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“Look what that is!” prompts Lisandro, a restaurateur, with well-tied dreadlocks, proudly pointing to the two huge pots in which a “sea” of locro has been cooked. It wasn’t just the aroma that called, but the colour, that very creamy texture and the fire underneath. Everything looked like a culinary montage in the style of a master chef: standing on the structure set up for cooking, another boy on top stirred and stirred vigorously, like a kind of folksy Poseidon.
There was more than half a block of people waiting to get their portions of Argentina’s most popular and national dish: the traditional locro. Everything took place in a well-known dining room on Castellanos and Las Heras. The portions already reserved were between 300 and 400. But the capacity of these two Ollones was 600 and it was expected that everything would be sold. Meanwhile there was another pot, smaller: a “veggie” stew made of lentils with vegan sausages. “It comes out very well, impressive,” says Lisandro, and while speaking to El Litoral, he oversaw to make sure the cooking was perfect.
Further in the Republic of Syria, almost as far as El Molino, Mara was taking orders, and next to her was another huge pot of locro. Jasmine stirred it every two minutes. Gonzalo wrote some numbers in a small notebook. “We have about 100 portion reservations. But there are already 60 tables that have been requested exclusively by customers for Locro lunch. We have prepared a total of about 250 portions because a lot of people come to shop at the last minute. I estimate that from the 1 of the worker) by this Wednesday, the 25th (the day of the May Revolution of 1810), the number of rations sold doubled,” says Mara.
But how long does it take to work so much in the kitchen? “Yesterday we spent most of the day preparing the ingredients, cutting, washing… skirt, red chorizo, pork shank, everything.
Mara confirms the novelty: “The vegan Locro is in high demand”. And he gives away the recipe’s secret, but that’s about it: “It’s got chickpeas, seitan chorizo (a substitute for meat with gluten), mushrooms, broccoli… It’s delicious,” he says. They also offer a vegan pastry with textured soy and raisins. And people “drink” with the offer. “It’s very good that there is this variety in a gastronomic offer and it seems to me that customers respond to it,” he adds.
The perfect dish is already served. Photo credit: Mauricio Garin
See you after the pandemic
“The recipe is the classic: the traditional locro is very creamy, neither soup nor anything coarse or hard. Cooking is essential. And no tripe or guts like guts that a lot of people work in the old way,” he tells Lisandro, as if revealing some of the secret of the recipe through a small crack.
The fact that locro is bought every 1st and 25th May in addition to July 9th may have a sociological explanation for the gastronomic youngster: “On the one hand, I believe that there are many people who maintain this tradition through generational unity. It’s a time to be with grandparents, uncles who are older and to share this dish … On the other hand, after the pandemic, people need to meet again to share and locro is a great excuse “, muses .
Locro was cooked for the first time in a well-known music club and restaurant. “We started with small portions because we’re just getting started. But so far we are doing well,” says one of the employees of the local newspaper. In addition to lentil stew, pastelones and fried empanadas, traditional and vegan locro were also offered there. A folklore concert was coming up and people were getting closer.
Of all the places consulted, the share of the traditional locro was between 800 and 850 pesos; the vegan one, 700 pesos. In some places, buying two, three, four, or five servings gave a discount on the cost of the serving. At the Castellanos and Las Heras premises, people continued to arrive in long lines to take “a little bit of home” with them in their Tupperware and pots.