Germans in Cerro Castillo

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Cerro Castillo is a very small town. About 45 minutes outside of the park, it is no more than a crossroads where three ranching families have set up pens and other buildings required for their sheep and cattle business. There are two cafeterias with souvenirs for the tourists that stop by during the summer. As many as 150 tourists will stop by in a day en route to the park in the peak times of December and January. At this time of year, though, we haven't met one tourist in the town on any of our visits.

We return to Cerro Castillo every few days because of the really terrific (and affordable) food. By chance, I was invited to have the "house menu" one day, which is the meal that is served to the workers at one of the ranches. (The rancher owns the cafeteria and gift shop.) The midday meal includes a hearty soup and a main course. On our second visit, we were served rouladen (rolled up meat with carrot and bacon inside), which was just like the rouladen of my Aunt Marlies. All of the meals have been typical of Germany. The grandmother of the rancher's family, who has been doing much of the cooking, confirmed what I had learned in a history text: the original sheep herders came in the 1860s from Germany. She also remebered that as a young girl, she had a friend whose family still spoke German at home. For us, we're just happy that the recipes continue to be passed down through the generations, and we are looking forward to Friday's lunch of lamb.