Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Still Imagining Argentina

The National Flag Memorial in the city of Rosario, Argentina.

Before leaving the Netherlands for my annual visit to Argentina, I thought it might be a good idea to ask you, the readers, what you already knew about the country and to run a sort of quizz with photos and questions. I was pleasantly surprised to read all your responses and to discover that actually, all of those who frequently visit my blog already had some previous knowledge of the country where I was born and raised.

Of course some of you, have acquired that knowledge through first-hand experience: either from your visits to Argentina or because you have lived there at some point of your lives.

Such is the case of Rebecca, for example, who married an Argentine and fell in love with the country, its people, its traditions and, of course, its food, as she explains in her blog "From Argentina, with Love", where she explores Argentinean culture and especially, Argentinean cuisine.
I found her blog some time ago by chance, while Googling names for my own blog - and a lucky find that was!
If you are curious about what we Argentineans eat, I suggest you visit her blog - you'll find there traditional recipes and tales told with flair and good humour.

Others, instead, have come to know more about Argentina directly from me. Probably, every time we meet or talk online and I happen to mention how things are different in my country, you think to yourselves, "oh-oh, here we go again!" But hey, consider it this way: I am in a manner of speaking, giving you a free Geography or History or Culture lesson ... so you are welcome! (just joking!)

In my post Imagining Argentina I shared with you a collage with photos of (rather) famous Argentinean people. Many of you could name quite a number of them. Starting from the upper left-hand corner, they are:
1) Eva Duarte de Perón, or better known as Evita, former first lady of Argentina (1946-52), political icon and legend, known for her work in favour of better conditions for the poor and for the working classes;

2) Diego Maradona, a former football player considered by many to be one of the best players of all times and also, a very controversial and newsworthy figure in my country;

3) Princess Máxima of the Netherlands (née Máxima Zorreguieta), the Argentine-born wife of Crown Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands;

4) Ernesto "Che" Guevara, an Argentinean Marxist revolutionary active in the Cuban Revolution and whom since his death has become a symbol within popular culture;

5) Gabriela Sabatini, former professional tennis player who became one of the leading players in the 1980s and 90s. She somehow became an icon of Latin beauty in her day;

6) Julio Bocca, one of the most important ballet dancers of the last part of the 20th century and certainly the most important dancer in Argentina;

7) Jorge Luis Borges, leading figure of Argentinean literature of world renown who inspired a whole generation of 20th century writers like Umberto Ecco or Paulo Coelho;

8) Astor Piazzolla, Argentinean composer and bandoneón player who transformed (some say "modernised") tango music by incorporating elements of jazz and classical music. It was to the notes of his "Adiós, Nonino" that Princess Máxima of the Netherlands wept during her wedding ceremony back in 2002;

9) Juan Martín del Potro, another professional tennis player, currently ranking number 5 on the ATP list;

10) Carlos Gardel, the most prominent figure in the history of tango.

I also posted this photo of a famous house in the city of Buenos Aires in Argentina, and I asked if you recognised it or if you had seen it before. This is the Casa Rosada (literally, Pink House), the seat of the national government in Argentina. You may have recognised the building from the film Evita in which Madonna plays the role of Eva Perón, in which you can see her (Madonna/Evita) rallying the masses from the balcony of this very government house.

My beautiful Córdoba

This mosaic of photos I posted on Imagining Argentina, shows you different places and views of the province where I was born: Córdoba. It so happens that the capital city of that province is also called Córdoba - easy to remember, don't you think?

Next week I will be posting some of the interesting and/or funny comments you wrote in that blog entry and I will try to answer your queries about Argentina, too. Stay tuned!

For now, I wish you Happiness, Prosperity and good times to last you all the year 2010 and I hope to continue enjoying your company next year!

Sunrise at the Cordón del Plata, in the Andes (Mendoza, Argentina).

Thursday, 24 December 2009

It's the time to be jolly - and to bring you up-to-date!

It's the time to be jolly and besides, an update is long overdue. Thanks to all who left comments on my last entry about Argentina and also thanks for all the good wishes for my holiday there.

I am finally back in Holland and slowly going back on Dutch-mode, as my friend Agnes told me the other day!

My two months in Argentina were just wonderful. I spent a lot of time with family and dear ones, receiving their love and care ... and their delicious food as well, as my 5 or 6 kg. overweight can attest to! But oh.... well! It was so much worth it!

Our roadtrip to the north of Argentina was the best trip I've ever taken so far. We had a couple of days of unbearable heat - up to 49°C while we were in San Miguel de Tucumán - but the landscapes and the experience were truly unforgettable! I will be soon showing you photos and sharing with you some of our adventures visiting three Argentinean provinces: Tucumán, Salta and Catamarca.

Also, I will soon be replying to the comments, questions and queries that you were so kind to post on my last blog entry,Imagining Argentina. I read them all while I was still there and I would have liked to have enough time to post new blog entries or to visit other blogs, only that time was scarce and all the holiday fun was waiting ...

Finally, I would like to wish you and your loved ones Peace and Prosperity and I hope you enjoy Christmas holiday how you wish and with whom you wish!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, 26 October 2009

Imagining Argentina*

As those of you that usually follow my blog probably already know, I am currently spending my holidays in my country, in Argentina.

It is my intention to show you the places I visit during my stay and also other places that I have been to in previous years. But before I start doing that, I thought it might be a good idea to run a sort of survey to see how much you already know about Argentina. I am sure you have at least once in your life before heard about my country? You don't need to start googling now or looking desperately for your World Atlas - we are not going back to school, people!

Let us see how much you've heard or know about my part of the world, shall we?

  • First of all - have you ever been there? I know that some of you have! You are disqualified!! (just joking)
  • Do you know where it is located? If I were to show you a map of the world, would you know where to point?
  • Do you know what is the official language spoken there?
  • Have you heard the names of any cities in Argentina? Do you, by any chance, know the name of the capital city?
  • Do you know any particular food or dish that is typically Argentinean? (you can cheat by scrolling down my older posts....)
  • Have you heard of any geographic landmarks or any popular tourist region in the country, like mountains, lakes, forests, waterfalls, etc.?
  • Have you heard of any typical Argentinean music or Argentinean musician, band, composer?
  • Have you heard of any political or historical figure,writer, scientist, footballer(!) or celebrity that you know was born in Argentina? (that excluding myself, of course! hehe)
  • Do you remember hearing about Argentina on the news in your country? And do you remember what it was you heard?

And finally,

  • Is there anything in particular you would like to know about the country or the place where I come from?
Remember, this is not school so you don't need to answer all the questions! And now a little help from your friend Aledys:

Do you know any of these Argentinean figures?

This is a famous "house" in Buenos Aires, does it look familiar at all to you?
Don't Cry, for me, if it doesn't!

These are photos of the province/city where I come from.
Do you the name of that province/city?

Have you ever seen photos or heard about any of these places?

Buenos Aires, Puerto Madero ©Maximiliano Buono

Iguazú National Park, Misiones

El Calafate National Park, Santa Cruz ©Ramón Tello

Have you ever heard of or experienced any of these things?

My father is drinking the national drink: mate

home-made dulce de leche

Tango, Buenos Aires ©Ramón Tello

Improvised asado (barbecue), Argentinean style.

empanadas, a typical filled pastry dish.

I hope you enjoyed this thread about Argentina. In future posts I will be showing you more places and things about the country, its people and its habits.


I would like to thank
Maximiliano Buono (from Buenos Aires, Argentina) and Ramón Tello (from Cariñena, Spain) for allowing me to show their pictures in this blog. Thanks guys, for your generosity.

*Imagining Argentina is the name of a film featuring Antonio Banderas and Emma Thompson and it deals with the desaparitions of people during the military government in Argentina during the ditatorship between 1976 and 1983.

Monday, 19 October 2009

North & South - Autumn & Spring

In a couple of days I will be heading south to visit my family and my friends in my country - Argentina. I will be going towards the spring then, because as you probably know, Argentina lies in South America, in the southern hemisphere.
I am quite anxious about my trip - how will I find everybody? Will I find things much changed? Of course, I am also very excited about going back home and I am looking foward to spending time with my people, visiting the places where I used to live, the place where I was born and lived most of my life and also new places where I have never been before.

Calamuchita Valley in the hills of Córdoba, Argentina; a place where I used to spend all my summer holidays.

I will stay in touch as much as I can and I will keep posting whenever I can; but, as you can imagine, I will be quite busy catching up with family and friends most of the time and my husband and I will also be making a roadtrip that will probably take about a week.

What will I miss from my second home, here in Holland? Definitely not the weather as you may well guess! But I will be missing the beautiful colours of the autumn in the Netherlands. Last year I took my holiday a bit earlier in the year and I got back just in time to capture the last of the autumnal splendor in the parks and forests near Zwolle.

Park "Het Engelse Werk", in Zwolle:

The "Zwolse Bos":

It is goodbye for now from the Netherlands and I will be writing back again from Argentina! Thank you all for your visits and your comments!

Monday, 12 October 2009

Interviewed for "Greetings from Holland"

Blogger Anita, author of "Greetings from Holland" interviewed me a couple of weeks ago for her blog. Click here to read the mini-interview!

Thanks a lot Anita, it was fun doing it!

Also, if you haven't yet visited Anita's blog, I suggest you do: in it you will find articles about interesting aspects of life in the Netherlands, all spiced up with the typical "carioca" flair of this Brazilian-born expat.

Click this link to go to "Greetings from Holland" and enjoy!

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Zwolle Culinair: the Superstreekmarkt (super regional market)

De Week van de Smaak (in English, "National Tasting Week") is a gastronomic event in the Netherlands held every year to celebrate traditional, sustainable international and local food. National Tasting Week is celebrated with hundreds of different activities in which food and local produce takes central stage. Restaurants, local producers, farmers, food shops, cookery schools - they all organise their own activities in big and small cities across the country.

This event actually started back in 1992 in France, where it is known as Le Semaine du Goût and it soon extended into other European countries. Today, the event is celebrated in Switzerland (since 2001), Belgium (since 2006) and the Netherlands (since 2007).

In Zwolle, the city where I live, National Tasting Week was celebrated with many special activities. The Dutch Tourist Office (the VVV or Vereiniging van Vreemdelingenverkeer), for example, offered during the week of 21-27 September, a gastronomic walking tour through the historic city centre, visiting some of the best restaurants and shops which held tasting sessions or had special menus especially elaborated for the occasion.

"Sunday 27 September, Welcome to the Super Regional Market"

Another big event which took place to celebrate National Tasting Day was the Superstreekmarkt (in English, the "super regional market") in which traditional local produce was displayed on the approximately 50 stalls arranged around the restaurant of the Agnietenberg camping site in Zwolle.
There, visitors could taste and buy different regional products and delicacies that are not normally found in supermarkets but in traditional winkeltjes (in English, "little shops") in the city or in farms from the region. Also, there were open cooking demonstrations, talks, poetry reading, wine tasting, etc.

The market could be easily reached by car but there were other "fun" options, like sailing from the city centre of Zwolle to the Agnietenberg by boat on board "De Gebeurtenis"; or riding in one of the fietstaxis (taxi bikes) Fiestjoe.

The taxi-bike, an environmentlly friendly means of transport in Zwolle.

Some more photos of the Superstreekmarkt in the Agnietenberg, Zwolle:

Busy day at the Super Regional Market

A tasting of cheeses, patés and jams in one of the stalls in the market.

Did you know that there are more than 180 vineyards in the Netherlands? Winegrowing is a thriving industry that contributes about 1 million of bottle per year! There is even a vineyard in my own city, in Zwolle - check their website for more information about the wines and visiting or volunteering to work during the high season: Wijngaard De Swolse Marken.

Dutch wines at the market during the National Tasting Week in Zwolle.

The wine shop Henri Bloem had an international selection of wines for the public to taste. I was pleased to discover that one of their star wines (Felino, Viña Cobos, Malbec 2008) actually came from Mendoza, the wine producing region in my country, Argentina.

The wine tasting selection at the Henri Bloem stall in the market.

Visitors could also see, taste and buy another typical delicacy from the region: smoked eel.

The mobile smokehouse of Profarm Paling, a local producer.

Smoked eel or "gerookte paling", a local delicacy.

A stall displaying typical dry sausages.

The typical sausages of a local producer.

More "lekker" (in English, "tasty") sausages.

A view of the turnout for the Super Regional Market in Zwolle.

Of course there were a couple of stalls offering a tasting of locally made cheeses:

The stall of Isseldelta Bier.

Vinaigrettes ready to go!

Cook books for those looking for inspiration.

The winter garden at the Agnietenberg, Zwolle.

There is more to come yet, in this month of October: Zwolle Culinair, an event which will take place from 23 to 25 October in Deltion College, Zwolle.

If you are curious about other gastronomic events taking place in Zwolle, visit the Zwolle, Week van de Smaak website, or the VVVZwolle (Dutch Tourist Board, Zwolle).