More Argentine Hand Gestures

As I mentioned in a previous post on Argentine hand gestures, the people here are masters of the art of nonverbal communication. Nearly all Argentine speakers punctuate their conversations with animated facial expressions and/or gesticulations, in contrast with other cultures such as the Japanese, who tend to keep bold hand gestures to a minimum.

I thought it would be fun to highlight a few other commonly used gestures, one of which was discussed at length in the comments section of the other post.

Argentine Hand Gesture - Chin Flick by katiemetzI don't know./I have no clue.
[The chin flick: tilt your head back a bit and sweep the back of your fingers forward from under your chin.]

Unlike its meaning in places such as Italy, where the gesture can be considered quite rude, the chin flick – when used in Argentina – simply signals that the speaker doesn't know the answer to your question.

Argentine Hand Gesture - Behave or Else! by katiemetzBehave or else!/Be good or you're gonna get it!
[Place your hand at a 45º angle, and moving your hand from the wrist, make a short, back-and-forth chopping motion in the air.]

A useful gesture to let spouses/children/friends know they're skating on thin ice.

Argentine Hand Gesture - Hand Purse by katiemetzWhat the hell are you talking about?!/Just who do you think you are?
[Bring all of your fingers and your thumb together with your hand pointing upward. Move your hand up and down at the wrist.]

This hand gesture can actually mean a number of things. Here are some of the comments that readers made regarding its most common meaning and usage:

According to Gabriel from Live from Waterloo: "If you…move your hand up and down, then it means 'What do you mean?' or 'What the f*** is wrong with you?'"

According to Chris from In Patagonia: "…for when the hubs [husband] is way out in left field or just being crazy."

Other meanings for this gesture include:

To indicate that a venue was packed with people [Same gesture but shake your hand vigorously]

To show that you're scared [Same gesture but open and close your fingers]


A special thank you to my friend and English student, Laura, for demonstrating these hand gestures. We had a good laugh together during the photo shoot!

For more on this topic, check out my posts "Argentine Hand Gestures" and "Argentine Hand Gestures: World Cup Edition."

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Argentine Recipe Contest

El Libro de Doña Petrona by cocinaconencanto, on Flickr [used under Creative Commons License]

Perhaps they're scribbled on napkins or tucked away in the pages of a yellowed, dog-eared cookbook. Or maybe the only place they're noted is in the recesses of your mind. No matter where your time-tested Argentine recipes are found, I'd like to see them!

The Seashells and Sunflowers Argentine Recipe Contest

Send me your best Argentine recipe, whether it's an old family favorite or a more recent culinary triumph. I'll announce my top three picks, and then I'll prepare all three recipes, along with a brief description and photos. At that point it's up to you, the readers, to vote for your favorite! The winner will earn bragging rights and a delicious food prize from Argentina.

Please include the following information in your entry:

  • Your full name
  • Your place of residence [optional]
  • The recipe
  • The source of your recipe and any interesting background information about the dish
  • The URL of your blog or website [optional]

Submit your Argentine recipe via email to katiemetz [at] hotmail [dot] com with "Argentine Recipe Contest" in the subject line. Contest entries will be accepted in both English and Spanish. The contest is open to participants around the world.

The deadline for contest submissions is Monday, April 11th at 12pm (Argentina time).

Please note that by submitting an entry, you consent to the recipe's full reproduction, with attribution, on Seashells and Sunflowers.

[Photo credit: cocinaconencanto]

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Getting Married in Argentina

Getting Married in Argentina - Civil Ceremony by blmurch [used under Creative Commons license]If you're planning on getting married in Argentina, read on for information and resources regarding the necessary steps to arrange a civil ceremony.

The Argentine government recognizes the civil wedding as the only legally binding marriage ceremony performed in Argentina. You may opt to be married in a religious ceremony as well, but all couples must have a separate civil ceremony to legalize their union.

Note: Either you or your fiancé(e) must be Argentine or a permanent resident of Argentina; two tourists cannot legally marry each other in Argentina. [Update: As of May 2012, foreign tourists are allowed to marry in the City of Buenos Aires and the provinces of Santa Fe, Tierra del Fuego and Buenos Aires. If both you and your fiancé(e) are tourists, please see my post "Foreign Tourists Permitted to Marry in Buenos Aires" for more information and requirements.]

Marriage in Argentina Between a Foreigner and an Argentine Citizen

To begin the process, you and your fiancé(e) should head to the Registro Civil (Civil Registry) closest to your legal place of residence, as recorded in your fiancé(e)'s DNI. You may select a date for your civil ceremony no more than 30 to 45 days out from the date you plan to get married. We were able to pick both the date and time of our ceremony; however, we were limited to Monday through Friday between 8am and 1pm, as those are the hours that our Registro Civil is open to the public.

Requirements for Marriage in Argentina (Foreigner Marrying an Argentine)

  • Foreigner: passport with valid visa stamp or prórroga de permanencia (visa extension) plus a photocopy of the entire document
  • Argentine: DNI plus a photocopy of the entire document
  • Blood test results [get blood drawn at local hospital no more than one week prior to date of wedding (no cost); return certified results to the Registro Civil before your wedding day]
  • Complete and return paperwork, including the names and personal information of two people who will serve as witnesses [cannot be family members; must be Argentines with DNI]
  • You may be required to provide additional documentation proving that any previous marriages were legally terminated, either by death or divorce.
  • Fees [$40 pesos payable at Banco de la Provincia—you cannot pay at the Civil Registry]

The civil ceremony lasts only twenty minutes or so and is conducted by an employee of the Registro Civil. Most people invite friends and family to attend the civil wedding even if there will be a church ceremony later on, but at the very least, you must bring your two witnesses, and of course, your partner!

You will be given a libreta de familia and certificado de matrimonio [photo] immediately following the ceremony. If you or your spouse plan to obtain residency following your marriage, you must also pay a separate fee for the acta de matrimonio, a certified copy of the page you, your spouse and your witnesses signed in the marriage record.

Disclaimer: Different provinces and civil registries often have varying requirements for marriage. What I've detailed here represents my personal experiences in the City of Necochea, Province of Buenos Aires. Given the capricious nature of Argentine bureaucracy, your experience may be different.

Additional Resources:

General list of requirements for marriage in Argentina, as outlined by the United States Embassy in Buenos Aires [in English]

Specific requirements for marriage in the City of Buenos Aires and for the Province of Buenos Aires [in Spanish]

Experiences with getting married in Argentina from Meag at A Domestic Disturbance

Legal implications of international marriage, with information specific to Argentina from Expat Argentina [older post but the information is still useful]

[Photo credit: blmurch]

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We Tied the Knot!

I'm pleased to announce that on Friday, March 11th, Daniel and I were married in a civil ceremony in Necochea, Argentina.

Wedding Bouquet by Elizabeth Lovelace [FotosEli]

Argentine civil ceremonies don't involve much pomp and circumstance. Short and sweet, the ceremony lasted just a few minutes, resembling – more or less – the wedding scene from the Mel Brooks' comedy Spaceballs:

Minister: Do you?
Lone Starr: Yes
Minister: Do you?
Princess Vespa: Yes
Minister: GOOD, you're married. KISS HER!

Afterwards, Daniel and I signed our lives away in the presence of our loved ones and General San Martín (that's him on the wall behind Daniel). I must say that we look pretty happy about it though.

Smiles by blmurch, on Flickr

In spite of a forecast that called for the possibility of rain, we were blessed with blue skies and sunshine during our ceremony and reception (although Mother Nature really let loose throughout the rest of the weekend, with heavy rains and high winds). The only showers we experienced that morning resulted from the pounds of rice tossed at us by well-wishers.

Tossing Rice by Elizabeth Lovelace [FotosEli]

We celebrated the big day with our closest friends and family from/in Argentina at an intimate reception following the ceremony. We plan to party with my North American relatives and friends later this year when Daniel and I head to the States for our honeymoon.

Buffet Ready and Guests Waiting by blmurch, on Flickr

My friend and photographer Elizabeth Lovelace documented our wedding and reception along with a bit of help from my other friend and photographer Beatrice Murch. I say you can't have too many photographers at your wedding (though perhaps Daniel would disagree!). In addition to her photographic duties, Liz [right] also served as a witness at the ceremony together with Daniel's cousin Mery [left].

Witnesses and Bride and Groom by blmurch, on Flickr

I'll post more details and photos from the wedding later on, but for now I leave you with some more shots from our special day.

Kiss on the Cheek by Elizabeth Lovelace [FotosEli]

Overlooking the River by Elizabeth Lovelace [FotosEli]

The Bride and Groom by Elizabeth Lovelace [FotosEli]

You can view more candid photos by Beatrice in her Weekend at Necochea set.

[Photo credits: Elizabeth Lovelace (FotosEli), all rights reserved // Beatrice Murch, photos licensed under Creative Commons]

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Foods of Argentina: Cardo (Cardoons)

Cardoons [Cardo] Near the Río Quequén in Necochea, Argentina by katiemetz on Flickr[Cardoons (Cardos) growing near the Río Quequén in Necochea, Argentina]

Late spring and early summer drives along the dusty country roads that wind through Argentine farmland invariably include sightings of an odd, spiky plant crowned with a vibrant purple flower. Generally considered an agricultural pest here, the cardoon or artichoke thistle (Spanish: cardo) competes for valuable resources and land with cash crops such as sunflowers, wheat, corn and soybeans and presents issues for livestock.

It's believed that Spanish settlers accidentally introduced cardoons to Argentina through contaminated wheat seed sometime during the early or mid-1700s. The plant flourished in the rich soil of the Argentine pampa, much to the dismay of farmers. I, myself, was reminded of the stubborn nature of the cardo just a couple months ago when I began to notice the plant's characteristic leaves popping up on our lawn. If you think dandelions pose a challenge to your green thumb, you've never gone mano a mano with a cardo.

Now that I've painted a sufficiently grim portrait of the cardo situation, you'll imagine my surprise when I ran across this post about cardoons on the food blog Serious Eats. I came to find out that the young, tender stalks of the cardo are edible…and command a tidy sum, at that! Chef Mario Batali apparently considers cardoons one of his favorite vegetables, praising their "very sexy flavor."

Cardoon [Cardo] by tvol, on Flickr [used under Creative Commons license]

As it turns out, cardoons can be difficult to source in the United States and are primarily found in farmer's markets. I'm seriously thinking I need to start a cardo exportation business. Who's in?

In terms of taste, the cardoon features "a delicate flavor reminiscent of an artichoke." Celebrated in Mediterranean cuisine, the cardoon enjoys considerable popularity in both Italy and Spain. For better or worse, said popularity didn't follow the cardo to its New World home in Argentina.

In a way, it's rather misleading to include the words "Foods of Argentina" in the title of this post, since cardoons aren't widely appreciated as a food source in most parts of the country. However, in the provinces of Córdoba and Santa Fe, cardo is sometimes eaten as part of bagna cauda, a warm dip served with vegetables, brought by Italian immigrants from the Piedmont region.

Have you ever tried cardoons?

[Photo credit: tvol]

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