March 15, 2008
Buenos Aires, 1905–Tango is the underground music and movement of bordellos and seedy nightclubs. While members of Argentina's Criollo (Spanish-descended Whites) upper class dine out to the waltz and foxtrot tunes of an orchestra, tango's popularity is on the rise in the streets.
Tango composer and musician Angel Villoldo composes his best tango yet, telling his friend, pianist Jose Luis Roncallo, that he wants to play his new composition that very night for the ritzy clientele at the exclusive Restaurante Americano, where Roncallo and his orchestra play.
Roncallo balks at the idea–play a tango for the elite crowd there? Never. But Roncallo finds the tune so compelling that he decides to do his friend a favor. Roncallo and his orchestra decide to play the song anyway, disguising it as a 'danza Criolla'–a Creole dance.
As the saying goes, the rest is history–the song became wildly popular and a classic was born.
And the true name of the tune? El Choclo–-'the ear of corn'. Villoldo, who loved his song "…from the very first note…" also found the ear of corn to be the tastiest ingredient in the Argenitinean meat and vegetable stew called puchero. Argentineans love double entendre, and the expression 'earning the puchero' mean to earn a living. But by referring to the puchero, the composer implied that writing this tango was the 'tastiest' way to earn a living. Villoldo hoped the song would bring him success and help him earn a living, hence cleverly bestowing the odd name on the song.
'Choclo' is the indiginous Argentinean word for the corn on the cob. It's also the main ingredient in tarta de choclo, a sweet/savory corn filling wrapped in a flaky pie-like crust. It's a very simple dish, which would be great as a starter or a side, or a simple dinner with a salad, bread and a bottle of red wine.
I have developed my own recipe, and procedure, for making tarta 'El Choclo':
Open a bottle of wine. Put on a Tango CD and put volume up. While making the tarta, banish blues by dancing the tango in the kitchen-alone, with baby, or with husband (who may be unavailable due to long work hours, baby bath-time duties, or general aversion to dance steps). Drink wine in between tango steps and wait for the tarta to come out of the oven.
Tarta de Choclo
This filling can also be used as a filling in empanadas.
1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 eggs, hardboiled, peeled and chopped
5 ears of corn or 1 can of creamed sweet corn
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablsepoon cornstarch
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tarta shells-storebought, (Argentinean imported ones, like La Saltena or Blancaflor) or made-from scratch pie crust (Pillsbury Pie Crusts also work)
1 teaspoon sugar
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Heat the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat and saute the onions until translucent. If you are using corn on the cob, boil the cobs until tender, cool, and grate the kernels using the coarse side of a cheese grater. Add the corn, to the onion mixture. Add the milk and cornstarch, and stir until thickened. Add the sugar, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir in the cheese. Heat through until the cheese is melted. Remove form heat and let cool slightly.
Put 1 pie crust onto a round pan. Put corn mixture onto the center of the pie crust. Sprinkle with chopped egg pieces. Cover with second pie crust round and seal the edges by twisting the dough, or pressing with the tines of a fork so that none of the filling seeps out during baking.
Bake until crust is golden brown, about 35-40 minutes. Cut into wedges, and serve hot, cold, or at room temperature.