Argentina Day 4: Learning to bake alfajores and exploring Recoleta Cemetery

Amir asked me this morning why I love Eva Perón so much… I had to stop and think… and correct him. Love isn’t the right word – it’s more that she fascinates me.

Eva Perón grew up a poor, illegitimate child and moved to Buenos Aires at age 15 to pursue a career in acting and television. She struggled for years until she met then Secretary of Labour, Juan Perón. They married a year later. He became president of Argentina in 1946.

“Evita” as the country would come to call her, was dichotomous in every sense. Elegant and underprivileged. Benevolent and self-promoting. Divisive and unifying. As a woman, she pushed her way (and coaxed people into inviting her) into social spheres and roles no other First Lady had. She even ran for Vice President. She was adored and despised. She was far from perfect but never claimed to be. Maybe I identify with her.

Today we visited her family grave at Cementario Recoleta. But first, let’s talk about our milanesas lunch and the delicious cookies we made.

Milanesa Patagónica
Milanesa Napolitana

Milanesa is a traditional Argentinian dish which borrows from Italian roots. They take a variety of meats – veal, pork, chicken – pound it thin and bread it. This particular restaurant, La Casa de la Milanesa, treated the milanesa like a pizza crust, offering a selection of toppings with a side of fries. Delicious.

Andra Bakery, Recoleta, Buenos Aires

Our next stop was at Andra Bakery to take a “clase de pastelería,” or a pastry class. We’ve come to enjoy the “experiences” you can find on AirBnB, so when we saw the chance to bake our own traditional alfajores, we jumped.

Aspirational models

For $40 per person, you get very personal instruction from the owner. She limits each class to three people, so your lesson is essentially private.

Over two hours, you make three different cookies, each with a slight variation on the traditional alfajores.

You weigh your bowl as you add ingredients, taking care to tare the scale along the way. You mix the dough with your bare hands, then chill it in the refrigerator while mixing the next batch. The cook time is short, and the ROI high. We walked out with two whole boxes of cookies, new knowledge and the joy of a unique experience.

After cookies at Andra Bakery, we walked two blocks to enter El Cementario de la Recoleta. I never knew there was a list of Top 10 Cemeteries in the world, but Recoleta is on it.

Many famous Argentinians are buried here including Eva Perón, the founder of the Argentinian Navy and numerous past presidents.

While for most of its existence it’s been restricted to the notable and wealthy in society, for a few short years Recoleta was open to public burials. As a result you’ll find some very common people resting next to Argentinian greats.

Eva Perón is buried here, despite a huge push for her to be returned to the small humble village where she was raised.

Tomb for the Duarte Family and Eva Perón

Sadly Eva Perón died at the age of 33 from what most believe was cervical cancer. Her untimely death makes her rise to fame so much more interesting to me as I’m left wondering what she could have accomplished with more years.

Inside one of the neglected tombs

After Recoleta and a brief siesta back at the apartment, we took an Uber to La Estancia, a meat lovers paradise. It’s akin to the Brazilian steakhouse, but is much more personalized and less mass market.

We started with a caprese salad, beef empañadas and some fresh bread.

For our main course, we ordered a mixed barbecue of lamb, pork ribs, sausage, suckling pig and beef.

It arrived steaming, snapping and crackling on a bed of hot coals. Our experienced waiter had covered my bag in the chair beside me with a yellow linen. When our dish arrived, it was then that I understood why.

We’re packing up tonight for our flight to Bariloche tomorrow. Bariloche is in the Patagonia region and from photos most resembles Switzerland meets Breckinridge. We’ll see if the photos hold true.

-Steph

One thought on “Argentina Day 4: Learning to bake alfajores and exploring Recoleta Cemetery”

  1. Glad you got to fulfill your dream to see the grave, Steph. Very satisfying. The cooking class too looks like lots of fun. That plate of sizzling meat and the Caprese salad is to die for. Seems like there’s a lot of walking…. take it easy, Steph. That being said , I went round the world at six months pregnant….but I don’t recommend it ! Safe travels tomorrow. Awaiting details.

    Like

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