Argentina is the second largest country in South America, and one of the most populous. Long a center for immigration, this mixture of different peoples and cultures has created a rich and unique Argentinean culture separate from the rest of Latin America. Although often overlooked in the media, Argentina is actually the birthplace of many world-famous cultural icons that many people will recognize. This article will list five unique thing about Argentina that you may not have been previously aware of.
Argentina has tradition of cattle ranches and cowboys (gauchos) much older than the United States. Raising about 55 million head of cattle, Argentina is the third largest exporter of beef in the world. Argentine beef is world-famous for its quality and flavor. Argentines have the largest consumption of red meat in the world.
Whereas many US ranches contain grain-fed cattle raised in feedlots, Argentine ranches are still largely grass-fed, free-range cattle roaming over the vast rolling pastures of the central Pampas and southern Patagonian plains. Many consider grass-fed, free-range cattle to be tastier and healthier, as free-range cattle are less likely to have hormone injections, get more exercise, contain less saturated fast, and more healthy omega 3 fatty acids which reduce cholesterol.
Argentina has its own, world-famous type of barbeque, known as asado. Asado combines the dry heat of grilling with the humid, slow-cooking method of smoking. The result is grilled, barbequed meat that is very tender and juicy. Many foods Americans consider to be Mexican actually originated in Argentina, including chorizo, empanadas, and Dulce de Leche. Finnally, chimichurri sauce (made of olive oil mixed with parsley, oregano, paprika, garlic, onion, pepper, and salt) is actually an Argentine creation, and is traditionally served with an asado barbeque.
Argentinean wine has become increasingly popular worldwide over the last twenty years. Argentina is the fifth largest producer of wine in the world, and has long been the single biggest producer outside of Europe. The province of Mendoza, Argentina’s primary wine producing region, is considered one of the eight wine capitals in the world. Argentinean wine also reflects Argentina’s diverse ethnic background. The grapes cultivated for wine in Argentina come from Spain, France, and Italy, among others places.
Due to the high altitude and low humidity of the prime Argentinean vineyards in the foothills of the Andes mountains, Argentinean grapevines rarely suffer the problems of insects, molds, fungi, and other grape vine diseases. Consequently, Argentinean vintners rarely use pesticides or herbicides, making Argentinean wine naturally organic and flavorful. Argentina is credited with the finest Malbec wine in the world.
4. The Tango
Almost everyone has heard of this slow, sensual ballroom dance, but many don’t realize it originated in Argentina. Specifically, it evolved in the ports, bars and brothels of Buenos Aires (the capital of Argentina) in the late 19th century. Buenos Aires was a city of immigrants at the time, and the Tango, both the dance and the music, was a fusion of musical styles from Spain, Cube, Africa, Italy, Eastern Europe, and indigenous Argentinean folk music.
This slow, sorrowful, and sexual music and dance spread from the working class slums to the rest of Argentinean society by the turn of the 20th century. In the 1920s, it exploded on the international scene and became wildly popular in Europe and the United States. Like Jazz, the Tango craze flourished until displaced by Rock & Roll in the 1950. In 2009, UNESCO declared the Tango to be part of the world’s “intangible cultural heritage.”
Violin, piano, guitar, flute and bandoneon, sometimes guitar and clarinet
For the average person, the first thing they associate with Argentia is the stage and movie musical “Evita,” a rags-to-riches story about Eva Perón. Eva, nicknamed “Evita” by an adoring public, was the wife of the popular Argentinean President Juan Perón, who ruled Argentina in the 1940s and 50s. Evita’s massive popularity among Argentineans came from the charity foundation she set up to assist the poor and working classes. She also advocated women’s right. The story of Evita hit new levels of popularity in the 1990s, when a movie version of the musical was released starring Madonna in the lead role of Eva Perón,