La Casa Chorizo: Carlos Gardel’s Sausage House

Would you live in a sausage house? Carlos Gardel did. In fact, the most famous tango singer and actor from Buenos Aires bought his mother one in 1927. No, it isn’t a double-entendre for an after hours cabaret in a red light district. Nor is it a slaughterhouse, a sausage museum, or a day spa for butchers. A “casa chorizo” is an Argentine architectural term coined in the early twentieth century used to describe the design of a common middle class Porteño home.

A typical design of a casa chorizo, featuring a large living space

A typical design of a casa chorizo, featuring a large living space

In order to understand the metaphor better, imagine a line of sizzling chorizos (sausages) on a grill. This symmetrical alignment placed on the edge of the grill conserves space for the large portions of meat and vegetables. Now imagine that the home is like the grill and that the bedrooms are the chorizos. Each bedroom has a window and a door facing the patio.

This style of home became very common amongst the middle class as a way to conserve space during the peak of European immigration in the early 1900s. In many hostels and hotels, this design was very conducive for housing immigrants from different backgrounds looking for temporary dwellings. Interestingly, the most common type of plant found in the main patio of a typical casa chorizo is the zonal geranium.

The patio of a casa chorizo was often decorated with plants

The patio of a casa chorizo was often decorated with plants

Carlos Gardel’s casa chorizo was turned into a museum and opened to the public in March of 2003. He lived there with his mother, Berta Gardés, until 1933 when he moved to France. When Berta died in 1943, the house was left to the last Gardel representative Armando Defino. In the 1980s the house was used as a tango school until the walls started falling apart and caving in. Then in 1996 Eduardo Eurnekian bought the estate and donated it to the city of Buenos Aires.

Nowadays the house serves as a museum to the life of Carlos Gardel and is open to the public. There are even tango classes available Saturdays after 4 pm.  For more about the museum, see the information below.

Once a casa chorizo, Carlos Gardel's house now serves as a museum about his life

Once a casa chorizo, Carlos Gardel’s house now serves as a museum about his life

Address: Jean Jaurés 735

E-mail: museocasacarlosgardel@yahoo.com.ar

Hours: Mon, Wed, Thurs, and Fri from 11 am to 6 pm; Sat/Sun and Holidays from 10 am to 7 pm.

Entrance: $5 pesos, Wed. free

For more fun facts and interesting stories about Argentine culture, check out more of Say Hueque’s blog. Or to start planning your trip to Argentina to see these things for yourself, contact Say Hueque!

Written by Brian Athey

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