Out of the blue this week I have been gifted two books by lovely friends. Both books look fascinating and are on topics close to my heart – Buenos Aires and French women. Thank you Libby and Suad. The only difficult thing is to decide which one shall I read first.
I love the language and word-based art of Argentinian artists Léon Ferrari and . Much of his work is illegible, but you make can out some of the letters and it is clear that it is text. Some of it, the text is quite clear, but very carefully placed on the page for aesthetic effect.
From the roof of death, the unstoppable force of life sprouts. Sheltered by the wings of angels, a multitude of flora creates new life in the Recoleta Cemetery, defying the fixedness of stone and mocking all notions of the permanence of life or death.
What delicious little packages empanadas are! A hand sized pastry pillow encasing a tasty savoury filling. Every part of Argentina and South America has their own signature variety with different fillings, some baked, others fried. I don’t know if there is a specific Buenos Aires empanada, but I would agree with other gastronomers that El Hornero in the San Telmo market has the best empanadas in the city. For the princely sum of 120 pesos (AU$3), many a time I satisfied my hungry stomach with two delicious empanadas. The different shapes indicate their filling, and I have a particular soft spot for the melted perfection of cantimpalo y queso (spciy sausage and cheese), and the carne salteña frita (fried with meat and potatoes), with a delicious red pepper and chilli sauce.
I always get a kick out of learning something new, and this month in Buenos Aires has been like a giant kick up the bum! I’ve learned to get by in Spanish, negotiate a new city and dance a new and very difficult dance. I still have a an awful lot to learn, but I’m making progress. I danced my last dance in Buenos Aires this evening, and even though ladies are not really allowed to ask gentlemen to dance (it’s always the other way around), I asked my teacher, Juan-Pablo, for my last tango in this fair city. He kindly obliged and danced me around the floor with expertise, playfulness and love.
There is a sense of completeness in closing the cover of a book after reading the last page. The reading experience continues as you digest the words, pages, ideas and stories, but the actual reading is done. For me there is always a calm that comes with that closure, as I won’t start a new book for a few days. The tiny moment of literary inertia between what has been read and what will be read next is a lovely bubble of accomplishment and hope.
This morning I finished Amanda Palmer’s Art of Asking (for the second time). It’s an excellent book. And yes, I know I’m crazy for taking real books travelling, but I like the feel of a book and a device doesn’t have that.
Shape, form, texture, colour, perspective: I’m always drawn to sculpture. The Museo del Arte Moderno has a fabulous and large collection of sculpture (as well as 2D works) from the turn of the century through to today. My favourites were the early 20th century cubist sculptures and the indigenous works, which is no coincidence as they share an aesthetic of full shapes. I love being able to walk around a work and look at it from different angles, but I’m always reigning the urge to touch, to feel the form.
I confess, it’s late. 3am to be precise. That’s what you do here in Tango-land on Thursday nights, and I left early! The day began early with a tango class at 11:15am, included a concert in the early evening of top notch tango music, and finished after a lovely night of dancing with fellow students and teachers from tango school. My feet will enjoy a good night’s sleep.
El Ateneo is usually described as ‘the most beautiful bookshop in the world’ and I cannot argue. It is certainly the most beautiful bookshop I’ve ever set foot in. Housed in the stunning and well kept Gran Splendid theatre (which first opened in 1919), it is an absolute treat to be surrounded by books as well as a glamorous old theatre. The domed ceiling is painted with celestial scenes, the private boxes are now reading rooms, and the stage is home to the cafe, where you can study the set mechanisms and enjoy the performers view. It is a truly wonderful repurposing of a classic building.