In Latin America and Spain, the 6th of January is celebrated as “Dia de los Reyes Magos” – the Day of the Three Wise Men.
In Argentina, and in Juan’s family, we put out one pair of shoes in the balcony with a little bit of grass the night before, in exchange for little gifts from the Three Wise Men.
More of a custom than anything religiously-related to the Bible, it is a day when everyone eagerly wakes up to see what the passing Wise Men have left us as presents. This is also the last day before the Christmas tree is taken down and dismantled, the mark of the ending of the Christmas celebrations.
Although most families stop the tradition when the kids have grown up, Juan’s parents still continue the custom, and we look forward to it, as another event and excuse to receive more presents.
In someway, traditions like this keep their childhood alive, a string of remembrance and memories, to a time when they were little and ignorant of the world and its worries.
Because this day reminds me of family love, home and childhood, I wanted to share a comforting recipe for a deliciously easy-to-make meal.
Juan’s mum made this the other day, and I fell in love with it at once – for its simple yet rich flavors.
The only difficult part is cutting and peeling the vegetables – the rest is done magically on its own in the pot..
And as the stew cooks over low heat, tempting flavors of beef and vegetables rise and tempt your nostrils, making you salivate as you await the hearty stew..
A homely dish meant for cold nights, with the entire family huddled around the kitchen table, being nourished by its warmth and hearty taste.
BEEF & VEGETABLE STEW (Serves 4)
1) 1.3 – 1.5 kg of cross-cut veal shanks, cut into 6 – 8 cm slices
2) 4 medium carrots, peeled
3) 4 medium potatoes, peeled
4) 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into medium slices (about 5-cm thick)
5) 3 onions, peeled cut into halves
6) 1 small cube of vegetable stock
7) 1.5 litres of water
1) Peel carrots, potatoes, onions and butternut sqaush
2) Cut onions into halves and butternut squash into slices
3) In a large pot, bring 1.5 litres of water to a boil
4) Once water is boiling, add all the vegetables
5) Add in cross-cut veal shanks
6) Lower heat and let ingredients simmer in the pot for 1 hour, stirring occassionally