J-Term Journal 2: Two Cultures ‘Meat’ at the Andes

The dawn of 2012 brings to the University of Virginia a new January Term, an intensive two-week academic session that includes courses taught both on Grounds and internationally. One of the study-abroad options is “System Case Studies,” a joint offering of the School of Engineering and Applied Science and the McIntire School of Commerce. Led by engineering professor Reid Bailey and commerce professor Ryan Nelson, two dozen students venture to Mendoza, Argentina to work on consulting projects at two local wineries. Part of the class assignment is to write daily journal entries, which the UVA Today News Blog will post as they come in. To see all the posts from Argentina, click here.

By Chris Martin, Marina Arnold, Lauren Cash

Jan. 2, 2012 — Today started out with much promise and excitement as we met in the lobby waiting to be shuttled out of the city and into the foothills of the Andes. Upon arriving at the base of the mountain, students separated into two groups, which would battle the heat in different ways.

The group remaining at the bottom of the mountain was able to prepare one of the staple snacks of Argentina – the empanada. The second group hiked a steep two miles to the peak of the closest foothill. Throughout the journey, students dodged passing cars, faced extreme sun exposure, and saw wild horses. Once at the top, we were able to observe the great views of Mendoza and the surrounding area. We even witnessed our fearless leader, Professor Nelson, brave the jutting rocks to see the city from the best view on the mountain.

While the hikers were collecting a solid sunburn, the students at the base of the mountain learned to make the empanadas. Traditionally stuffed with seasoned beef and onions, these delicious snacks can also be made with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, and even dessert foods. We’re hoping to try as many as we can by the end of our two weeks in Mendoza.

As the hikers returned and rehydrated, we began to prepare the next course of our feast – asado (in English, “barbeque”). We had been warned it would be seasoned with a thick coat of salt, and we were not let down! As many of us seasoned different cuts of beef, we were encouraged to add more and more salt. Once cooked over hot coals, there was a seemingly never-ending supply of blood sausages (“la morcilla” in Spanish), chorizo and different asado cuts of meat. To finish the meal, we watched an Argentine prepare a traditional Argentinean green tea-like beverage called “mate” (pronounced mah-tay). Then, our courageous volunteer Charlie made one for us to share. There may have been more sugar than Yerba Mate in his southern interpretation of the beverage, but nonetheless it was delicious. As it is typically shared among friends, Mate was the perfect way to end our meal.

After a great day with friends, food, and a new culture, we met at the hotel to discuss our upcoming meetings with wineries tomorrow morning. Building off each other’s research, we developed a plan to analyze the strategies and systems of our two respective wineries, Vistandes and Trivento. We’re looking forward to hitting the ground running on our projects tomorrow!

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