UT students and members of the Knoxville community gathered at the great room of the International House on Wednesday from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. to celebrate Argentine culture through wonderful food and exceptional entertainment.
As students entered the great room, it was if they entered a café on the streets of Argentina. With glamorous white lights hanging from the ceiling to illuminate the room, participants felt as if they were sitting outside in the moonlight eating in the good company of friends like the Argentine's often do.
Argentina is a large country that has a diverse climate, geography and culture. Fernando Reboredo
The Latin American Student Organization opened the night's festivities. The student members discussed intriguing topics to represent various aspects of Argentine history, geography, sports and food in an educational presentation.
The members encouraged the audience to observe posters that hung from the ceiling with photos to represent each topic and connect their importance.
At that point of the night, students were mainly concerned with filling their empty stomachs with the bountiful buffet of authentic Argentine food. "My favorite thing on the menu was the pasta, but the dulce de leche was delicious," Casey Harley, UT freshmen, said.
Items available on the menu were pasta (spaghetti), media lunas (croissants), ensalada (lettuce and tomato salad), dulce de leche (caramelized sweetened condensed milk), salsas (marinara), carne asada (grilled meat), chorizo (sausage), empanadas: de jamon y queso, de verduras (ham and cheese or vegetable stuffed pastry) and tarta (quiche with savory fillings) with salsas (marinara and chimichurri).
Also joining Argentine culture night were members of the Knoxville Argentine Tango Society and their families. While students were exposing their taste buds to real Argentine dishes, members of KATS performed the traditional tango dance to exhibit a treasured part of Argentine culture.
"I blindly expected a faster dance, but I enjoyed watching them. The tango is a very sensual and passionate dance with poised and fluid movements," Amit Jethanadani, junior in Biochemistry, said.
After the dancers took a bow, Fernando Reboredo, a member of KATS, presented information about Argentina. "Argentina is a large country that has a diverse climate, geography and culture," Reboredo said to begin his presentation.
During his presentation, he explained different facts of Argentina that are different from American culture. One aspect that had the students giggling was the traditional greeting of the Argentines. "If you receive a kiss, don't get too emotional. One kiss is used for a greeting," Reboredo said.
"Amigo" is a very strong word in the Argentine culture. Similar to relationships in America, friendships last longer than couples do. However, in Argentina, most people live their whole lives at the same neighborhood having grown up near their whole family.
Unlike in American culture, women of Argentina continue to use their maiden name after they are married. Children adopt the family names of both their mom and dad.
Argentina is rich in cultural arts. Every region of Argentina has its own characteristics. Each region has its own folk music that is very distinct from the others. However, the dance in folk music is very structured, with specific acrobatic steps to be followed.
All this discussion of dancing made the students very eager to try it themselves. The KATS members took volunteers to the dance floor and held free tango lessons as the night came close to an end.
The Argentine culture night event the I-House hosted was very informative as well as fun and entertaining. Many students enjoyed learning about an interesting foreign land, hearing and talking to Argentine natives themselves, comparing Argentine culture to their own and enjoying a wonderfully cooked authentic dinner-all for just $3.