LEARN MORE ABOUT ARGENTINA
Every city gives rise to its own urban culture, which manifests in many forms, among them street art. “Fileteado”, a type of artistic drawing, with stylised lines and flowered, climbing plants and dragons, is the unique artistic identity of the streets of Buenos Aires .
“Filetes” are usually full of colored ornaments and symmetries completed with poetic phrases, sayings usually humorous, roguish, emotional or philosophical. They have been a signature aspect of the culture of “porteños” (inhabitants of Buenos Aires ) since the beginnings of the 20th century. Fileteado was recognized as an art after 1970, when it was exhibited for the first time.
One thing which sets Argentina apart from all other Latin American countries is the predominantly Italian roots of its population. 25 million Argentines, that is, almost 60% of the country's population, can trace their ancestry to Italian relatives.
Italian customs and values are deeply ingrained in Argentine society, and Argentine slang includes plenty of Italian words. For that reason, Mexican Noble Prize Octavio Paz famously said “Argentines are Italians who speak Spanish and think that they are French”.
POLO, ARGENTINA'S TOP SPORT
In spite of being known for its great soccer team, the sport that has earned Argentina the most accolades is in fact polo! The Argentine polo team is unanimously considered to be the best in the world and has won two olympic gold medals and four world championships, more than any other national polo team... That means that the Argentine polo team has won twice as many world championships as the Argentine soccer team.
Argentines are famous beef-lovers who enjoy getting together for a hearty “asado” (Argentine barbecue). An equally popular Argentine dish is the “picada”, which consists of several plates of assorted ham, cheese and bread. Like many Argentine customs, the “picada” can trace its roots to Italy , in this case to the famous “antipasto”. Argentines love to gather round a table with friends to enjoy a glass of excellent wine and a big “picada”.
THE SILVERY REPUBLIC
Argentina 's official name is República Argentina in Spanish or Argentine Republic in English. The words “ argentina ” and “argentine” come from the Latin word “argentum”, which means silver. The country's name, therefore, means “the Silvery Republic ”. It comes from the Río de la Plata or “ Silver River ”, which separates Argentina from Uruguay .
Many people employ the wrong demonyms and adjectives when refering to people or things from Argentina . In fact, the proper word to use is Argentine; Argentinean or Argentinian are wrong terms. Writer and English language expert Jorge Luis Borges once said on the matter: “It's Argentine. Because you see, Argentine means silvery. You don't have to add Argentinian or Argentinean, because that's nonsensical. Someone invented it to rhyme with Bolivian and Peruvian, but Argentinean or Argentinian– there's no such words.”
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Almost all Argentines love to get together for a drink of "mate", an energizing infusion prepared by steeping dried leaves of the yerbate mate (llex paraguariensis) in hot water. Mate is usually served with a metal straw from a shared hollow calabash gourd. The straw is called a “bombilla” is traditionally made of silver or stainless steel. The water is poured into the gourd from a kettle or thermos. Another form of drinking mate is as a tea-bag infusion, called “mate cocido”.
Scientific studies confirm what long time users of mate have always maintained: this South American herb supports the immune system, helps to promote good sleep patterns, induces a sense of well-being and mental clarity, helps to control the appetite, enhances physical and mental performance and acts as a whole body tonic. The popularity of mate has grown over the last decade and it is readily available in supermarkets and health stores in Hong Kong.
Many international celebrities have taken up to mate drinking. Perhaps the most notorious mate lover is Hollywood actor Viggo Mortensen, who played King Aragorn in “Lord of the Rings”! Mortensen, who lived in Argentina while growing up, speaks flawless Spanish with the distinctive tell-tale Argentine accent.