The many tastes(or lack thereof) in Argentina

Buenos Aires Travel Blog

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JB Boonstra

Since coming to Argentina almost 2 weeks ago, I have been disappointed in the lack of variety when it comes to meals. It seems this country has chosen a very limited selection of foods and has almost perfected what little variety they have. The major food groups here are: empanadas, steak, medialunas, and maté. Though there are a few variations taken from these four major groups, almost all food found in Buenos Aires can be placed in one of the four catagories. There are little to no vegetables included in meals and if there are, they are usually potatoes or some other starch which have very little nutrional value. Argentines definitely get the high number of servings of breads and pastas suggested by experts and then some. Often, breakfast here is nothing but bread. Medialunes and facturas (pastries) are the default cafe breakfast. Then lunch and dinner often include emanadas, which, obviously, are made with bread.  Since Argentina had a large Italian heritage, pasta and pizza are popular staples here, again both fall in the bread group. And when a poor college student goes out for a bite, he/she cannot cut costs by asking for water as they can in States. Often, water here is the same price as soft drinks, and there aren´t free refills. Experiencing the Argentine food scene has made me appreciate the variety in the US, one of the many perks of having such a culturally diverse population.

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JB Boonstra

Last Wednesday night we went as a group to Señor Tango, a restaurant and club famous for its Tango shows. We got seats on the balcony, surrounding the stage, which was a circular platform in the middle of the audience. The show started when the lights turned down and smoke started coming up from the floor. As this mist engulfed the stage, suddenly spotlights exploded and revealed three Indian warriors with bows and arrows, tip-toeing around as if hunting something. Then, out of no where, a real life horse runs through the audience and up on the stage carrying another Indian. I knew when I saw the horse that this was going to be a spectacular show. And I was not disappointed.

I interpreted the show as a sort of brief history of tango and how it has evolved over the centuries. After the Indians and the Spanish settlers engaged in the "dance" that was the battle they fought, the settlers emerged victorious, and the scene changed to a guitar player surrounded by his fellow settlers around a campfire. While the guitarist played and sang, the others danced a dance reminiscent of tango in its infancy. This was the birth of the dance that would eventually evolve into what we know as the tango.

After this brief history, there was a series of coupled dancers that came out, one after the other, and each danced about a 5-10 minute set. The guys each wore immaculate tuxedos with their hair greased and slicked back with shiny shoes. The girls wore flashy dresses with many slits and holes that left little to the imagination and somehow managed to dance perfectly in high heels. I knew that tango became what it is today in the brothels of Latin America, but I didn’t realize how much seductiveness and suggestiveness tango dance moves had retained over the years. There was one scene that opened from black with about ten women wearing nothing but lacy lingerie and sexily groping one another. The next scene showed some of these same girls being forced to "dance" with men, as the men beat them into submission. These two images were obviously depicting the history of the dance that whore houses have claimed as their own.

The show wasn’t completely based around lust however. They had an amazing band with a great accordion player. One act also had the owner of the club come on stage, sing a song, and tell a few jokes. He had an amazing voice that filled the entire club. Then, a famous and well-known accordion musician made a guest appearance that caused the portion of the crowd that knew him to rise to their feet. The show began to come to a close with a ballet like dance using cables to allow the man and woman dancing to float and twirl high in the air, as if by magic. Finally, all the dancers, musicians, and singers came back on stage to take a final bow. After an elderly lady was asked to come on stage and was sung happy birthday to by the entire audience, the band began to play "Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina" quietly. Then, the music rising to a crescendo, the owner and two lady singers, burst into song as several long cloths fell from the ceiling with the colors of the Argentine flag on them. As the singers stood in the middle, the dancers paired up, grabbed an end of a strip of cloth with the other end still connected to the ceiling and began walking a circle around the outside of the stage. The audience was finally dismissed as a shower of confetti rained down on them. Argentines sure know how to put on a show! I’m very glad I was able to experience this unique part of Latin American culture. Another piece of the puzzle put in place…