La Cultura de Argentina (Argentine Culture)

I am over half way though my abroad program. In many ways, I feel like I belong, yet in other ways, I am still learning the quirks of Mendocino society. The period of initial culture shock has long past; however, every now and then I need to remind myself to take a breath and remember that I’m not from Mendoza and any frustration that I still have is normal. Nevertheless, there are three Argentine customs worthy of sharing.

It is common practice to kiss everyone (to an extent) hello and goodbye. I’m referring to a cheek kiss, which can seem odd, especially if you don’t know the person. When I am in the United States, I will greet my family and friends with a hug if I haven’t seen them in a while. If I am walking to class, or frequently interact with them, I usually smile, say hello, and exchange a few words. When I meet a new person, the extent of physical contact is a hand shake. That is not the case in Argentina. My host sister threw a party for her boyfriend’s birthday a couple months ago. Every single person I met went in for the kiss. This happened only three weeks after I arrived, so predictably, I was a little taken aback. When I decided to go to bed, I kissed every person goodbye.

Argentines love their meat, so unsurprisingly, the Asado (barbeque) is a very popular tradition. My host family has a large, outdoor, stone stove, which I was informed immediately upon arriving was for Asados. The meat options usually consist of steak, pork, and sausage and are meant to serve 10 or more people. I am not a frequent meat eater, but Argentina does have good meat.

Drinking mate is a cultural phenomenon. It is impossible to not see someone in possession of this popular tea. It has a similar flavor to green tea and is consumed with or without sugar. I like it both ways. What I find most interesting is how people drink mate. One person brings the hot water, tea leaves, and mug (with a metal straw). He/she then fills the mug with the tea leaves and pours in the water. That person will then drink the mate until there is no more water. Once it is finished, he/she will fill the mug with more water and pass the mug to the next person (the same mug and straw). This continues until every person present has drank the mate and there is no more water. My first thought after witnessing this was “that’s unhygienic.” I was even more taken aback when this cultural norm occurred during class, and the professor was included. After my initial misgivings, I now engage in the same activity.

After two and a half months, culture shock is appropriately named, but as I have discovered, every culture is wonderfully unique.


Zoe Kaldor

 ARGENTINA – IFSA: MENDOZA UNIVERSITIES PROGRAM, 2018 FALL

Zoe Kaldor is an International Studies and Strategic Communication double major. She is studying abroad with IFSA-Butler in Mendoza, Argentina. Originally from New York, DU’s study abroad program was one of the reasons Zoe chose to attend DU. She specifically chose to study abroad in Argentina because she wants to improve her Spanish skills and experience a new culture, for she believes it is so important in an increasingly global society to be able to communicate in languages besides English as well as experience different ways of life. Zoe is an avid traveler and loves to explore new places; she is excited she gets to do both.

iconmonstr-instagram-3-32


 

Advertisements

All About Czech FOOD

In America, we have a little bit of every type of food. Italian, Japanese, Thai, Greek, the list goes on. Let me ask you this: have you ever seen a Czech restaurant? Because I never have. So, I wasn’t sure what to expect in the Czech Republic. Czechia is not a place globally known for their food, therefore the food isn’t really a common presence in other countries. So, I’m dedicating this blog to give a very basic breakdown of the food you can find in the Czech Republic.

Overall, there’s a pretty nice variety, but traditional Czech foods are pretty common anywhere you go.

The traditional dishes are all very heavy, and are typically made from lots of hearty plants because of the cold climate here. The most traditional meal is Svíčková, which

Svickova
Svíčková

is braised beef or pork with dumplings and a sauce. Oh, and cabbage. You can’t forget the cabbage. There are many other meals that are different variations of this- different sauces, either bread or potato dumplings, filled or unfilled dumplings (typically unfilled), different meats, different cabbage, etc. This is typically served as a lunch food because lunch is the biggest meal and it WILL keep you full for the rest of the day.

I’m no food reviewer, but I’ll add that I find this meal delicious. The meat is always cooked so delicately that it pairs well with the dumplings, and then the acidity of the sauce and cabbage cuts the savoriness and helps bring out the flavors of the meat. A very good balance, I highly recommend trying to track some down.

Now, in general, the heartier the plant is, the more common it is. Czechia is a very “meat and potatoes” kind of place for just that reason. Pickled things (especially cabbage) are also common.

To sum it up:

  • Red meats are more common than white, like sausages, braised beef, roasted pork
  • The most common vegetables are root vegetables like cabbage, carrots, onions, potatoes, cabbage, celery, and cabbage. Oh, and did I mention cabbage? I never knew there were so many types of cabbage before coming here!
  • Fruit, as far as I can tell, isn’t very prominent here. Fruit gelato and marmalade, however, is very common. It could be because fruit season has already peaked, but besides cranberries and the occasional banana, I haven’t seen a whole lot of fruit offered in restaurants.
  • Another interesting thing is that all the bread here is rye bread. Rye has been a traditional crop in Central Europe since the middle ages, so everything made in the stores will have at least 30% rye in it, and caraway seeds are a common addition as well.
  • Finally, let’s have a chat about cheese. Cheese might as well be its own food group
    Fried Cheese
    Artery-Clogging Fried Cheese

    here because it is very common and very popular. By a landslide, the most common type of cheese is eidam, which is originally from the Netherlands but was modified (by reducing the fat content and using the German name) and is now a proud Czech specialty. I’ll also add that cheese isn’t so much used as a topping as it is the main dish. We’re talking about fried cheese, people! My goodness is it amazing. I can affirm that you will likely feel your arteries begin to clog as you take each bite, but it is 100% worth it.

 

Now for my favorite part of any meal: DESSERT!

I absolutely love dessert. Favorite meal of the day, no competition. When I got here, to make the adjustment process easier, I told myself that whenever anything bad or inconvenient happened that I would make it better by getting dessert. So, I’ve had a lot of desserts.

By far the most common dessert products you’ll see will have wafers of some sort.

Colache
Poppy seed Kolache

Wafers have been a Czech specialty since the 1800’s, where the thin, crispy, and slightly sweet wafers were handed out to spa guests. Now they’re in around 75% of the treats here.

If you’re looking for hand-crafted desserts, you find a lot of flour-based creations. So, you see a lot of cakes, pastries, cream-puff looking things, etc. There are so many desserts that I could ramble on about, but I’ll stick with my current favorite: kolache. It’s similar to a Danish in that it’s dough with cream cheese, but it’s the filling that makes the difference. Poppy seed is a very common dessert filling here, and the traditional kolaches will have poppy seeds or jam in the middle.

I can go on and on about all the amazing and unique foods I’ve tried here, but I think the best option is to just come and taste for yourself. I’ll be happy to share!


Hannah Langford

CZECH REPUBLIC – MASARYK UNIVERSITY, 2018 FALL

Hannah Langford is taking a break from studying Integrated Sciences at DU to study history and culture at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. She’s looking forward to exploring the unique geography and outdoor opportunities in the area and the surrounding countries. She’s also looking  forward to eating a lot of chocolate.

iconmonstr-instagram-3-32