This article was translated by John R. Bopp
This is one of those “Basque stories” that always leaves us with our jaw dropped, and, like so many others, started at the end of a war. Like many Basques from north of the Pyrenees who had to emigrate to the Americas after the French Revolution, just three decades later, the Basques from south of the Pyrenees had to leave their country en masse after their defeat in the First Carlist War, which brought about the beginning of the dismantling of the Foral System.
Among those who left his homeland, suppressed and conquered, was our protagonist, Carlos Noel Echabe, who was born in Getaria in 1804.
We found the fascinating story of this Basque and his new life south of the Equator on the website of the La Capital del Mar del Plata newspaper, which almost completely copies the chapter “Cheese and quince jelly: the national dessert” from the book recently-published “Food in the History of Argentina” by Daniel Balmaceda.
The New World stage of Carlos Noel’s life started when he arrived at Montevideo in 1841. From there, his life would be a part of the sweetest memories of Buenos Aires and possibly half of Argentina. This is because on September 9, 1847, he opened his first candy factory, and the first candy-only shop not only in Buenos Aires but in all of Argentina. He did so under the name “The Sun Sweets Factory of Carlos Noel”, which, years later, his children would change to the family surname, Noel.
From its founding, the story of this company is one of success. They even reached such spectacular production numbers of 90,000lb / 40,000kg of quince jelly per day in their factory in 1910.
We recommend reading this article that is actually the story of a Basque in Argentina, but we can’t resist making a few comments.
First, it’s curious to us that the “Argentine national dessert” is cheese and quince jelly, as that is a very traditional and popular dessert in the Basque Country.
The second is to reference the story of one of this Basque’s grandchildren, who happens to have the same name. We’re referring to Carlos Noel, the diplomat and politician who made up part of the Radial Civic Union, an Argentine party that’s had a brilliant past with several leading figures in Argentina that we’ve mentioned, including President Hipólito Yrigoyen, and musician Atahualpa Yupanqui.
Carlos Noel, the grandson, was, among many other things, the Mayor of Buenos Aires, and during his term, his policies had a strong social focus on improving the city and its sanitary and urban conditions.
La Capital del Mar del Plata – 12/9/2016 – Argentina
Queso y dulce, el postre nacional
Esta es la historia de un vasco que decidió aventurarse en la ruta del Río de la Plata, cuando pocos elegían ese destino. Es verdad que el escenario no era el mejor. Montevideo y Buenos Aires se sacudían en la impiadosa guerra civil que enfrentaba a blancos y colorados o a unitarios y federales. Pero el viajero, Carlos Noel, tampoco venía del paraíso. Los vascos habían asumido la derrota en su intento independentista de España y muchos partieron en busca de otros horizontes.
Note: header photo: old Noel factory on the corner of Defensa and Cochabamba in Buenos Aires. Photo taken from the Filosofia de Sabor website, who in turn got it from Buenos Aires Antiguo.