Symbols of a nation

It’s not just steak that springs to mind when you think of Argentina. As famous for its footballers and the tango as for its food, this is a country with distinct cultural icons.

Wherever you go in Buenos Aires, people will be dancing the tango. From extravagant shows to impromptu performances in the back rooms of cafes, you’ll never be far from a milonga in this city.

The music, lyrics and dance of the Argentine tango emerged from the poorer neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires at the start of the twentieth century. Reflecting the vibrant changes happening in the capital due to the arrival of European immigrants, it’s a complex and sensual combination of existing Argentine culture and those arriving from abroad.

But it’s not just tango that helps define this diverse country: for many Argentines, football is a way of life. Around 90% of the population support a football club, and over half of these are fans of Boca Juniors or River Plate.

These two teams from the Buenos Aires area of La Boca face each other in a passionate derby each year: the superclasico. Undoubtedly the two biggest clubs in Argentina, they’ve produced some of the world’s greatest footballers, including Diego Maradona – a player some Argentines hold up as a god-like icon in the Iglesia Maradoniana, or Church of Maradona.

However, nothing brings together the men, women and children of Argentina like food. Sunday meals are family affairs, where extended families will gather to discuss politics and football, or simply to catch up and eat. The ubiquitous steak is a popular choice for these gatherings, as is fresh pasta. But whatever the dish, you can be sure it’s cooked and eaten with the culinary passion that Argentina has become famous for.

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