First, the holiday itself does provide sufficient motive to celebrate. Tomorrow will mark the 198th anniversary of the end of Spanish rule and the beginning of local rule. That earliest government turned out to be the first of several juntas in Argentine history. However, it was a civilian one elected by and composed of Buenos Aires “criollos,” i.e., the Spanish-heritage upper class. Taking advantage of the power vacuum that had recently been created by Napoleon's defeat of Spanish King Ferdinand, these civic-minded citizens were installed without the usual military coup.
So how should we observe this date? Roberto tells me that during his childhood, the day was marked by military parades, but after the horrors of later military juntas, the soldiers and tanks gave way to marching school children. And now even that has pretty much withered away.
And in fact, few years ago on this date, I enjoyed just that with a local family that thoughtfully invited me over to taste the traditional dish, called “locro.” I scarfed down two servings of this amazingly chunky stew with corn (still on the cob!), white beans, beef, intestine, pork, squash, onions, fat, and seasonings. I have yet to make it but now have a good recipe.
Instead of slurping stews or savoring grilled gaucho beef, tomorrow we will brown bag it with ham and cheese sandwiches in order to attend a huge pro-farm rally at the Flag Monument in Rosario, the nearby big city, second in importance only to Buenos Aires (okay, maybe tied with Cordoba). Rosario, natives told me, was once known as the Argentine Chicago. I innocently assumed the nickname stemmed from its dominance as the grain-shipping capital, but no, no, no! Eighty years ago Rosario teemed with immigrants, mafias, corrupt police, and bordellos, the latter luminously, colorfully captured in the paintings of a local artist Pat Vidour.
Then after we get home from Rosario, just to meet the Peronist ante and raise it, we’ll get out the malbec, put on some traditional Argentine music followed by some tangos, and then call it a day. A really good day!