Monthly Archives: August 2008

Tango Classes at Tango Brujo

I should begin by pointing out that I don’t know how to dance tango. I think it’s amazing though and I’d love to learn. So when my mom and niece were coming to visit, I decided it was time to take a couple of classes with people who know as little as I do and with whom I have no problem looking like a fool.

Trying to decide where to take tango classes in Buenos Aires is about is no easy task. I asked everyone I know who’s in the tango world and there was no consensus. A lot of people recommended La Viruta, the massive milonga in Palermo, but I had heard the classes at La Viruta were very crowded and I also knew that it attracts a younger group of people. Worried my mom might feel out of place and that we wouldn’t get any one-on-one attention from the instructors, I looked for something smaller. Tango Brujo was recommended in a discussion on Couchsurfing. And since I think the crowd over at Couchsurfers is pretty cool (read an earlier post about this project here), it sounded right for us, too. 

 Tango Brujo Shop

Tango Brujo is housed in a beautifully renovated building on Esmeralda in downtown Buenos Aires. There’s a gorgeous shop on the ground floor. The shoes and clothes are enough to make anyone want to become a tango aficionado. Unbelievably cool stuff! Head upstairs for the cozy dance studio. 

 Tango - Mom and Jordan

They offer classes for all levels and throughout the week, which makes planning a lot easier. We took two: Introduction to Tango, and the Beginners and Intermediate. What I liked about our classes at Tango Brujo was that there weren’t too many people and yet there were enough of us to change partners and get in a good bit of practice. 

 Tango Brujo - Instruction

The classes were in English and Spanish and the instructors were excellent. They were great at figuring out how quickly they could move on to the next step, who needed a bit of individualized attention, and making sure everyone was dancing even though there were more women than men and pairing people up was sometimes hard to do. 

Tango is as hard as I’ve always heard it was to learn. The problem for my mom, my niece and me was that in Louisiana we dance to Cajun or Zydeco music. It’s fast and loose. Hips move and bodies swing in Louisiana. By the end of the class, we’d learned to keep our hips still and wait for the guy to let us know what was coming. But sometimes it felt like I had to wait for an eternity and then I realized… that’s it. It’s that longing and resistance between the two that creates the mood.

An ex-boyfriend once told me I’d never be able to learn tango because I wouldn’t be able to let the guy lead (he was pretty mad at me when he said that). He may have been right, but now that I saw how that anticipation of the guy’s lead is how the couple manages to feel each other and know what’s coming without having to look at their feet or even at each other’s eyes and without their bodies even touching, I’m much more interested in trying to follow.

Here’s a short video of our first instructors, Pablo and Anita, at the end of the class showing us the steps we learned.

The classes cost 15 pesos per person. There’s a complete schedule on the beautiful Tango Brujo website.

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Filed under argentina, buenos aires, tango, tourism, travel

Cooking with Teresita

When my mom and niece came to visit at the end of July, I wanted to make sure they would leave wanting to come back again and again. Since my niece, who’s 15 years old, mostly wanted to shop and hang out in cafes people watching, and my mom mostly wanted to check out the architecture, eat delicious food, and see some museums and churches, I had to find something to do that would be a hit with both of them. Hmmm… what do we all have in common? Ah, yes. We all love to cook.

I researched online and found the options for cooking classes in Buenos Aires to be pretty scarce. Many of the classes in the city were oriented towards professionals. I was looking for something more informal, more fun.

Cooking with Teresita seemed to be the right choice. Apart from having a variety of options, I loved that she was located outside of the city. Taking the train from the Constitución station to Adrogué was easy enough. Trains depart every 30 minutes or so and Adrogué is about 30 minutes away. 

Adrogué is a colorful, elegant town. Its houses suggest it was inhabited by wealth families who wanted to get away from the city.

The Houses of Adrogué
We walked from the station to Teresa’s house where she teaches her classes. It’s clear Teresa was a school teacher for years before opening her B&B and offering cooking classes out of her home. Taught in English, the class was well organized and very hands-on and Teresa clearly loves sharing her knowledge of Argentinean cuisine.

Adrogué - Jordan and Lorraine
We learned to make the filling for beef empanadas first. We sauteed the onions until translucent and then added the ground beef. Next came the spices. Here’s the full recipe.

 

Adrogué - Adding the Spices
Next we prepared the corn filling, which is called humita. It’s a combination of onions, bell peppers and corn off the cob.

Adrogué - Humita

While we let the fillings cool off in the freezer, my niece prepared the dough (while I talked, of course).

Adrogué - Jordan Makes the Dough
It took us a while to get our circles of dough as symmetrical as Teresa and her granddaughter’s were, but we watched and learned. 

Adrogué - We Roll the Dough

Next we stuffed the empanadas and closed them up. We used two types of closures: one for the beef empanadas and one for the humita.

Adrogué - Awaiting the Oven
Most places that serve empanadas will tell you which type of closure is used for each filling. In some places, they may have 12 different types of empanadas. Checking the way the dough is folded will allow you to pick the empanada you want. 

Adrogué - Baked Empanadas

Teresa explained that a lot of people prefer baking empanadas to frying them, but the fried ones are much tastier. She was right. Half of our stash were baked and the other half fried.

Adrogué - Fried Empanadas

While both were delicious, the fried ones, sprinkled with a bit of sugar before being served, were amazing.

We sat out in Teresa’s back yard, where she has a cottage that serves as a B&B for those who want to get out of the city and take some of her more advanced classes.

Adrogué - Setting the Table

A bottle of Trapiche Malbec, and a bottle of Trapiche Torrontés were served with our warm empanadas. The two women staying at the B&B joined us.

Adrogué - Enjoying the Fruits of Our Labor

Our day in Adrogué cooking with Teresa was the perfect combination of learning about the food, the culture, and the wine while enjoying wonderful company and fantastic empanadas made by our hands. 

Here’s a video that aired on German television Teresa teaching a group of Germans how to make empanadas.

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Filed under argentina, buenos aires, culture, customs, food, tourism