Libertango!

TIM HAZELL

By Tim Hazell

 

Little road that time erased,

that one day saw us walk by together,

I have come for the last time,

I have come to tell you my woe.

- Tango lyrics “Caminito”

 

Argentinian tango lyrics are often profound, the result of collaborations such as the style of the Boedo group of poets. One of the most famous examples of the genre, “Organito de la Tarde” was written in 1923 by Jose Gonzalez Castillo. It is based on the theme of an old man and the languid music of his organito (barrel organ). The wooden leg of a companion accompanies the rhythms of the tango.

 

At the slow pace of a poor old man

Giving turns to the crank

The little organ at twilight

Fills the suburb with notes

A lame man marches behind

As his wooden leg

Marks the beat of the tango …

 

Cuban “Habanera,” dubbed “Tango Americano,” combined African and Haitian trends in rhythm and movement, becoming a sensation in countries such as Spain and America. The term is synonymous with “gusto,” finding extroverted release in the island’s cuisines, as well. These recipes for Picadillo (Cuban Hash) and Mojo Sauce evoke a rich ethnic panorama with an Afro-Cuban pulse.

 

Picadillo a la Habanera (Cuban Hash)

 

1 lb. ground lean pork or beef

1/4 lb. ground ham

3 tbsp. olive oil

3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1 bell pepper seeded, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 tsp. ground cumin

2 tbsp. tomato sauce

1 tsp. white vinegar

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

1 large potato, peeled and cubed into 1/2 inch pieces

1/4 cup coarsely chopped olives

4 eggs, fried sunny side up

 

Cooked white rice

 

Add olive oil to a large frypan and cook meat (except the ham) thoroughly. Add ham, onion, garlic, and bell pepper. Cook mixture till onions are translucent. Add ground spices, tomato sauce, and vinegar. Mix very well over medium heat until bubbling.

 

In another pan, fry the potato cubes until brown. Stir in olives. Layer on the rice and meat mixture, and top with the eggs. Serve very hot with Mojo sauce.

 

Mojo Sauce

 

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

10 large cloves garlic, peeled and very thinly sliced

1/4 cup onion, minced

1/4 cup coriander, finely chopped

1/2 tsp. ground oregano

2 tsp. ground cumin

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

1 cup fresh squeezed lime juice

1 cup water

 

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan. Add prepared garlic and onion and cook 2 to 3 minutes until pale golden brown, stirring constantly. Stir in the citrus juices, water, and all dry ingredients except coriander. Bring sauce mixture to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Stir the coriander into the cooled sauce mixture. Serve in a bowl alongside main dishes as an accompaniment.

 

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