista. 

Mate: A Community Tradition

(Photo by Evelyn Proimos)

A bitter beverage brewed from the leaves of the Yerba Mate has been circulating Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay from before the Colonization. Drinking mate has become a  kept tradition of the Guarani Indians, carried out in a ritual and collective form.
Popular belief states that the Guaranies planted Yerba Mate on the burial sites of their loved ones. As the plant grew, they collected the leaves and brewed mate with it which they shared in a round with their families. It was their belief that the spirit of their deceased would grow with the plant and seep through the beverage into their own bodies.  Many other legends exist around this infusion drank from a calabash gourd through a metal straw, but despite diferent versions it has allways been a tradition valuing the preservation of the culture and sharing amongst the community.

Throughout the colonization, the many cultural and social changes, and the large waves of immigration that the country has gone through, this custom has remained and has been adopted to a larger or lesser degree by all, having become a symbol of local identity and really keeping a piece of the Guarani alive.  The mate culture has many peculiarities, such as considering the first fresh mate to be the “fools mate” because it is still too bitter.   The custom of sharing mate in a round has also been kept and has made this drink more than just an antioxidant packed infusion. Rather, it is a tradition which brings people together to share a beautiful and ancient ritual that comes from the land.

Would you like to know how to brew your own mate? Click here.

How to Make a Typical Argentine Asado

Making a good asado is an art that any proud Argentine man must master (although there are women that make great asado too!).  For this task, two elements are key, one, is the technique used for lighting the fire and the elements that will go in it (coal, wood chips…), and secondly is the knowledge of the different meat cuts and the different cooking points. Obviously, a tradition that is practiced and transmitted from generation to generation involves many different techniques which can’t all be mastered overnight, but you´ve got to start somewhere, so here it goes!

1- Clean the surface on which you will cook the meat.

2-Make 5-6 paper balls by crumpling newspaper.

3-Make a small wooden ‘building’  or jenga like structure around the paper balls using a discarded vegetable box or pieces of light wood. Make sure to leave enough space between the pieces of wood so that some air can pass through and enough open room on top so that you can later light the paper balls.

4-Put a circular pile of coal around the wood. (In the video, the coals were placed directly under the grill and under twigs so the fire spread and caught on.)

5-Light the paper balls making sure to watch if the twigs are lighting up.

6- Wait for the coal to catch and once the fire is out move some of the hot embers below the grill.

7- Start placing the meat, chorizos and other ‘achuras’ you may have decided to try (for a translation of meat cuts go here.)

8-Supervise the bottom of the meats and turn them around when they are toasty until the other side is toasty too. Add burning coal where you feel necessary, but keep in mind, asado is slow cooking method. Also keep in mind that some cuts and achuras cook faster than others. (Chorizos for example usually come out of the grill first).

9-Enjoy!