From One Peña to Another

The spirit of Salta will not be grasped completely until we experience a folkloric peña night and good local cuisine at some of the fashionable night venues.

Nightlife in Salta is a box full of surprises. Whether we have gone on long lively outdoor tours all day, we will never miss the chance to eat out and see some of the festivals called peñas that offer the most authentic traditions of Salta.

During one week vacationing in this city usually referred to as La Linda (meaning “the pretty one”), we visited several venues with different styles. We ate out at excellent steak houses, more informal restaurants serving regional specialties, and also pubs where we enjoyed some drinks. Music, singing and dancing were always a good company and so was the joy of a people that succeeds in being spontaneous and sharing with visitors.

All the peñas, from the most famous, such as Los Gauchos de Güemes o Balderrama, which have been around for years, to the youngest local ones, have captivated their audience. The best known lyricists, poets and performers have left their indelible trace with their improvisations among friends. Cuchi Leguizamón, Manuel J. Castilla, Juan Carlos Dávalos, Los Chalchaleros, los Fronterizos are some of the most memorable names. "What will happen to us if Balderrama ceases to exist" is one of the lyrics that give the most accurate evidence of the essence of these celebrations.

  • Inevitable guitar

    Inevitable guitar

  • Excellent artists of Salta

    Excellent artists of Salta

  • The dance always accompanies

    The dance always accompanies

  • Salteño environment

    Salteño environment

Balcarce Street is one of the most popular, as when the night falls and the street lamps are lit everything becomes filled with color and music. It was interesting to see different cuisine styles. We tasted everything: high mountain gourmet cuisine, asado and, especially, the delicate cuts of llama and goat. The empanadas salteñas filled with chopped meat, the humitas and tortillas al rescoldo are some of the local specialties.

Once we made ourselves comfortable at our table, we choose what to eat and drink from a varied repertoire of delicacies and wines from Salta. Little by little, as the venue became crowded with customers, the show on the stage became the most important protagonist of the evening.

Andean music, including guaiños and carnavalitos, offered its usual sweetness and gave way to more daring sounds. The customers joined the rhythm waving handkerchiefs or singing along. In some cases, there is even a dancing floor to swish skirts to the sound of some zamba or chacarera. The important thing is to become involved with the experience, and everyone succeeds in doing that.

Peñas are the faithful reflection of how the denizens of Salta choose to live. They pay tribute to tradition and the customs inherited from their ancestors. They respect meals with the family and maintain the recipes passed on by their grandparents, even to make patero wine, a process in which the grapes are trodden by human feet.

For all these reasons, we let ourselves be carried away by the famous saying: “When in Rome, do as the Romans”.

Autor Mónica Pons Fotografo Pablo Etchevers


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