Let's Talk Turkey (or Lack Thereof)

Gobble gobble!

As it turns out, Argentina is a good place to be on Thanksgiving—if you're a turkey. You see, popular wisdom in this country dictates that one should only eat turkeys in months without the letter "r" (May, June, July, and August). Unfortunately, this rule doesn't exactly jive with the timing of Thanksgiving, which presents a bit of an inconvenience for the holiday table. In fact, it's nigh on impossible to find a fresh turkey at this time of year, and frankly, the frozen ones just aren't very tasty here. So, I did the next best thing—I roasted a chicken. After all, they're relatives, and it is a family holiday.

Despite the fact that some of the most traditional foods aren't available here in Argentina, I still put together a feast worthy of the occasion. Here's what we enjoyed (along with the recipes) on El Día de Acción de Gracias:

Herb-roasted Chicken [About.com] with pan gravy [Me]
Holiday Stuffing [Mom's recipe]
Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Gratin [Smitten Kitchen]
Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan [The New York Times]
Pumpkin Pie with Spiced Whipped Cream [Epicurious]

Everything was delicious (if I do say so myself), but the real stand-outs for me were the gratin and the pie. I particularly impressed myself with the pie. Since the familiar orange pie pumpkin doesn't exist here (and forget about buying canned pumpkin!), I baked and puréed a butternut squash instead, with very tasty results.

Unfortunately, after stuffing myself silly, the reality of my work as an international freelancer hit me like a ton of bricks. Since my clients in Spain, Venezuela and Argentina couldn't care less about Turkey Roasted Chicken Day, I still had to "check in at the office," so to speak. With my inbox filled to the brim and a translation waiting to be finished, I resigned myself to the fact that I'd have to sit in front of the laptop after dinner instead of relaxing on the sofa in a food-induced coma.

While I pined a bit for turkey and cranberries, more than anything, I felt the absence of those of you up north. However, at this time of gratitude and reflection, I find that I'm not truly wanting for anything; I have loving friends and family (on both sides of the equator), my work is going well, and I'm happy and healthy.

The beauty of Thanksgiving is that the spirit of the holiday can be shared with anyone, anywhere, regardless of religion, race, or nationality. Daniel and his family embraced the new tradition with gusto, and so we gave thanks together for the blessings that life has given us. I hope the same can be said for all of you, no matter what you ate or where you spent the holiday. Happy Thanksgiving!

Read More......

Another Funny Argentine Brand Name

prod19aLadies, do you often find yourselves the targets of unwanted attention from sleazy members of the opposite sex? Well, look no further – the solution has arrived (well, at least in Argentina)! I present to you PERVINOX.  Banish obnoxious perverts with just one spritz. ;)

Although the name Pervinox is probably more fitting for a brand of pepper spray, the product is actually an antiseptic spray similar to Bactine. In fact, there's a whole family of "Pervi" products guaranteed to keep you germ-free including hand sanitizer, mouthwash, and liquid soap.

Click here for a previous post on some of the other strange brand names I've come across in Argentina.

[Photo credit: Laboratorios Phoenix]

Read More......

A Girl, Her Bike and a Quest for Candy

Malena and Her Bike by katiemetz, on FlickrMalena arrived at our home on a Thursday afternoon, after a long pedal from the city of Lobería, her cheeks flushed from exertion or the wind (or perhaps both). At just 5 ft. tall, I towered over her by several inches. Her long blond hair was pulled back in a loose pony tail that poked out from beneath her bike helmet, while her skin, bronzed by many hours of cycling under the intense Argentine sun, stood in strong contrast to my milky pallor. I momentarily marveled at the gumption, courage and strength contained within her rather diminutive frame before inviting her into the house. 

*          *          *          *          *

The stories on Malena's blog Candy from Strangers first captured my imagination about six months ago. As she puts it in the "About Me" section of her blog, "Malena loves candy. And travel. And both together. And thus, this site was born." I, too, love candy. And travel. And both together. However, since the mere thought of pedaling from Necochea to the next town over gives me heart palpitations, I figured I would leave the cycling to Malena while I sit back and enjoy the ride from the comfort of my home. 

Malena's sugar-fueled adventures have taken her through Mexico, Central America, Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and now South America. When I found out that Malena's first stop on her South American bike tour would be Argentina, I contacted her and invited her to swing by Necochea. 

She stayed with us for two nights, during which time we gave her a tour of our illustrious city and did our best to feed her need for sweets and ice cream – lots of ice cream. 

Katie and Malena at El Artesano by malena616 on Flickr Ice Cream Cones from Tirol by malena616 on Flickr

Katie and Daniel at El Artesano by malena616

We also introduced her to other Argentine classics such as milanesas, dulce de membrillo and steak. Can you believe she'd made it all the way from Buenos Aires to Necochea without trying some of the famous Argentine beef? Don't worry, we fixed that in a jiffy.

Malena at Ámpola by katiealley on Flickr

Of course, no journey would be complete without sampling some of the local candy. We took our honored guest to Ámpola, an artisanal chocolate shop here in Necochea, where she loaded up on various goodies like chocolate en rama, fruit gels, and chocolate-covered orange peel. We also went to the bakery around the corner from our home for some specialties like pasta frola, conitos and alfajores de maizena. Fortunately for Malena, her adventures pretty much give her carte blanche to eat whatever she pleases since she burns off all those calories on the road. I wish that merely reading her blog had the same effect on me.

During her visit, she regaled us with stories of luscious one-of-a-kind candies in Mexico, her hardships while traveling through India, and the warm welcome she received in countries like Cambodia where she was humbled by the generosity of those who lived with next to nothing but were willing to share all they had with a stranger. Malena says that her travels have reaffirmed her faith in humanity and proven to her that people are essentially good.

Malena Comes to Visit by katiealley on Flickr [Malena on the Escollera Sur in Necochea after visiting the sea lions]

Disenchanted with the backpacker scene and longing for an opportunity to get up-close and personal with the locals, Malena – a native of my home state of Pennsylvania – bought herself a bike in Thailand and set off for parts unknown.  She explored Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia all while in the saddle of her trusty two-wheeled transport. 

In contrast to Asia, Malena noted that biking in Argentina has presented more challenges, most notably the strong winds that she has encountered as well as the significant distance between towns here. Malena travels with a tent, a small stove, and a sleeping bag on the back of her bike for those times when she can't make it to a town by sunset and has to camp on the side of the road. In certain instances she will have to carry two days' worth of water when there are no places to stop along the road in desolate, sparsely populated areas like the Patagonian steppe. Her solo biking journey requires not only a great deal of physical stamina but mental fortitude as well.

Malena's Bike by katiealley on Flickr [Malena's bike plus an impressive amount of gear]

Whether you think Malena's adventurous, brave or just plain crazy, I guarantee that you'll find her stories entertaining. In addition to Candy from Strangers, Malena also chronicles her travels on Crazy Guy on a Bike, a journaling site for cyclists. Add a little sweetness to your day by visiting her blogs and seeing what she's up to. ¡Suerte, Malena!

[Photo credit: malena616]

Read More......

Colonia del Sacramento Revisited

A few months back, I wrote a post about my visit to Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay, a trip that offers a lovely change of pace from the chaos of Buenos Aires.  I had the opportunity to revisit the city a couple of weeks ago with my special out-of-town guests, and of course, another outing presented a new set of photographic opportunities.  Here are some of my favorites from our late October jaunt to Colonia.

Colonia Courtyard | Patio de un Hotel de Colonia by katiealley on Flickr [While walking along one of the side streets of Colonia, I peered through an open door to discover this light-filled, hotel courtyard and its entrance with the black-and-white checkered floor.]

La Braina by katiealley on Flickr [An example of one of the charming, well-maintained buildings in Colonia's historic district]

Mid-Afternoon in Colonia by katiealley on Flickr[A quiet pathway bathed in mid-afternoon sunlight]

View from Atop the Colonia Lighthouse by katiealley on Flickr[Daniel and I climbed to the top of the Colonia Lighthouse, where we were treated to an excellent view of the city and the Río de la Plata.  While we were taking in the scenery, we met a young, friendly Brazilian couple on vacation from Rio de Janeiro.  The mix of English, Spanish and Portuguese that ensued was comical, to say the least.]

Leaving Port by katiealley on Flickr [The ferry back to Buenos Aires set sail in the early evening.  I caught the last bit of light and the clouds over the lighthouse as we all headed back to Argentina.]

Click here to view additional photos from my Colonia del Sacramento set on Flickr.

Read More......

Natural Beauty at Paraje Las Cascadas

Paraje Las Cascadas (also known as Parque "Cura Meucó") is a recreational area set on the banks of the Río Quequén, about 15 km (9 mi) outside of Necochea. The river, one of Necochea and Quequén's most precious natural resources, provides a habitat for many species of birds and fish. It also offers a variety of recreational opportunities such as swimming, fishing, boating, bird watching, canoeing and picnicking for both residents and visitors alike.

Paraje Las Cascadas features a number of small waterfalls and rapids, which are not only picturesque but also present a unique opportunity in the area for those who enjoy kayaking. A small slalom course has been set up for kayakers and is easily viewed from the Quequén side of the river. Cross the two-lane bridge to get a bird's-eye view of the waterfalls and rapids and to access a footpath on the opposite shore. 

The Estación de Piscicultura—an on-site fish hatchery that occasionally opens for tours—plays a vital role in sustaining stocks of rainbow trout and silverside (pejerrey) in the Río Quequén. Fishermen are welcome to try their luck at points up and down the river. 

Down by the River by katiemetz, on Flickr [Looking upriver at Paraje Las Cascadas from a small bridge that spans the Río Quequén]

Paraje Las Cascadas by katiemetz, on Flickr [Rapids at Paraje Las Cascadas from the Quequén side—the fish hatchery is visible in the background]

The Asociación Amigos del Paraje Las Cascadas, a local group of concerned citizens, recently spearheaded a project to improve the facilities available at the recreation area. In addition to the installation of new lighting and a general sprucing up of the place, a small kiosk is now open on weekends, plus there are barbecue pits for those who enjoy an asado with family and friends. The group also dedicated a new prayer sanctuary to San Ceferino Namuncurá.

Scenes along the River by katiemetz, on Flickr[Reflections on the river as the clouds drift past overhead]

While Paraje Las Cascadas is easily accessible from the city of Necochea by a paved highway, a more leisurely and scenic route can be taken along a sinuous back country road that winds along the riverbank past stands of eucalyptus trees and farmland. You'll have numerous opportunities to observe birds, wildflowers (in late spring and summer) and perhaps a nutria as you roll past the Río Quequén with its tiny waterfalls and rock outcroppings. Bring your camera!

The Road to Paraje Las Cascadas by katiemetz, on Flickr[The scenic route hugs the Río Quequén—click to enlarge the photo]

Coming in for a Landing by katiemetz, on Flickr [A honeybee coming in for a landing on a blooming thistle (cardo)]

Click here to view my entire collection of images of the Río Quequén and Paraje Las Cascadas.


How to get there:

For the scenic route, turn right off Ruta 86 where it intersects with Calle 66 and access the unpaved river road through Club del Valle. At the river, turn left on the dirt road to head north toward Paraje Las Cascadas

A faster route is to take Ruta 86 out of Necochea and then turn right at the large sign indicating Paraje Las Cascadas. Follow the dirt road for approximately ten minutes until you reach the bridge and the recreation area.

[View Paraje Las Cascadas in a larger map] Read More......

Visitors from Gringolandia

My dad and his wife Deb made it down here to Necochea for a brief but action-packed visit at the end of October. They had originally planned to travel in July, but the swine flu epidemic and resulting hysteria here in Argentina threw a monkey wrench in their plans, and in the end they decided that springtime might be a more apropos time for a visit. Unfortunately, rescheduling the trip meant they would only have six and a half days with us!

Given the short duration of Dad and Deb's visit, we spent most of our time in Necochea so we could show them around the city and the countryside, as well as enjoy time together with Daniel's family. Our itinerary closely resembled that of last October's visit, when my dad, stepdad and I came down prior to the big move. We took Dad and Deb on the tourist circuit—the river, the port, the beach, the park. One day when the weather wasn't quite conducive to sightseeing, we took them shopping in the city center; let's just say they did their part to contribute to the local economy.

Late Wednesday evening after a filling picada, we said our goodbyes to Daniel's family and boarded the overnight bus to Buenos Aires. We managed to squeeze in a half day in Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay and a walking tour in Buenos Aires before we returned to the airport on Friday evening to see them off. 

Despite the whirlwind nature of the trip that left us all dragging a bit by the end, we still managed to have an unforgettable visit with Dad and Deb. Besides, you know any trip that involved a photo like this one had to be a good time:

Cows in the Desert by katiemetz, on Flickr[We encountered a cattle caravan near the beach as we drove along the coastal road to Punta Negra.]

Click here to view some of the other zany and wonderful snapshots from my dad and Deb's visit.

Read More......

Bizarre Foods – Argentina Style

Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern [photo courtesy of Travel Channel] Calling all foodies! Here's your chance to help get Argentina featured on the Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern. I was contacted by one of the show's researchers for help in compiling a list of some of the strangest, most unique foods that Argentina has to offer. Here are some examples of the people, places and grub that the production team is looking for:

  1. Markets that have unusual foods
  2. Restaurants that serve unusual foods
  3. Chefs that specialize in something bizarre
  4. Interesting street food
  5. Traditional foods that have survived generations
  6. Foods that are common for "family meals" at home
  7. New food trends that are popular
  8. Activities that are popular or representative of the culture that have some sort of food element to them
  9. A food that is made in a very interesting way that we could show the process of
  10. Interesting people who do something with unusual food

Or any other bizarre foods that might not fit any of these categories but are interesting and can fit in the show somehow!

Also, since Argentina is such a large country, the show will need to focus on just one or two areas. Which areas do you think would have the best unusual foods?

If we round up enough funky foods for Andrew to sample, the Travel Channel will send him to Argentina to film an episode! So, let's hear it in the comments: what are some of Argentina's most unusual eats?

[Photo credit: Travel Channel]

Read More......

Province of Buenos Aires Says "Chau" to Plastic Bags

Eco-Friendly Shopping Bag by ThreadBeaur on Flickr [photo used with permission of photographer] In an attempt to cut down on the environmental blight of plastic bags, the provincial legislature of Buenos Aires passed a measure banning the use of environmentally-unfriendly bags in supermarkets. As of October 15, 2009, supermarkets and hypermarkets in the Province of Buenos Aires must use degradable or biodegradable bags. Smaller markets were given an additional year to come into compliance with the law.

A few months back, in preparation for the new law, displays of reusable cloth "Eco-bolsas" sprang up at our local supermarkets with a bit of signage explaining the benefits of using reusable shopping bags. The plastic bag legislation represents an important step forward, and I applaud the modest efforts at raising environmental awareness and promoting green alternatives (even if they are partially [or completely] financially motivated).  

Daniel and I usually bring our reusable cloth shopping bag with us when we run errands around town, and we frequently get funny looks for refusing a plastic bag. It seems that some cashiers have an instinctive reflex to bag even the smallest item, and sometimes they just won't take "no" for answer. At least now when customers are bullied into accepting a grocery bag, they'll receive a more environmentally-sound option at the supermarket checkout thanks to the new law.

Unfortunately, litter and waste management are real problems here in Argentina. While the issue of plastic bags may seem like a drop in the bucket in comparison to the country's larger problem of trash and what to do with it, it's promising to see that the province is taking a step toward a greener Argentina.

[Photo credit: ThreadBeaur]

Read More......
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...