Wednesday, April 25, 2012

My experiment with making locro

Although I was disappointed with the locro that I had at El Rancho in Cafayate, it was delicious at Cumaná in Buenos Aires, and I was determined to try to make it soon after getting home to DC.  This is the adaptation that I tried after consulting various online sources.  It turned out great.

I served it with a home-made chimichurri sauce, mostly because I was anxious to try to make that sauce too after all the good experiences we had with it in Uruguay and Argentina.  The recipes I saw tended to suggest a different sauce, made with sauteed onion, garlic, paprika and cayenne.  Next time I have in mind to do both.  And in retrospect, more squash would have been good, and maybe more added for the last part of the cooking along with the extra corn and cannellini.  The recipes I saw called for hominy in addition to yellow corn, and I might well try that too.

4 corn cobs, cooked, kernels stripped
4 cans cannellini beans, drained
1 pound beef strips, cut in small pieces
1-1/2 pounds thick pork chops, cut in small pieces
1 pound bacon, cut in small pieces, then cooked, fat reserved
4 links chorizo, cooked, then cut in small pieces
1.5 pounds onion, coarsely chopped
a few cloves of garlic, minced
most of one medium sized butternut squash, chopped into smallish pieces
3 medium potatoes, chopped into small cubes
1 sweet potato, chopped into small cubes
2-3 tablespoons of cumin seed
1 tablespoon paprika
½ teaspoon cayenne

I preheated the oven at 350°.

I sauteed the onions and garlic in the bacon fat, then drained the fat.  I put everything except two cans of beans and kernels from two of the cobs into a heavy-duty pot, stirred thoroughly, covered with water with about an inch of water above the solids, and baked, covered, for about 4 hours, stirring very occasionally.  When I opened to stir, I checked to be sure there was still water atop the solids.  It had cooked away at one point so I added more water.

After roughly four hours of this, I stirred the pot once more. By now, much of the squash and some of the other vegetable matter had disintegrated.  I then added the rest of the beans and corn, and baked uncovered for about 2 hours.  I did not have to add any water at this point to keep the stew moist.  But when I was ready to serve there was no longer any water sitting on top.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A tour of the Quebrada de Cafayate

On our first full day in Cafayate, we toured the Quebrada de Cafayate, also known as the Quebrada de las Conchas because it follows the Rio de las Conchas.  Full credit to the Puna Turismo agency, through which we booked the tour, and especially to Marcelo, the tour leader.

Our first stop was this set of rocks (not signed so far as I could see).

 Marcelo took us on an exploration of the rocks was he explained the area's geology as well as discussing the plants were were seeing.  Because the explanation was in Spanish, we only caught some of this :-(

 We marveled at some of the amazing rock formations

Rock formations with windows in Quebrada de Cafayate
and walked into narrow canyons for a closer look
Canyon in Quebrada de Cafayate

Our tour in one of the canyons in Quebrada de Cafayate 
This formation is called Castillos, or castles

Los Castillos in Quebrada de Cafayate
And this is the official Las Ventanas:
Las Ventanas in Quebrada de Cafayate
This one, called The Obelisk, is ringed by a fence as a warning not to climb on the rock:
El Obelisco in Quebrada de Cafayate
Some amazing color variations in the rocks

Greens, and even blues

I liked these little cactuses
Marcelo told us that the reason for the fence around this next feature, El Sapo (the toad), was a different one -- that there used to be two, but the other one hopped right onto the road and got schmushed by a passing car

Here is the Rio de las Conchas looking southward from near El Sapo
Finally, we approached the last two, and perhaps the most dramatic features of the Quebrada -- the Amphitheatre (Anfiteatro) and The Devil's Throat or Garagantua del Diablo -- a rather drier affair than the version we had seen a few days before at Iguazu.
The Amphitheatre in Quebrada de Cafayate

The Amphitheatre is a small slot canyon with nice acoustics, allowing musical performances, as demonstrated by one tour participant who  had brought along his guitar and gave an impromptu performance for us
The Amphitheatre in Quebrada de Cafayate
The Amphitheatre in Quebrada de Cafayate
The Amphitheatre in Quebrada de Cafayate
Finally, the Gargantua, where we could climb through the rocks\
Gargantua del Diablo in Quebrada de Cafayate
The path took us up the rock face where tour guide Marcelo in standing, showing the proper foot placements

Gargantua del Diablo  in Quebrada de Cafayate
and around the corner to the right that can be seen in this photo
Gargantua del Diablo  in Quebrada de Cafayate
Looking back down to the bottom of the Throat
Gargantua del Diablo  in Quebrada de Cafayate

Gargantua del Diablo  in Quebrada de Cafayate

Monday, April 23, 2012

Art in the Subways of Buenos Aires

Public art in Buenos Aires was not limits to the walls and streets; it could also be seen on the walls of the city's subway or Subte.  Not every station is decorated, but well over half of the stations we visited over the course of three days of using the subway had murals built into the walls and sometimes the floors. The tile-work on many of the stairways was also impressive.

The Plaza Italia station  had a few tiled plaques on the floor and walls:

Floor decoration, Plaza Italia station on Buenos Aires Subte

Wall decoration, Plaza Italia station on Buenos Aires Subte
We saw these tiled murals in the Bulnes station
Tiled mural in Bulnes station on Buenos Aires Subte

Tiled mural in Bulnes station on Buenos Aires Subte
Tiled mural in Bulnes station on Buenos Aires Subte
Changing lines at the Diagonal Norte station, the corridors were lined with this nice tile:

Tile in corridor connecting two lines in Estacion Diagonal Norte, Buenos Aires Subte
This mural was on the wall of that station:
Mural in the Diagonal Norte Station,  Buenos Aires
And this one is in the Independencia station:
Mural in the Independencia Station,  Buenos Aires
We spotted this tile with an Arabic-looking line along the stairway into a station, I think the Independencia station:

My notes don't show which station had this mural, but I think it is the opposite side of the Independencia station from the mural pictured above.  Both were cityscapes of Spain.
This smaller design is in the Avenida de Mayo station:
Mural in Avenida de Mayo station, Buenos Aires Subte
 This black and white, cartoonish mural was sui generis:

Here is another variant on the entry corridor, at the San Juan station:
Stair case into San Juan station, Buenos Aires Subte
These are the murals in that station:
Tiled mural in San Juan station, Buenos Aires Subte

Tiled mural in San Juan station, Buenos Aires Subte
The last station we visited was Retiro.  I could not find any large murals, but there was a collection of smaller works, more like paintings, such as these:
Tiled picture in Retiro Station on the Buenos Aires Subte

Tiled picture in Retiro Station on the Buenos Aires Subte

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Street art in Buenos Aires, part 3

This next photo is a different kind of street art -- an enormous silhouette of Evita Peron the adorns the Ministry of Health and Social Development (originally, the Ministry of Public Works) along Avenida el 9 de Julio in Buenos Aires
Ministry of Health and Social Development in Buenos Aires
While walking around Buenos Aires, we encountered several tiled memorials inlaid in the sidewalks, paying homage to leftists who were detained and "disappeared" by the military junta

Memorial to the disappeared embedded in a Buenos Aires sidewalk
Memorial to Chileans victimized by the rightwing governments in Chile and Argentina,
The second memorial above is embedded in the sidewalk in front of the Chilean Consulate in Buenos Aires, on Diagonal Norte Avenida Saenz Peña Nº 547.

And then there were the street paintings, drawn onto the pedestrian bridge over Avenida Presidente Figueroa Alcorte in the Recoleta barrio

Bridge over Avenida Presidente Figueroa Alcorte - north side
Bridge over Avenida Presidente Figueroa Alcorte - south side

Bridge over Avenida Presidente Figueroa Alcorte - south side
Like the street painting on the pedestrian bridge above, this mural along Avenida de Mayo in the Congreso Barrio mentions "Malvinas."
Mural along Avenida de Mayo
References to the Malvinas -- known to the English-speaking world as the Falkland Islands -- were pervasive in Buenos Aires.  I myself have mixed feelings about this issue, having formed my initial impression during the fight in the early 1980's between England, a democratic country albeit one run by right-wing leadership, against an Argentina ruled by right-wing military thugs who were plainly trying to distract their citizens from the government's economic failures through nationalistic appeals.  I have wrestled with the question whether I should see things differently today, recognizing that England's control of the islands is a vestige of the imperialist era.  In the end, though, I still cannot get over the fact that the current residents of the islands seem to approve their current status.