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The Feria de Mataderos

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Gaucho Stories

The barrio of Mataderos, former home to Buenos Aires’ slaughterhouses, has always been tightly linked to gaucho culture and the meat industry. In fact, the neighborhood is also known as “Nueva Chicago”: a nickname the local football team still plays under.

Not Fake

Though the days of gauchos leading herds of cows into Mataderos for the slaughter have long passed, the neighborhood still strongly identifies itself with gaucho culture. The connection is never more evident than on Sunday, during the Feria de Mataderos, a wonderful celebration complete with music, food, trick riding and stands selling everything that can possibly be made from a cow.

The barrio is far outside the normal tourist haunts of Buenos Aires, but if you have a free Sunday, it’s absolutely worth the effort. In fact, it’s one of the best things we did during our months here. Stepping off the 126 bus, shopping was our first order of business. There was so much to browse through, from knives and matecitos to leather vests and wine flasks made of cow hooves. With friendly vendors and incredible prices, it was a blast to browse around; I bought a leather belt with “Argentina” stitched into the loop for $40 (US$10).

Our shopping was interrupted by the beginning of a dance concert. A group of young gauchos and chinas got onto the stage and proceeded to tear the place up. They were from a nearby town, and in a very flamboyant performance, demonstrated that gaucho culture isn’t all machismo and mate. I never thought I’d find myself enthusiastically clapping for a group of dancing cowboys, but there you are.

The food was great, too, though getting any required herculean patience. While Jürgen hunted for a place to sit, I waited in line for nearly an hour, to order empanadas, tamales and sweet red wine. Arms precariously full of food, I stepped through the crowd searching for Jürgen, finding him at a table with an Argentine family, with his mouth full. They were forcing him to try their locro, a corn-based stew, and regaling him with stories of the different Argentine cities he simply had to visit. I joined in the conversation, and we enjoyed one of the most entertaining meals we’ve had in Buenos Aires.

After eating, we said adiós to our new friends and went to watch the horse riding competition. Gauchos propelled their horses at breakneck speed down the street and attempted to spear a ring with a stick. I mean, a regular ring meant for a finger. A nearly impossible task, and the few competitors who succeeded happily soaked up the crowd’s appreciation.

Overall, the Feria de Mataderos met our expectations, and then some. Check out the video and pictures, and if you have the opportunity, don’t skip out on this fair. Tons of fun.

Feria de Mataderos
Location of the Fair on our Buenos Aires Map

Proud Gaucho
Tiny Gaucho
Gaucha
Gaucho Belt
Crafts Belts
Horn
Silver Horse
Wild Gaucho
Sweet Lady
Mean Gaucho
Gaucho Culture
Gaucho Dance
Spectacle
BBQ Heaven
Asado
Gaucho Sausage
Smoked Meat
Booty Knife
City Gauchos
For Sale
Gaucho Price
Corked
Hoof Work
Gaucho Kids
Gaucho Gear
Gaucho Fest
Super Gaucho
Lama Drama
Gaucho
Bar Oviedo
Cool Dude
Caja
Cool Gang
Eistruhe
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April 28, 2011 at 8:45 pm Comments (3)

San Telmo’s Market Hall

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Buenos Aires Map

Occupying a good chunk of the block sketched out by Estados Unidos, Defensa, Carlos Calvo and Bolivar, the Mercado de San Telmo is a place which locals and tourists visit in almost equal numbers. The latter to buy antiques and souvenirs, the former for their day-to-day groceries.

Telmo Dome

Since we precariously straddle the line between tourist and local, we use the mercado for both purposes. A number of veggie and meat stands compete for business in the center of the market, surrounded by antique shops that extend down long hallways. Prices for cool souvenirs, second-hand clothing and random trinkets are noticeably cheaper than at the Sunday antiques market. I picked up an old Carlos Gardel album for twelve pesos, and on that very day, saw the same album being sold for 60 outside.

The souvenir shops are a somewhat newer addition, capitalizing on San Telmo’s reputation as the best antiques hunting ground in the city, but the market has a history stretching back to 1897. It was inaugurated a couple decades after the Yellow Fever epidemic which devastated San Telmo, and the new center of commerce was greeted enthusiastically by residents. Ever since, the mercado has been an integral part of the neighborhood. In 2001, it was even declared a national historic monument.

When you go, take your wallet and take your time. It’s almost inconceivable that you’ll walk out without buying something. If you’re in the mood for meat, check out our favorite stand: Puesto 54. With incredible prices and friendly cleaver-wielding butchers always willing to explain the various cuts, it quickly became our go-to place for beef.

Mercado de San Telmo
Location on our Buenos Aires Map
Buenos Aires Travel Guides

Shopping Buenos Aires
Mercado San Telmo
Butcher Buenos Aires
Cuts of Meat Argentina
Chorrizo Buenos Aires
Butcher
Antiques
Antiques Buenos Aires
Sombreros Buenos Aires
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April 25, 2011 at 10:33 pm Comments (4)
The Feria de Mataderos
For 91 Days