Saturday, July 21, 2012

Día del Amigo

I’ve always been annoyed by what I consider “greeting card days,” mainly Father’s Day and Mother’s Day, in the United States. They’ve always seemed manufactured celebrations that should be utterly unnecessary for any thoughtful husband, wife or child, and I always tell my wife and daughter that I’d rather ignore them.
I feel slightly differently about the Día del Amigo, the “Friendship Day” that, to the best of my knowledge, is only observed in the Southern Cone countries of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay on July 20th (in neighboring Paraguay, it takes place on July 30th). While it’s not a public holiday in Argentina, there’s been sentiment toward moving it to July 19th, marking the death of Rosario cartoonist Roberto Fontaranarrosa, creator of the popular gaucho philosopher Inodoro (“Toilet”) Pereyra and his talking canine companion Mendieta.

Perhaps I feel differently because Día del Amigo is an optional thing unencumbered by traditional social convention – I’m rarely in Argentina at this time of the year, but if a friend in Buenos Aires contacts me for dinner or a drink on this date, I know it’s something genuine rather than just a formal obligation. It’s a big enough occasion that, according to the Buenos Aires daily Clarín, yesterday’s traffic nearly collapsed the cellular system with calls and text messages.

That’s how I felt yesterday, when I received an email from my friend Gabriel Famá (pictured above), the owner of Cadore (my personal choice as the city’s best ice creamery). Since my recent surgery, I’ve had plenty of get-well emails, but the one I got from Gabriel yesterday was particularly heart-warming, so to speak: “You know we value friendship highly here” and “I wish you all the best during your recovery.” In a politically and economically erratic country, that's something you can count on.

To my mind, that’s a real departure from greeting-card commercialism, and it perked up my spirits. The only downer is that, in the aftermath of my surgery, I will probably have to limit my consumption of Cadore’s exquisite chocolate amargo (bittersweet chocolate) and mousse de limón (lemon mousse), my two favorite flavors.

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