Un curanto

A curanto is a traditional Mapuche way of cooking a feast, similar to the Hawaiian luau and the cooking methods of many other native groups. (From the little I know about the Mapuche, a broad population of native people living in southern Chile and southwestern Argentina, this brief Wikipedia entry is more or less accurate.)

There is a group of Mapuche living in community outside of Bariloche on land that they reclaimed, and that’s where the curanto pictured below was held. I talked to a couple of the guys and they are intent on maintaining their culture—and were dismissive of the curanto held weekly at the tourist site Colonia Suiza, which is organized by European-heritage people and includes modern innovations—but they admitted it’s a hard row to hoe. Neither of the guys knows the indigenous language, and at least one has a mixed heritage including an Italian father. They raise fruits and vegetables for sale in the summer and find other work, including construction, to pay the bills the rest of the year.

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