Posts

Puente de la Mujer (Woman’s Bridge)

The origins of the Puente de la Mujer (Woman’s Bridge) in Puerto Madero and its meaning.

Puente de la Mujer, Its Meaning

The Puente de la Mujer is a unique pedestrian bridge located in the Puerto Madero district of Buenos Aires, Argentina.  The name Puente de la Mujer is Spanish for “Bridge of the Woman.”

Designed by Santiago Calatrava in 2001, the bridge is meant to represent a couple dancing Tango, mimicking the movement  of a man leaning over a woman.  This, coupled with the fact that the surrounding streets have primarily female names, gives the bridge its name.

Puente de la Mujer

The Puente de la Mujer bridge

Puente de la Mujer (Woman's Bridge)

Man leaning over a woman in tango

The History of the Puente de la Mujer

The Puente de la Mujer took three years to build! The bridge was originally built in Victoria, Spain, and taken over in parts to Buenos Aires over the course of five months.

Donated by Don Alberto L. Gonzalez to the city of Buenos Aires, the bridge was a thank you gift to the city for 60 years of work.  It is estimated to be valued at $6 million.

,

Eating Meat in Argentina

Argentina is known to produce some of the worlds best quality meats. At any given time there are around 50 to 55 million cattle heads in Argentina, meaning that the country has more cows than people. About 70% of all of Argentina cattle is bovine: Shorthorn, Heresford, Aberdeen Angus and Holando Argentina. Bovine meat production is an activity with a long history in Argentina, and one that is filled with tradition.

Argentina - Asado - Parrilla - Barbeque

Argentina – Asado – Parrilla – Barbeque

Argentina’s red meat is well known all around the world for its high quality. It has a color and taste distinctive from all others, a result from the treatment that the cattle receives. The cattle lives on wide and fertile fields, mostly in the Pampas region of the country, eating only the green pastures without additional hormones stimulation their growth. Walking across the open landscape, the cattle receives constant exercise giving the meats a low fat content. It also has a very tender texture because it is not allowed to reach full adulthood.

The Argentinean meats is high on Omega 3, a fatty acid that protects the heart; and another fatty acid called conjugated linoleic acid or CLA, that has been studied as a cancer preventing substance and it is related to the reduction of body fats.

For these reasons, Argentina’s red meat is very sought after. It is less fat, has less cholesterol, and is also a good source of proteins and minerals essential for a good development.

If you happen to visit Argentina, one of the must-do’s is eating in one of Argentina´s restaurants or the typical “parrillas” (BBQ) to taste the now so classic “bife” or the more traditional “asado,” a favorite of any Argentinean wishing to eat good red meat, and a “plato tipico” (typical dish) for any reunion.

Cattle - Pampas Argentina

Cattle – Pampas Argentina

A Census Taker for Penguins in Argentina

P. Dee Boersma, a University of Washington conservation biologist, is the Jane Goodall of penguins. As director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Penguin Project, Dr. Boersma, 62, has spent the last quarter of a century studying the behaviors of some 40,000 Magellanic penguins, inhabitants of one stretch of beach in southern Argentina. We spoke at last month’s American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago and again later by telephone. An edited version of the interview follows.

A CONVERSATION WITH DEE BOERSMA

Socializing penguins

Socializing penguins

Q. HOW DID THE PENGUIN PROJECT BEGIN?

A. In the early 1980s, a Japanese company went to the Argentine government and said, “We’d like a concession to harvest your penguins and turn them into oil, protein and gloves.” There was a public outcry. This was during a military dictatorship when dissidents were being thrown into the ocean from airplanes. And yet people said, “We object to having our penguins harvested.”

So the military regime did what any government facing a controversy might do — they said, “Let’s have a study.” Not long after that, the Wildlife Conservation Society entered into an agreement with the Argentine Office of Tourism and the Province of Chubut to set up a research project at Punta Tombo where there was the world’s largest colony of Magellanic penguins. Once that agreement was in place, it was the end of the concession idea.

I came to Punta Tombo in 1982 to determine how many penguins were actually there. I didn’t think I’d be doing a long-term study of them. But we didn’t know how long wild penguins lived. With time, we discovered that penguins are quite long-lived, 30 years, more. So I’ve ended up going to Argentina every year since 1982.

Q. WHAT DOES YOUR RESEARCH INVOLVE?

A. I’m a kind of census taker of the 200,000 breeding pairs of penguins at Punta Tombo. I track who is at home, who gets to mate, where the penguins go for the meals, their health, their behaviors.

On a typical day, I’ll get up before dawn. The penguins rise early, but they spend the morning calling to each other from their nests and socializing. Around 8 or 9, they head down to the beach. Once they’re out, we check the nests, see who’s stayed behind, weigh the babies, band them, and we put satellite tags on some birds so we can track them while they’re swimming.

I’m interested in where they go. Through the tagging we’ve been able to show that in the last decade, the birds are swimming about 25 miles further in search of food. They’re having trouble finding enough fish to eat. That costs a penguin energy and time while their mate is sitting on the egg, starving. So when they return to the nest to relieve their mate, they arrive in poorer body condition. And then, the mates also have to go farther to find food.

These penguins are now laying eggs on the average three days later in the season then they did a decade ago. That means that the chicks may leave for sea at more inopportune times, when fish may not be close to the colony. Many will not survive to come back and breed. The Punta Tombo colony has declined 22 percent since 1987. That’s a lot. This type of penguin is considered near-threatened. Of the 17 different penguin species, 12 are suffering rapid decreases in numbers.

Q. Why is this decline occurring among the Magellanic penguins?

A. Changes in the availability and abundance of prey. And we think that’s due to both climate change and exploitation of the penguins’ food sources by commercial fisheries.

There’s also oil pollution in the South Atlantic. There’s dumping from ships. For a while in the 1980s, 80 percent of the dead penguins found along the coast were covered in oil. In 1994, we were able to get the Chubut authorities to move the oil tanker lanes further from the coast. That’s helped.

But as the birds take these longer migrations in search of food, they sometimes find themselves outside of Chubut’s protected areas. Some of our tagged penguins have been located as far north as Brazil. When they’re in the waters of northern Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil, where the laws against oil dumping are less enforced, they’re encountering problems.

Q. WHAT ARE THE POLICY IMPLICATIONS OF YOUR RESEARCH?

A. We’re seeing that conservation areas that we’ve set up to protect penguins are not going to work. If we’re going have penguins, I think we are going to have to do ocean zoning and try to manage people.

I also think that our information about the penguins’ migratory patterns means we must try to anticipate the next place they might move to. Right now they are on public land in Punta Tombo, but as the birds look for new food sources, they might end up colonizing beaches that are privately owned. What then?

The big thing is that penguins are showing us that climate change has already happened. The birds are trying to adapt. But evolution is not fast enough to allow them to do that, over the long term.

Q. THE 2005 DOCUMENTARY FILM “THE MARCH OF THE PENGUINS” WAS A REMARKABLE INTERNATIONAL SUCCESS. DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHY?

A. Because people can identify with penguins. These birds are curious. They walk upright. They dress well. They’re highly social. They know their neighbors. They mate. And some of them even get divorced.

Q. HOW CAN YOU KNOW THAT?

A. When we do our census, we find individuals with mates other than those they had the year before — and they are living within meters of the old mates. That’s more likely to happen, by the way, if the couple has failed at raising a chick; they’ll move to another mate.

And yet, we find other pairs with great fidelity. We have one pair that stayed together for 16 years. What’s really interesting is that if the penguins keep the same mate, they raise more chicks. Fidelity gives them greater evolutionary success.

By CLAUDIA DREIFUS
Source: New York Times

Dining Finds in Buenos Aires

Palermo Viejo, the city’s hippest ‘hood, is also the best place to chow down. Check out these dining finds in Buenos Aires.

Until a few years ago, Palermo Viejo was mostly unknown outside Buenos Aires. The only reason anyone ventured into this leafy neighborhood, with its stately, century-old houses and makeshift auto shops, was if it was time to pay the family a visit or if the Peugeot was sick.

These days Palermo Viejo has the same thrumming energy as Silver Lake in Los Angeles or the Mitte in Berlin, and it’s the place where in-the-know travelers and hip locals alike go for their shopping (one section is known as Palermo SoHo) and night-life fix. It’s also home to the city’s liveliest dining scene, but here things get trickier to navigate. The area’s trendy status has brought many restaurants that, perhaps not surprisingly, are more about the soaring interiors and designer cocktails than the food. It’s not that a meal at this type of restaurant is bad, just generic: croquettes with clever fillings, crusted salmon served with a side of puréed something. Sit down for a dinner at Olsen, a fashionable and much-lauded favorite that looks to northern Europe for its menu (and midcentury Scandinavia for its décor), and you could be eating the same food, in the same setting, in London or in Manhattan.

Still, there are great finds in Palermo Viejo, as there are throughout the city, which showcase Argentina’s rich culinary history and its bounty, which stretches from the ocean to the Andes. A handful of these are new restaurants that pay homage to this tradition and draw a crowd less interested in who designed the room than in what’s coming out of the kitchen.

Dining Finds in Buenos Aires

One is Jangada, where locals go for the pacú, a lumbering cousin of the piranha that can grow as large as 60 pounds. Jangada’s serving is the size of a porterhouse. Grilled until crispy, the flesh is firm but flaky, and so succulent that from the first bite you’ll understand how it earned its nickname, el lechón del rió, or suckling pig of the river. Pacú is worshiped in Argentina but a rare sight in Buenos Aires. And it’s certainly not anything you’ll find on a menu in the East Village.

For those with more carnivorous appetites, the most obvious place to find authentic local cooking is at a parrilla, the classic Argentine restaurant that offers 20 or more kinds of grilled meats, mostly cuts of steak. It’s like a brasserie, genial and familiar, and the menus at each read mostly the same. Of the dozens of parrillas in Palermo Viejo, La Dorita may be the most famous, but La Cabrera, which opened just a few years ago, is the tastiest.

You could make a meal strictly of starters, like the provoleta, a thick, round slice of cow’s-milk cheese charred on the grill and served sizzling hot with a topping of olive oil and dried herbs. It’s the ultimate mac-and-cheese, only all cheesy crust, no mac. Or go for the morcilla Vasca, Basque-style blood sausage that tastes of mulled spices. The menu offers plenty of beef, but the chef Gastón Rivera experiments with other meats, too, like bondiolita de cerdo, roasted pork shoulder wrapped in bacon, and pato en confit, duck confit grilled until crispy. The chinchulines de cordero, or lamb chitterlings, cooked to a golden brown, could convert any offal skeptic.

And if your stomach can handle it, you could order it all, since one of the real thrills of dining out in Buenos Aires is that it’s embarrassingly inexpensive. The Argentine peso was once at a one-to-one exchange with the dollar, but now it’s settled at about three to one, which means that at La Cabrera, one of the most expensive parrillas, the provoleta, at 13 pesos, will set you back just a tad more than $4. The bondiolita, at 23 pesos, costs less than $8 and can easily feed several. An indulgent dinner for two will total about $40, and if you budget another $20, you can let your finger drift to the bottom of the wine list.

While La Cabrera is a faithful re-creation of the traditional parrilla, some of the best of Palermo Viejo’s new places are about tweaking tradition. Elles, which opened last year in a former house and garage, has a small, and very good, menu of French-inspired dishes and cleaned-up Argentine classics like chipirones a la plancha, or seared baby squid with corn, and bife de chorizo, grilled rib-eye. The space has been whitewashed and left empty except for mismatched oak furniture and an opulent chandelier, giving the room a loftlike elegance. At Divina Patagonia, the regional sampler platter offers a refined introduction to the ingredients of the rugged south: an assortment of sausages, cheeses and cured meats, including smoked deer sliced as thin as prosciutto. Main courses are hearty dishes in delicate portions — Patagonian lamb, deer loin, wild boar braised in beer.

A wave of Italian immigration in the late 1800’s left a lasting impression on Argentina’s culinary landscape: the grilled steak may be the country’s most celebrated dish, but the Milanesa, a breaded veal cutlet, is its comfort food. Order it at El Preferido de Palermo, a 75-year-old Italian grocery and lunch counter, where schoolchildren in uniforms jockey with businessmen in suits for one of the chest-high tables. Milanesa de peceto comes piled high with fries or topped with tomato sauce and melted mozzarella. If you have time, you might linger over the gran picada, an antipasto sampler with 13 different small bites — sausages, olives, wedges of frittata, a hard-boiled quail’s egg neatly sliced in half — accompanied by Hesperidina, an Argentine aperitif every bit as minty and murky as an Italian fernet.

El Preferido de Palermo has weathered Palermo Viejo’s transformation just fine. So has La Cupertina, a homey spot where empanadas are an art, and the owner, Cecilia Hermann, who stands behind a rustic table like a captain commanding a flagship, is a legend. La Cupertina’s empanadas are half the size of what you buy on the street but immeasurably more delicious; try the humita y cebolla y queso, sweet corn and onion and cheese, which is as creamy as pudding, and the carne, a rich, spicy mixture of stewed beef. (And at a little more than 50 cents each, you feel like apologizing when you pay.)

Just a couple blocks away is Casa Cruz, Palermo Viejo’s most fashionable restaurant and the site of a nightly crush of actors, politicians, soccer stars and paparazzi. You can find entourages and expensive drinks there, and, for that matter, anywhere, but you can find food like La Cupertina’s only in Argentina.

WHERE TO STAY

Palermo Viejo is home to some of the city’s newest and coolest places to stay. 1555 Malabia House High-design B&B in a historical building. Malabia 1555; 011-54-11-4833-2410; www.malabiahouse.com.ar; doubles from about $105. Bo Bo Hotel Boutique hotel with modern rooms and a popular restaurant. Guatemala 4882; 011-54-11-4774-0505; www.bobohotel.com; doubles from $100. Five Cool Rooms In fact, 16 rooms, modern design and a great roof garden. Honduras 4742; 011-54-11-5235-5555; www.fivebuenosaires.com; doubles from $90. Home Hotel Bright rooms and a hip English-speaking staff, with a pool and a garden in the middle of the city. Honduras 5860; 011-54-11-4778-1008; www.homebuenosaires.com; doubles from $115. For luxe digs outside the neighborhood, try the new Palacio Duhau-Park Hyatt (011-54-11-5171-1234; www.parkhyatt.com; doubles from $410) or the classic Alvear Palace Hotel (011-54-11-4808-2100; www.alvearpalace.com; doubles from $550), both in Recoleta.

WHERE TO EAT

La Cabrera Cabrera 5099; 011-54-11-4831-7002; entrees about $6 to $12. La Cupertina Cabrera 5300; 011-54-11-4777-3711; entrees $3 to $5. Divina Patagonia Honduras 5710; 011-54-11-4771-6864; entrees $6 to $13. Elles Honduras 5916; 011-54-11-4777-9555; entrees $8 to $11. Jangada Honduras 5799; 54-11-4777-4193; entrees $5 to $19. El Preferido de Palermo Jorge Luis Borges 2108; 011-54-11-4774-6585; small plates $1 to $5.

Source: The New York Times – Travel Section

Buenos Aires Museums

Buenos Aires contains a number of museums, galleries, and exhibition halls. Museums: MALBA: Av. Figueroa Alcorta 3415 (Palermo) A well-known museum of Latin American art. Thu. to Mon. 12-8 pm. Closed on Tuesdays.  Contact: 4808-6500 / Fax: 4808-6598

Malba Museum of Latin American Art

Malba Museum of Latin American Art

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes: Av. del Libertador 1473 (Palermo) The biggest museum in Buenos Aires. Argentine and international paintings and sculptures are found in this often quiet museum. Tue. to Fri. 12.30-7.30 pm. – Sat. Sun & holidays 9.30am-7.30pm.  Contact: 4803-0802 / Fax: 4803-8817

Casa Museo Carlos Gardel: Jean Jaures 735 (Abasto) The house of the most famous tango singer that ever lived. Carlos Gardel occupied the house with his mother, from 1927 until his death in 1935. Opens: Mon, Wed, Thu, Fri. from 1.00pm to 5.00pm. Contact: 4964-2015

Museo Xul Solar: This is a good small museum constructed in the old house of the painter by the same name. Xul Solar used colorful themes and esoterism along with a variety of weird objects. Laprida 1212. Phone: 4824-3302 Tuesday-Fridays 12-20hs.Fridays 12-19hs.

Museo de Ciencias Naturales Bernardino Rivadavia: Av. Angel Gallardo 470 (Parque Centenario) There you’ll find a huge collection of the natural resourses of Argentina and the Antartic. Mon. to Sat. 2-7 pm. Contact: 4982-5243/5550

Museo de Motivos Argentinos José Hernandez: Av. del Libertador 2373 (Palermo) Full of gauchos artifacts, the history of mate, information about important Argentines from colonial times, and the history of the aborigenies. Wed. to Fri. 1-7 pm. Sat. and Sun. 3-7 pm. Contact: 4802-7294