According to her harshest critics, Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner often acts as if she were royalty but, in about three months, her “subjects” will have their own legitimate queen, of a sort, to fawn over. At the end of April, Holland’s Queen Beatrix will abdicate her throne, paving the way for her son Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange, to become king. As it happens, Willem-Alexander’s wife is Argentine-born Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti, who will simultaneously become Queen Máxima.
Máxima (second from left in the above photograph, whose other figures may also be familiar), hails from Buenos Aires. In the decade-plus since her marriage to Willem-Alexander, she has become a popular figure in The Netherlands, and is fluent in Dutch and English as well as her native Spanish. Also the mother of three young daughters, she has become a vocal advocate for immigrants’ rights in her adopted country.
Initially, she was controversial because her father, Jorge Zorreguieta Stefanini, served as agriculture minister under military dictator Jorge Rafael Videla; though Jorge Zorreguieta was apparently not involved in Videla’s Dirty War atrocities, he was not permitted to attend the wedding. Máxima’s rather irregular acquisition of Dutch citizenship prior to the wedding also raised some eyebrows.
I have not met the queen-to-be, and never expect to do so, but I have dined at her brother’s place – in the lakeside resort of Villa LaAngostura (pictured above), Martín Zorreguieta’s Tinto Bistro has acquired a certain fame, or notoriety, obviously not just for a fusion menu based on seasonal Patagonian ingredients. Martín Zorreguieta also operates the Delfina Restaurant, at the eastern approach to town, and the Cientochenta Club Gastronómico de Montaña at the nearby Cerro Bayo ski area.
Meanwhile, those of you planning a trip to the other side of the Andes should know that the new fourth edition of Moon Handbooks Chile is due out next month. Until it’s out, though, you can content yourself with my recently published iPhone/iPad app Chile Travel Adventures, which makes an ideal complement to the print book. The app is also available in an Android version.