Argentina has come to Fitchburg, WI. Recently, an argentine sandwich shop named Chimmies opened near my house. The menu isn’t extensive, but my parents were both quite pleased with their sandwiches; I stuck with the humita empanada (corn). The filling was quite different from the humita empanadas from good old Lo de Fercha, but it was still very tasty. They seemed to be fried, but were not the least bit greasy, and were nice and crunchy. Overall, definitely a place to visit again!

Empanadas (humita and beef)!

Empanadas (humita and beef)!

– Maddy


Latin America Comes to Pittsburgh

We’re officially done with finals! Maddy and Abi have already packed up and left campus for the summer, and I’m left here to chill for two weeks waiting around for Spain. That explains why I can now write about the Latin American and Caribbean Festival that happened weeks ago!

Surprisingly (to me, at least), Pittsburgh has a pretty strong Latin American community. The annual festival is definitely its time to shine. You can just imagine how excited I was to walk into rooms full of empanadas, dulce de leche, things made out of alpaca fur, and Spanish speakers galore. It was beautiful.

The main room with vendors and tables to set down your trays piled with deliciousness

Earrings from a Peruvian place in Pittsburgh's neighborhood of Squirrel Hill called Paititi - I couldn't decide which pair I wanted!

Jarritos! and a Mayan calendar at a vendor's table

Jerseys, of course

Twisty Wire Man, as I like to think of him

A Twisty Wire Man original creation


Robby showing off the empanadas we tried

Verdict: The spinach emps from Lo de Ferch@ (our regular empanada stop that was across from Elda's house!) are way better.

Yummy Peruvian place just a few blocks from my apartment! Yes, they have chicken.

FUN FACT #1: The Argentine woman who was at the table with the empanadas and the dulce de leche cake had a shirt on that said “Got empanadas?”. I, of course, freaked out and asked her where she got it from. She couldn’t really remember, so I was sad. I also forgot to take a picture of her, so I was extra sad.

FUN FACT #2: My mom bought me the shirt for my birthday. Everything has been righted.

1st sight upon entering the room with the performances: Truth & Rites -- Basically, lots of dreadlocks. Is the middle guy not absolutely terrifying?

Fake Colombians from Slippery Rock University! They definitely didn't dance like white people, though. It was pretty amazing.

LOOK AT THE TINY BABY DANCER (right)! Ahhhh she was so precious!

Also, these were the real Colombians. They didn't dance like white people, either.

The Latin American Cultural Union (LACU) of Pittsburgh had a whole medley of dance numbers. That little girl in the middle was in a bunch and was pretty bossy (in a good way).

The group I was with had to take a break (The festival was from noon to midnight! They weren’t messing around.), but we went back later to watch the Brazilian groups do capoeira and play music. I was too busy being amazed to really take pictures, so I’ll leave those images up to your own imagination.

If you’re near Pittsburgh for next year’s festival, come take a look! Or at least grab an empanada. I know I definitely will be.

– Alexa

“trapped with empanadas”

This fantastic piece of photography has been sitting in our unattached media folder for over a year now and I think it’s time it sees the light of day!

This is by far one of my favorite pictures of our time in Argentina – I don’t know why, but it’s a picture I always think of when I think of our time there! Now, some context for ya: Featured in the picture are Pat and Alexa and they are “trapped” in the empanada place we used to frequent (read: eat at every day.)

Just thought I’d reminisce!


Studying Abroad in Buenos Aires: What You You You Oughta Know

After living in Buenos Aires for 5+ months, I’d say we know our way around studying abroad there…sort of.

Here’s some of the tips, tricks, and things we wish we had known before our journey to Argentina!

1. Money! Cash is used pretty much everywhere in Buenos Aires, and it can sometimes be a hassle (see #5). I went equipped with a credit card and debit card, but I don’t think I used my credit card even once. For everyday money, I (and I believe Alexa and Maddy did this, too) would just get a couple hundred pesos out every few weeks and pay the $3 USD transaction fee each time. A friend of ours used Western Union to get extra money transferred from the States, and she had a few problems and it just seemed like a huge hassle, so I wouldn’t recommend going with that route.

2. Visas. Ohh, Visas. We had to pay about $140 USD when entering Argentina for a 3-month tourist visa. Customs officers will put a sticker in your passport and then if you enter Argentina anytime in the next 10 years you won’t have to pay that $140 USD. If you need the tourist visa for a little longer, you can just leave the country (head over to Uruguay for the day!) and once you get back to Argentina, you will then have a 3-month tourist visa from that date.

In order for us to get our transcripts sent back to the US, we had to get student visas (which is a whole ‘nother story). CEA held our hands through the process but one thing that went wrong at the end of our trip was that we didn’t know we had to pick up the official copy of the student visa, and we needed to present that copy to leave the country on our way home. One of our friends didn’t have that copy at the airport and had to run frantically around the airport (almost missing her flight home) and had to pay for a whole new student visa. Luckily, our friend warned us about this so we were able to get our official copies before we flew home, but make sure that doesn’t happen to you!

3. Ignore online packing lists. We were told that porteños had an impeccable sense of fashion, which is true, but you aren’t a porteño. Bring some workout clothes (whether or not they are fashionable) if you think you are going to want to go for a run through the beautiful neighborhoods or join a gym. I remember reading, while researching my trip, that porteños don’t really wear shorts. I’m extremely glad I ignored that little detail and packed all my shorts. The second you open your mouth, they are going to know you aren’t from Argentina, so just put aside all those worries about fitting in and just pack what you know you will be comfortable in!

4. Take as many classes in Spanish as possible. You aren’t going to Argentina to learn English! We had the option of taking our courses in Spanish or English at the University of Belgrano and I think choosing all Spanish courses was definitely one of the most beneficial parts of improving our language skills. My listening comprehension skills have increased tenfold after hearing Spanish lectures for an entire semester!

5. Don’t pay for your cab with a $100 peso bill – even if they say it’s ok. It’s kind of a funny story. Well, not really funny. I mean, as funny as someone getting pepper sprayed can be. Yeah, now you’re intrigued! Here’s the rundown: Girl. 21st birthday. Goes out in Buenos Aires. On her way home, hails a cab. Gets in cab and tells the cabbie she only has a $100 peso bill. Cabbie says “Sure, come on in.” Takes girl home. Girl gives him bill. He refuses to take it. Gets angry. Verbal argument in drunken Spanish. Cabbie won’t give her change, so girl gets out. Cabbie jumps out of car, PEPPER SPRAYS HER, and drives off.
What?! Seriously?! I can’t even…
So, moral of the story: always break bills BEFORE going out on the town. (The girl was fine, by the way!)

6. Learn the bus system. Taxis are expensive. Walking is nice, but its a big city. This site saved us. Learn and love, my friends.

7. Bring your own tampons. They are nowhere to be found in Buenos Aires, so bring enough for your whole trip! Or, if you’re like Alexa and care about the environment and don’t want to take up all of your bag space with girl products, try one of these. Supposedly they’re awesome.

8. Sad news: There is no close beach. Looking at a map you see that the city has a river on one whole side and you think “sweet, I’ll get to hang out at the beach alllll the time!” Nope. For our beach experiences, we had to travel 5 hours down the coast or to an entirely different country.

Beach NOT in Buenos Aires (its in Uruguay!)

9. Live close to an empanada place. You may not be able to control this one, but its great for many reasons. Empanadas are cheap, for one; they’re delicious; and you WILL miss them once you’re no longer in Buenos Aires.

10. Three words: Buenos Aires Delivery. We’ve mentioned this one many times before, but we almost lived off of this. And those empanadas from #9.

11. Hoard your coins. Seriously, don’t let anyone take your monedas! They are your most valuable possession if taking public transportation (buses don’t take bills.) You can always stop into a bank and exchange $10 or $15 pesos into monedas on your way to school!

Hopefully some of these tips will help make your trip just a little bit easier!

We are currently knee deep in finals, so writing this blog post was a nice little escape from the studying! Wish us luck!!

If you have any questions (seriously, any questions) please leave a comment or shoot us an email at!

Tango Café

Post-Chile and pre-Argentina, Abi, Maddy, and I checked out the Tango Café in Pittsburgh’s neighborhood of Squirrel Hill to see what we might encounter during our semester abroad. If I remember correctly, that was the first time I tried mate, and someone ordered a pastry filled with dulce de leche, so I think we got a decent preview! Now that we’ve seen it all and are back, we can recognize everything on the menu and even get a little nostalgic about it. That’s why I had no problem meeting my friend Merritt (another Pitt student we met in BsAs!) there on a Sunday afternoon when the café has its Spanish conversation tables.

The place was just as adorable as I remembered, and I had to smile while reading my options and perusing the display case full of pastries. A group of older men and women had gathered at a round table and began to chat in Spanish. I could tell they were still learning, and also talking about car insurance, so I chose to sit at a different table near the window and just listen. Despite mistakes and obvious struggling by a few members, it was inspiring to see people openly appreciate and immerse themselves in a different culture in any way that they could. It was equally inspiring to be in a place that allowed them to do so!

Then Merritt showed up, so I started appreciating my mate a bit more and focused on getting caught up. All of the little Argentine touches around the place kept distracting us though, and we got sucked into our remember-whens and if-only-we-coulds.


Chocolate-covered alfajores! Hooray!

A lone empanada to accompany that café con leche

Mini Carlos Gardel shrine!

Although we were grasping on to the past, I think mine and Merritt’s memory diving was a necessary form of therapy. I think all study abroad students have some difficulty trying to incorporate the experiences they had with their current and future lives when those experiences seem so far away. There was definitely a lot of travel talk going across the table. Girls can dream, can’t they? We also got into some past and current issues in Latin America, like how some young U.S. economists faked Brazil’s currency to stop crazy inflation and the ongoing exploitation of the land and inhabitants of the Amazon. If you live in/near Pittsburgh, I brought up the city’s Spanish language meet up, too! We might check out their Christmas gathering on December 3rd.

I’d say it was an extremely productive and therapeutic trip to the Tango Café – a breath of fresh air after all the school craziness we’ve had lately. Now that I’m in the holiday spirit, I can end by saying that I’m thankful for good friends, future plans and dreams, and little bits of Argentina to remind me of the “good ol’ days”.

– Alexa

Empanadas Americanas

After much ado, HERE is the empanada post! I’ve been meaning to try making empanadas since we came back from Argentina, but just never made the time or got the motivation. I never really learned how, so that could have contributed, too. Thankfully, Friday Night Dinner makes me get adventurous, and let me say, it was definitely an adventure.

We were expecting a pretty sizable crowd, so my roommate and I thought we’d be super planners and make a few things ahead of time. Enter: cilantro pesto and corn-and-red-pepper filling. Mmmmm.

This was followed by a grocery store trip in which we gathered the rest of our ingredients. Unfortunately, the biggest grocery store near us didn’t have the tapas for the outside crust of the empanadas. Improvising, I decided that phyllo dough would suffice since it was the only frozen dough available. Well, it doesn’t. An hour, a realization, and an emergency store trip later, the dough was magically made from scratch.

Erin, you're the best.

After that hiccup, it was time to start filling! We were lucky enough to have a lot of help from a couple of Chilean friends that Maddy, Abi, and I met two summers ago along with their French roommate. It was like a little international empanada workshop!

Our imported help 🙂

Look at the first-timer go!

We ended up making more variations than expected. We had planned for the corn-and-red-pepper, pesto chicken, and spinach empanadas. A last-minute decision had us making caprese empanadas, too (because they’re the best ever). Then, after an outcry from the Chileans that there were no traditional meat empanadas (I know, what an outrage), a batch of those was whipped up.

Caprese deliciousness

(Cilantro) pesto chicken!

I'm assuming you can guess which one it is..

The meat ones are not pictured due to the mad rush to make them first (because apparently they’re more important than all others). They were ginormous and had rave reviews.

Got creative enough to differentiate between kinds!

We were feeling fancy, so they all got an egg bath for aesthetic baking effects.

So close!

Ahhh.. the finished product.

Really, if that isn't beauty, then what is?

Thankfully we had a bunch of leftovers following the feast. Once empanadas are actually made, they’re one of the most convenient snacks ever. I’m surprised to announce that there is one lone corn empanada buried in our fridge a full two weeks after the endeavor! I might have to go fix that.

– Alexa

Checking In

For some reason, week 5 of classes is swamping us all with tests galore. Hey, we’re a third of the way done after this week! Anyway, we’re being good kiddies and studying for our accounting/finance/Spanish/whatever tests. There are bunches of little fun things that have happened in the last week, though!

Last Friday was my turn to make dinner, so I used the opportunity to attempt empanada-making for the first time. I followed one of the recipes that Maddy used and then almost ALL of the recipes that can be found at .My.Beautiful.Air. I’ll be writing about that ASAP! (*Spoiler Alert*: they were delicious!)

For now, back to learning how to value stocks and bonds. Ha, yeeeeaaaah.

– Alexa

It’s about emp time!

That’s right, the time had finally arrived in my house. I’ve been craving some of our Argentine favorites for a while now, and my dad finally took the initiative to indulge me in one of those: empanadas! I got all too excited Wednesday night when I say the dough process begin, only to be informed that the actual empanadas would come the following day. So come Thursday, I readied my camera and flitted about the kitchen like the paparazzi, trying to document this momentous event.

The empanada making process at its finest (recipe from a local news station):

Cooking the veggies for the choclo filling!

The stuffing process (and yes, he used two different crimping methods to distinguish between meat and veggie!)

The finished product!

Eating at the proper time, no less!

A typical Argentine dessert to finish, of course 😉 - homemade cherry pie!

Curious as to the results of our intrepid foray into empanada making? ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!!! The crust was thinner than anything I had in BA, but that was only for the better. It may have just been too long since I’ve had them, but these may have even beaten Elda’s (don’t tell her, though!).

This was definitely a little taste of Argentina, and it made me miss everything just a little bit more… hopefully our next adventure – into the realms of medialunas from scratch – is just as successful!

– Maddy