Sunday, May 17, 2009

Cooking the Argentine Way

I love food. I love reading about food (including reading cookbooks and recipes), I love watching cooking shows on TV and instructional cooking videos1 on the interwebs, I love food preparation from chopping to sautéeing, and I love baking. I am also passionate about eating. In short, food is my favourite hobby, and having a year sabbatical I have been hoping to spend more time on this hobby. So far I've mostly focused on the eating part (see: +1.5 kg). Aside from one (successful) foray into the world of empanadas a few weeks ago, I hadn't cooked any traditional Argentine fare until yesterday, when I attended the lovely and talented Norma Soued's Argentine cooking class.

Before we moved to Buenos Aires I searched2 for cooking classes, but only found classes taught in English and geared to tourists (read: expensive). A few weeks ago when I was perusing Craigslist3 I came across Norma's ad. I wrote to her to ask for more information about the class, and to confirm that she would, in fact, teach in Castellano4. Yesterday I went to her sunny apartment in Belgrano to learn how to make empanadas, guiso de lentejas (lentil stew), and alfajores.

I was very excited about the alfajores, as the only recipe I have seen for these delicious treats was in a Martha Stewart magazine, and it was insanely complicated (surprise surprise). I'm pretty sure it involved milking your own cow to make the dulce de leche.

Norma's class was great. She and the other student, Valeria, both speak English fluently, but since I really wanted to practice my Spanish they graciously (and patiently) agreed to speak Castellano. (Patience, for real: My brain on Spanish is Windows 98 on a 386.) We prepared all three dishes together, and everything was very well explained and hands-on. When we finished cooking, we enjoyed the delicious delicious fruits of our labour with a glass of red wine in Norma's beautiful dining room.

Taking a cooking class was a great way to further my burgeoning Spanish skillz, and happily I am now all set to make empanadas and alfajores5 for Ken's birthday shenanigans next weekend!

P.S. Norma also offers a Middle-Eastern cooking class that you can read all about over on her blog. I haven't taken it yet but if I do, you'll be the first to know.

1 Before I made empanadas the first time, I watched a bunch of videos on YouTube to figure out the technique of sealing the empanada called La Repulgue. In my searches I came across this empanada video that is totally worth 6 1/2 minutes of your time if you like things that are awesome.

2 I have since searched en español and found many more schools and classes that I'm interested in. Hooray!

3 Craigslist isn't so huge here. Most of the postings are for bars showing NBA games.

4 Latin American Spanish. Castellano:Español = English:British

5 Some alfajores will be filled with jam, because Ken doesn't like dulce de leche. I KNOW. [Candace: This is what is wrong with him.]


Candace said...

Well, at least now you know =)

montague said...


Marc said...

I don't like dulce de leche... but I don't much like jam either. What's that say about me?

Nicole said...

What a great class! We're thinking of doing a little piece on alfajores in our first issue. Soooooo gooooood.