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“Traditions are part of my essence as a cook”

The village cook, Elba Rodríguez, opens up cooking and life in the Month of Tradition. “I aim to value our tastes and flavors,” he says.


The seasons of  Masterchef  cooking  realities  pass, faces and celebrities pass, and people continue to remember the first winner,  Elba Rodriguez . A woman who with humility, and dishes learned under the love skirt of the mother, conquered the popular heart.  The bursar and chef walks a path that was previously Doña Petrona, a practical and simple cuisine within easy reach of every pocket.  And with the new seasoning of fattening the national menu with delicacies from Latin America, just like its unbeatable peanut soup that shines in Bolivian and Peruvian cuisines. An Argentinean who continues to work as an assistant in the same Buenos Aires South Guard where she worked as a nurse, before winning the top prize of the  telefe contest,  “I try to contribute my bit to this pandemic, taking care of me and caring for patients”

 Journalist: Where does your love for cooking arise?  

Elba Rodríguez: Part of my mom, who is my great teacher of life. She from a little girl let me look at her and accompany her in the kitchen, nothing difficult, I love to eat! My first steps were with her, who taught me family recipes although, sometimes, there was not much to choose from. Maybe she managed and cooked rich.  My great teacher is Mom .

 Q: Did you imagine as a child that the kitchen would play such an important role for you?  

ER: Not at all. My mom taught me how to cook but also encouraged me to study a profession. She had a difficult childhood, ran out of the girl's mother, and when she had us taught us how to cook as a way to get strong among the brothers. I never imagined that pots and fires were going to be my future.

 Q: Marked with his triumph in the first edition of Masterchef, a successful program in 38 countries that has it enrolled in dorado, what left the experience in realities ?  

ER: It was a before and after. I will always be very grateful for the opportunity. The most beautiful thing was that after the contest they continued to support me from the channel, the producer and the same jurors. They took care of me before the media exposition I completely did not know.

 Q: One of your winning cards in the contest were regional dishes, the famous peanut soup for example, do you feel part of the current resurgence of traditional meals?  

ER: And... thanks to the success of the program I think something contributed and it makes me very happy. It's part of our story. We all know those flavors that come from the cradle. And I now  aim to value our tastes and flavors . In my recipes I promote meals with Bolivian roots, which are my origins, and also the gastronomies of Latin American communities.

 For me the dishes have to do with each other's stories and emotions.   For example, peanut soup, which revolutionized  Masterchef's jury,  and many viewers didn't know, leads me to my life. And it is part of what food is, which is more than a food, and that moves us to emotions, to feelings.  My dishes, now spread on networks, always have a very intimate part of me and that can be shared with similar experiences . I recently made a recipe book for the Day of the Dead in the networks, a traditional celebration on the continent, and they told me how they came together as a family to remember their ancestors. They talked about saint's bones, a sweet delicacy, and they brought me many memories of my childhood.

 Q: What do traditions mean?  

ER: It has to do with who we are, where we come from. I like to present the traditions linked to gastronomy, which are linked to customs, music and so many things of ours.  Traditions are part of my essence as a cook.   And that I wish to continue with my daughter Agustina, a supercompanion in the kitchen. With her on networks I usually select recipes that I did with my mom. I see her chubby carrying her children the gastronomic traditions of my village, my family (gets excited) Hopefully that happens in the future, for now I am proud that she gets happy in the kitchen, and gets dirty with dough.

 Q: Does the kitchen transform it to you?  

ER: (laughs) Boom, up! It puts me in a very good mood and I try to convey good vibes. I have no doubt that improves the taste of dishes. I also spread my knowledge with many tips, and plan B, in case the recipe does not turn out, we do not like, or we lack products at home.

 Q: What flavors identify Argentines?  

ER: It's complicated because we are very diverse and depends on every story. In my case, as I worked in health, I look for recipes with aromatic herbs that reduce the amount of salt. Also others that maximize times and quality with maximum flavor.

Maybe  smoky taste is something good for us.   I always say when I use my clay tableware for smoking, that they represent life. They are the scents of the kitchens I met as a child in the Conurbano.  Eating in a clay pan is to go back to the Latin American essence.  

 Q: What are the favorite flavors of Elba?  

ER: I like heavily seasoned foods, marinades, those that come out of wood. The union of seasonings and firewood makes the food amazing. If you have a touch of spicy, even more.

 Q: In these months of pandemic he decided to spread recipes with popular goods, for example showy polenta breads, encourage people to try new flavors... 

ER: We must have social sensitivity.  Many wrote that they had very few products in the cupboards, we lived a hard moment, and I wanted people to cook creatively, without losing joy . Even through my networks we exchanged recipes, now more focused on a light and seasonal meal. I'm already thinking by the end of the year to generate abundant, and delicious options according to each family's economy.

 Q: Did you never think about moving around when you were a magazine cover?  

ER: (silence)  It's all here, there is my neighborhood, my childhood . Now I have my own house, on family grounds, and I can't imagine somewhere else. We're very familiar. Being close allows us to take care of ourselves, to share... life is so uncertain that you never know when the hatchet is coming. We enjoy every moment... mate in the garden is a beautiful ritual. I learned as a girl to enjoy every moment. I may be leaving in the future, but today I belong here.

 Q: What does Elba recommend for Tradition Day?  

ER: Depends on temperature.  If it's not too hot we can eat a carbonada, a stew of lentils suavecito . Also dishes that participate the kids, see the children in the kitchen is very mobilizing, and among all to rethumb empanadas of all kinds. One can be osobuco, which is a very cheap cut and are super tasty — see recipe on video - We can also try tamales, which are very simple to make as a family. It is a very Argentinian experience I think to give off the shala and savor the meat with corn flour and squash.  

 Q: You talked about a very Argentinean experience, Elba, what would it be to be Argentinean?  

ER: Our essence, our roots. It has to do with the sense of belonging, in my case not to leave my neighborhood or my identity, which is linked by mom to gastronomy.  To be Argentine is to honor our land that gives us so much, nourishment of our table and soul.  

Regional recipes - Argentina


Networks of Elba Rodríguez and its recipes oriented to regional dishes:


Publication Date: 12/11/2020

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Empanadas de humita Pies of humita well patriotas
Gourmet When the osobuco becomes gourmet



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