Category Archives: english


Here we are!

Well, the first thing we’ve discovered during this trip is that trying to record and edit a video with an iPad takes the patience of a saint, as our mom would say. But we did it… maybe. Take a look and go easy on us!

Between the tiredness and the jet-lag, coming up with something coherent seemed like an impossible feat, but we’ve decided that we’re not sleeping until we’ve written a post

Let’s start with the flight: 16 hours, crammed in like sardines, good movies, a couple of mishaps with spilled wine – we really liked the idea of free wine, too bad it tasted like two-buck chuck and therefore remained mostly in the glasses on the tray in front of us… before it ended up on our jeans. Both glasses. Both pairs of jeans. We’re really siblings.

The arrival in Buenos Aires went smoothly enough, except for the three customs checks and a moment of panic when my backpack and our aunt’s trolley wouldn’t show up. But then they materialized, and off we went looking for a taxi. Said taxi took us to the supercool flat where we’ll be staying for three weeks, thanks to our aunt’s generosity. It’s smack in the city center, between Plaza de Mayo and Plaza de la República, and as Pablo – the friend who opened the door and showed us around – told us, every demonstration passes right by here. Apart from the location, it’s huge and it’s probably going to be as luxurious as it gets for us for the next year.

During the rest of our first day, we discovered that:

1. grocery shopping is not particularly cheap, unless you’re willing to eat nothing but meat

2. this trip is bound to go well. Five minutes into our first stroll out and about, we found ourselves in an hippy arts & crafts market, sitting around a group of musicians called Pachamanca. The members, hailing from all over Latin America, performed their songs for us, offered us beer and asked a lot of questions about where we were from. Needless to stay, we would have stayed there forever. But Fate had other plans, as a text informed us that the Argentinian cousins were waiting for us at home…

Over a cup of tea, a bit of food and a lot of cigarettes, Adriana, Liliana and Franco told us about the situation in Argentina and expressed their misgivings about Cristina, the ‘Presidenta’. According to them, she’s allowing citizens to shun their responsibilities through a policy of indiscriminate subsidies in exchange for votes. After that, we moved on to family memories and migration stories – all of it mixing Spanish and Italian, on both sides. Adriana promised that we’ll cook something together before we leave Buenos Aires.

***Translated by Beatrice Gechele***

munch APP

Help! I’ve got PTA

Suggested soundtrack to this post: 

PTA, i.e. pre-trip anxiety, is like that chick you meet once, and then – somehow – you just start seeing her everywhere, time and time again: at parties, downtown, even at your place. And while you’re asking yourself how it’s possible and who the heck invited her over, she acts like you’ve been friends forever. She keeps calling you, she’s unrelenting. You, on the other hand, hate her – you can’t stand her, her annoying voice, and what she talks about, but you don’t know how to get rid of her.

PTA is very similar. At first, it’s just a shy little fellow, nagging you about stuff you actually have to do. It’s almost comforting. It would be weird not to have it, we’re not superheroes. It can also be the driving force helping you cut ties with two of your oldest friends, Laziness and Procrastinations. But a few day later, you wake up and anxiety is everywhere. It has taken over your lungs and you can’t breathe, your mouth is dry, you’re experiencing pure terror and you have an overwhelming desire to crawl back into your mom’s womb. It’s not just about little things anymore: like a poisonous plant, it has grown over everything else. The attacks are becoming longer and more frequent, and you know they might come back anytime. PTA is that voice inside your head that, every time you relax, reminds you: ‘Just a few days until you leave! What are you doing?! You’re wasting time, YOU’RE WASTING TIME!!!’

Other ways in which PTA is known to manifest itself:
– HELP. Our international driving licences is never going to get here on time. Yes, the blonde lady said everything’s fine, but something will go awry. If they get here after we’ve left and they mail them to us, they’ll definitely get lost.

– HELP. The guy from the bank didn’t call back about the credit card. There must be something wrong. And because I’m writing a post about it instead of calling him, the credit card will never get here, we won’t be able to withdraw cash abroad and we’ll have to go back after a week. (Relevant to all bureaucratic matters.)

– HELP. We are so going to forget something. And it will be something important. But we’ll only find out when it’s too late.

– HELP. I will not be able to get everything done in time. Everything what? Dunno. But I won’t make it.

– HELP. They’ll forget about us.

– HELP. They won’t forget about us, but we will let them down.

– HELP. The car, the car insurance, the RV, driving in the megalopolis, driving in the countryside, getting lost, wading fords, we’ll never put together an adequate playlist, we’ll run out of gas in the middle on nowhere, the car will get stolen, we won’t be able to resell it.

– HELP. Living with my sibling. Marco doesn’t shower. Irene might have a nervous breakdown when she realizes she can’t use her hair straightener among the natives in the mountains. Irene might go all Nazi on Marco. Marco might hate Irene. Irene might end up surrounded by outlaws. Marco might befriend some drug traffickers, thinking they look like nice people.

– HELP. We’ll be kidnapped. We’ll be robbed. We’ll be arrested. And they’ll stuff our dead bodies with cocaine to cross the border.

– HELP. Southern American police.

– HELP. No hablo español. Sí un poco, per no de verdad.

– HELP. Não falo português. Even though it’s the most beautiful language in the world.

– HELP. (Irene’s existential anxiety) What if this the biggest mistake of my life? What if I can’t make it? What if I can’t keep the commitments we made? What if I’m not credible? What if I let myself down, and I let down everybody who believed in us? What if I can’t write? What if I can’t draw up questionnaires? What if I can’t do research? What if I can’t, period?

– HELP. A whole year without having my friends within reach.

– HELP. Wi-fi. Updating the blog. Twitter. Facebook. Translating.

I think our new friend PTA will be more and more present, that she’ll transform over time, but one day we’ll find a way to contain it, or at least coexist peacefully.

Today is not that day.

***Translated by Beatrice Gechele***

stack of pancakes on the plate

Why the recipes?

One of my favourite childhood memories is when, in the afternoon, us siblings would look at each other and utter the indecent proposal: shall we make crêpes? Maybe saturday afternoon crêpes are the secret to our harmony. Maybe they’re one of the reasons why the kitchen is my favourite place. I must have been 15 when we started doing that, Marco was 7, Emanuele 3. I remember the unconditional love and the light in their eyes when somebody pitched the idea, I remember looking for the ingredients, the mess we would make preparing the batter – which regularly ended up all over the walls –, the pure bliss of melting the dark chocolate with butter. And when we’d finally call mom and dad and eat together.

I also remember waiting for mom, who used to get home from work at 9 in the evening, cooking and chatting together. Marco was in charge of cutting the vegetables, and he’d ask for our approval on every single piece he cut.

Cooking just had to be a key element of this journey.

We are going to interview people in the kitchen, while we cook something together. So, along with the official interviews, look for the recipes in the dedicated section!

*** Translated by Beatrice Gechele***


The project

It’s a journey, meaning it’s a lot of things rolled up together. Research, first of all, inspired by an observation on which we’d like to investigate some more.

These are times of economic crisis, to which Europe doesn’t seem to have a solution. Meanwhile, in Latin America, indigenous people and farmers are joining forces against multinational corporations – and winning their battles; entire communities are going back to bartering or using alternative currencies; laws are being passed that allow workers to reoccupy and manage bankrupt factories themselves; former guerrilla presidents are criticizing communism and legalizing marijuana… it’s stuff from another planet! But maybe it could teach something to those of us who live in a continent where governments – choked off by the crisis and by budget constraints – still think that cutting social expenditure and privatizing common goods is the answer.

And while the crisis over here deepens, on the other side of the ocean they’re talking about buen vivir and making solidarity the fulcrum of the economic sphere, they’re experimenting and they may be laying the foundations for something different from the mainstream model, whose contradictions are becoming more and more apparent.

Capitalism hit Latin America particularly hard, making it imperative to look for alternatives – a search that fuelled both practical attempts and theoretical research. What’s more, the case of Latin American proves that – on a political level – this is not just a residual utopia, but it can be a winning vision. There may be a lot we can learn from that. It may be nice to open a dialogue, to find out if what’s working over there might work over here too, to identify its strengths and weaknesses.

We would like to bring together all the stories we will be told, in order to establish links and promote contamination. We will do it through a journey which will begin in March in Argentina and unfold through Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, all the way up to Mexico.

It will be a journey full of listening, curiosity, conviviality and sharing. We will come face to face with scholars of solidarity economy, experiences, movements. We will chat of possible worlds, and – to make things more interesting and more complicated – we will suggest doing so in front of the stove, cooking. And we will share the recipes with you.

There are going to be many challenges, starting with changing our lifestyle, getting on a car that will be our home for the next year and facing the roads of South America (or the lack thereof). Learning Spanish, for real. Leaving behind our jobs, our lives, our friends to discover what’s on the other side.
We don’t know what we will find, we don’t know if the answers are going to be general or personal, but there’s one thing we are sure about: we want to share them with whoever reads this blog.

***Translated by Beatrice Gechele***


Who we are?

Two siblings.

Irene, 29 years old, from Turin, graduated in International Relations in 2010 with a dissertation on the different theories of solidarity economics in Italy, Europe and Latin America. During university she discovers youth organizations thanks to Giosef, which is not a nickname but an organization involved with international mobility and human rights education. In 2008, with the so-called ‘Wave’ student movement, she takes the first steps on a political path that will lead to the foundation of the cultural an recreational association Officine Corsare. She has been living in Brussels since 2011, where she works for an European NGO focusing on services for the disabled.

She is quitting her job – and financial stability – in the Eurobubble to pick up the thread of her dissertation. And to go back home, with a little detour through Latin America. She pictures a year-long journey, on the hunt for examples of solidarity-based economy/solidarity economy/social economy and indigenous movements. She hopes to meet and interview the theorists she wrote about in her dissertation, in order to find out if there are ideas that could be replicated in Europe, a path to follow on our side of the Atlantic. She has decided to write about these stories in a blog, to ask the people she’ll meet to share recipes for a viable utopia – and cooking recipes, too.

She wants to ask her brother Marco to go with her.

She calls him.

She explains her idea.

And he says yes.

Marco is 21 years old and a dreamer. At age 6, he designed time machines. Ten years later, he founded Turin’s anarchic student union. He plays the bass and can be often found in northern Italy’s Susa Valley, fighting against the high-speed rail. He started dabbling in carpentry and restoration after graduating high school and now he lives in Verrua Savoia, a little town in the middle of Piedmont’s countryside. But on March 6th he’ll be on a plane with Irene, bound for Buenos Aires. At the airport they’ll be greeted by their second-grade cousins – daughters of one of grandpa’s brothers, who emigrated to Argentina – whom they have only seen on Facebook. They will be Irene and Marco’s first contact; they will welcome them and help them buy the van (or the car, we’ll see) that they’ll be driving on their adventure.

***Translated by Beatrice Gechele***