GRIP, Internships Abroad Engaging with Argentine Cuisine from Philly
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June 7, 2021
Wendy Lliguichuzhca, CAS '22
SAHDES - Buenos Aires, Argentina
Over this past week of interning virtually in Buenos Aires, I’ve tried to find different ways to further connect and explore Argentina. Through a virtual tour organized by the Puentes team, my internship cohort and I were able to explore the neighborhood of San Telmo in real-time. Seeing the neighborhood and abundance of street art allowed me to gain a greater sense of the location I’ll be working in throughout these nine weeks. At one point in the walk-through, our tour guide, Santiago, took us to the historic Mercado de San Telmo, where we saw many small shops selling things ranging from fresh produce and meats to antiques. Seeing the different spaces in the market made me reflect on how my internship work on nutrition and lactation needs to be contextualized by local lived experiences, such as going to markets like that in San Telmo. While that’s difficult with a virtual internship, my conversations with my supervisor and the resources she’s provided me with have helped.
In the virtual tour, we were also taught how one is meant to prepare and drink yerba mate, a traditional Argentine beverage coming from the Guarani communities in Argentina. According to Santiago, yerba mate is meant to be shared amongst people, all drinking from the same gourd through a bombilla (a straw that has a filter at one end). Additionally, he showed us different baked goods commonly eaten, such as chipas, medialunas, alfajores, and bolas de fraile. I was so intrigued by these baked goods that I visited Jezabel’s Cafe, a local Argentine cafe here in Philly, and tried alfajores and Argentine empanadas. I’m not usually the biggest fan of dulce de leche, which is sandwiched between two cookies to make alfajores, but the ones from Jezabel’s Cafe were delightful. Additionally, the empanada fillings were very tasty and I was shocked by their empanada with an humita filling (spicy sweet corn and mozzarella cheese). The humita-filled-empanada allowed me to not only connect with Argentine cuisine but also re-connect with my Ecuadorian roots. Growing up, my family and I would always make humitas (a corn masa mixed with cheese that is steamed in corn husks) during the winter months. I grew up knowing this was an Ecuadorian tradition therefore seeing an Argentine empanada with that same filling made me curious to learn more. While humitas are mostly consumed in Ecuador, there are many variations in other Andean nations and northern Argentina. I think it’s fascinating how the shared history and biodiversity of the region led to different variations of dishes like humitas.
While it’s only been about a week of interning virtually in Buenos Aires, so far this experience has made me more curious and excited to learn about the rich history and culture of Argentina and the region as a whole. Once it’s safe to travel again, I hope to visit Buenos Aires and engage further with this incredible nation.
The Global Research and Internship Program (GRIP) provides outstanding undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to intern or conduct research abroad for 8 to 12 weeks over the summer. Participants gain career-enhancing experience and global exposure that is essential in a global workforce. Placements and funding awards are available.