Gaucho Garb Drives the Chinas Wild

Just as the image of the ruggedly-handsome cowboy of the American West has inspired many a fantasy among women, Argentina's gauchos have been known to make more than one china (lady gaucho) swoon. Apart from dashing good looks and a fine steed, the gaucho's appeal lies in the details of the typical dress associated with these men of the pampa. Get the low-down on the essential elements of gaucho garb with this tongue-in-cheek guide to gaucho chic. Personally, I'm a sucker for a jaunty gaucho beret.

A Guide to Gaucho Chic, written by Amanda Barnes, Wine Republic [used with author's permission][Credit: Image text written by Amanda Barnes, Wine Republic, used with author's permission]

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Feria de las Colectividades: Food, Frivolity and Funny Hats

The Feria de las Colectividades, Necochea's annual multicultural festival, celebrates the various immigrant groups that have helped shape our city. The three-day festival takes place at the end of January in Parque Miguel Lillo and features stands serving up the gastronomic specialties of each ethnic group, as well as music and dance troupes wearing traditional costumes. The event culminates with a pageant and the crowning of the festival queen.

The following ethnic groups participated in this year's festival: Italians [plus the regions of Basilicata, Calabria and Le Marche], French, Danes, Germans, Spaniards [plus the regions of Andalusia and the Basque Country], Arabs and Greeks. For some reason, the Chileans decided to stay home this year, but they usually set up (a rather popular) stand at the festival too.

This year marks the fourth time I have attended the Feria de las Colectividades. I enjoy the lively music and colorful dress, although what I particularly relish is the opportunity to sample dishes from the various stands. Honestly, it's one of the only times out of the whole year that I have the chance to eat ethnic food (that is, unless I prepare it myself at home). Necochea could really use some dining options beyond typical Argentine fare…

Feria de las Colectividades, Necochea, Argentina by Katie Metz

Festivalgoers can purchase these delicacies and more from the food stands:
Italy: zeppoli, tiramisu, pizza, piadina, ricotta pie, ciambelline, sfrappe, pizzelle
France: blanquette, ratatouille, baguettes, sweet and savory crepes
Denmark: assorted cakes, open-faced sandwiches with various fillings, and aquavit
Germany: sausages, sauerkraut and beer
Spain: tortilla, paella, ham sandwiches, chistorra, pinchos, seafood stew, fried calamari and pork loin
Middle East: kibbe, fatay, shawarma and hummus
Greece: souvlaki, tiropita, baklava, galaktoboureko
Chile: empanadas de pino

Folk Dancing at the Feria de las Colectividades, Necochea, Argentina by Katie Metz

Traditional music and dance fill the stage at the Feria de las Colectividades. In addition to local performers, German, Paraguayan, Bolivian, Greek, Russian and Ukrainian folk dance troupes from Olavarría and Buenos Aires entertain the crowd at the festival.

Fiesta de las Colectividades, Necochea, Argentina by Katie Metz

And as the title of the post indicates, you're guaranteed to see a funny hat throughout the course of the night. Tell me, who doesn't enjoy a funny hat or two?

[Last but not least, take a look at this video montage from this year's festival. You can skip to the good stuff by starting at the 0:35-second mark. Please click here if you can't view the embedded video.] Read More......

Red Wine and Watermelon: A Deadly Mix?

Did you know you will die if you drink red wine and eat watermelon together? According to an old wives' tale widely circulated in Argentina, the mix of red wine and watermelon produces a lethal cocktail in your stomach.

I like to live dangerously. Watermelon + Red Wine = DeathWhile most Argentines who subscribe to this myth are firmly convinced that consuming a bottle of red and a slice of watermelon spells certain death, some believe the combination merely leads to digestive upset. Still others would have you abstain from any type of alcohol if you're in the mood for a refreshing piece of watermelon, lest you be found lifeless the following day. How sad to think that few Argentines have sampled the joys of a drunken watermelon (or perhaps they have but didn't live to tell the tale).

Next, I present the following compelling scientific arguments, gleaned from various trustworthy, academic Spanish-language sources such as Yahoo! Answers Argentina, as to how the combination of red wine and watermelon kills you:

» The combination of the two causes intestinal paralysis.
» Wine chemically boosts the level of the naturally-occurring toxin arsenic in watermelon.
» The wine makes the watermelon harden in the gut, creating a "cork" that blocks digestion.
» The mixture of the two produces some sort of fatal metabolic reaction within the body.

Apparently, no one told Martha Stewart or The New York Times about the deadly mix that occurs when these two substances unite. If you like to live on the edge, sample these recipes featuring the killer combo: Sangria Soup and Watermelon and Red Wine Drink.

If I don't post next week, you'll know why.

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Top Baby Names in Buenos Aires for 2011

The results are in! According to the civil registries in both the city and province of Buenos Aires, Argentina, the following baby names were selected by parents more than any others in the year 2011.

Girls Boys
1.   Isabella 1.   Benicio
2.   Valentina 2.   Benjamín
3.   Sofía 3.   Bautista
4.   Juana 4.   Thiago
5.   Martina 5.   Santino
6.   Morena 6.   Joaquín
7.   Mía 7.   Santiago
8.   Lola 8.   Valentín
9.   Alma 9.   Nicolás
10. Jazmín 10. Ignacio

Isabella came out of nowhere to oust Sofía, the leading name for girls since 2005, while Benicio took the top spot for boy names, knocking former frontrunner Thiago down to the fourth spot. In terms of overall trends, more parents are opting to tiny foot by limaoscarjuliet, on Flickr [used under Creative Commons license]give their children just a first name—no middle name—and a preference for short names such as Mía, Lola, and Alma has emerged.

In Necochea, the most popular names for girls were Isabella, Emma, Mía, Renata, Catalina and Lola, while Valentino, Bautista and Benicio were tops for boys. Daniel's cousin helped contribute to the popularity of the name Catalina here in Necochea, as she and her husband chose that name for their baby girl, the newest member of the family born back in September.

The civil registry of each province maintains an official list of approved names, and each year, a few new monikers are tacked on the list. In 2011, the following names were added to the list for the City of Buenos Aires: Zafira, Kaila, Gaetana, Mina, and Narine, for girls, and Akari, Tomassso, Hyun, Diago and Ringo, for boys.

I'm really drawn to the names Benicio (#1) and Joaquín (#6) for a boy, and the names Emma and Renata (#2 and #4, respectively, in Necochea) for a girl sound lovely to my ears.

Which names from the list do you like most?

[Photo credit: limaoscarjuliet]

Did you enjoy this post? If so, then check out the most popular baby names in Buenos Aires for 2010.

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