|Argentine culture is a blend of European customs and Latin American and indigenous traditions. (Photo: visitargentina.net)
Bao Tram: I’m always impressed by the ardor of Argentine football fans. Football is definitely the most popular sport in Argentina and an important part of Argentine culture. What can you say about it, Ana?
Ana Schiller: There’s one thing what I would say and the thing that I know everyone will relate more, it's football. But I know everywhere I go or everywhere an Argentinean citizen goes, the first thing that comes to everyone's mind is Messi or Maradona. Yeah it’s a very strong image that the country has outside. You can find entire families devote their free time, their weekends, instead of going to the church, they will go to see a football match. It's an expression, but it's almost like a religion in a way. It's incredible that every time there's a match, everyone goes crazy and there is chanting and going around, sometimes a bit too much but it's still a very strong feeling.
|File photo of Lionel Messi (left) with Diego Maradona. (Photo: GETTY IMAGES)
Bao Tram: From a football field to a food court, both Maradona and Messi opened restaurants abroad, featuring traditional Argentinean food. Well, food says a lot about a national culture. What is Argentina’s signature dish?
Ana Schiller: I would say number one is asado. It's like the national barbecue and we put everything there. We put everything on the barbecue - inner organs and a really good steak and like a piece of meat, always beef. It should go with absolutely nothing. You just put salt on it and that's it. Some people like to add Chimichurri. It's like a sort of sauce with seasoning like onions and stuff like peppers. But usually the meat, we eat meat just with salt and pepper. And number two, probably empanadas. What if there's something very similar here, actually like this little dough kind of a pocket thingy with minced meat inside and olives. Well, you can put different things inside and then you close it. Then you cook it, you can fry it or you can do it in the oven.
|Argentine asado, a tasty journey (Photo: blog.amigofoods.com)
Bao Tram: Well, my mouth is watering! Asado reminds me of wine, the perfect accompaniment to a barbecue feast. Argentina is the fifth largest producer of wine in the world so it’s a huge mistake to ignore this beverage, isn’t it?
Ana Schiller: Well, if we're going to talk about things that we're recognized for, definitely wine. I have to come and step up here and just say that we have great wines but what a pity here you don't find that much Argentinean wine. But we do, we have really good wine. It's very common to have a bottle of red wine on the table for lunch or dinner. It’s very affordable kind of red wine that everyone buys to have a little cup as a part of the meal. It’s very good.
|Argentine wine is increasingly popular around the world. (Photo: turismo.buenosaires.gob.ar)
Bao Tram: How about Argentina’s other popular beverages?
Ana Schiller: Well, the other thing and it's very well-known, is maté, our national drink. It's a kind of tea like tea leaves, a special one that we drink in a special cup which is made out of a type of pumpkin. So it's a shallow hollow. We use it to drink maté. We put all those leaves in there and have to use some sort of straw, bombilla, and you put hot water in your drink and you pass it to the next person and everyone uses the same cup and the same straw. So your maté would be definitely something very important that I think people might think of the gauchos culture.
|Mate, the signature drink of Argentina. (Photo: dreamstime.com)
Bao Tram: We’ve gone through Argentinean football, food, and beverages, and now it’s time for music. But I’ll not ask you about tango at the moment because it may take hours to talk about the signature dance of Argentina and a representative of the Argentinean culture. So what can you say about your country’s music, apart from tango?
Ana Schiller: Well, we have an amazing national rock. It comes from the 70s, late 60s and 70s, or even before we have some bands that everyone knows as well, like Los Gatos and their songs that everyone knows. There is one band that is more poppy, though. It's a bit more modern but for some reasons, it's not for everybody. They have good taste anyway. It's called Soda Stereo formed by Gustavo Cerati. They have a very big crowd of fans all over South America and not only Argentina. I think Argentina is one of the countries that exports more music to the other countries in South America.
|Los Gatos is one of the most popular rock bands in Argentina. (Photo: wikipedia)
Bao Tram: Thank you, Ana Schiller, for sharing with us some interesting facts about Argentina’s culture! There's a lot more to tell about Argentina, especially its music, so let’s meet again in another edition of “Cultural Rendezvous”.
Ana Schiller: Thank you very much! It’s my pleasure.