Alsogaray loves Cuban cigars, which remind her of her big childhood home in the city's Belgrano district. Her father Miguel, a pilot, smoked them, and at the age of 15 she and her younger brother would steal and smoke some.
"Boy, we'd get dizzy!" she recalls. Her children have done the same, she adds. She has two sons and two daughters, and the girls inherited their mother's taste for cigars. One, Ana, runs a tobacco shop, and the other, Lucía, while a physician, did a masters course in Cuba on cigars and now runs classes and workshops at La Casa del Habano. She teaches people how to smoke a cigar.
While most of Blanca's customers are men, she says women are learning to smoke cigars 'well,' which means, she says, "Choosing an excellent cigar, not for the label but its taste, and taking into account the moment or the occasion. You start by smoking smooth cigars, not the expensive ones. Because if you don't like them you stop. But if it's expensive, you'll smoke it all. You go from the smoothest to the strongest ones."
Cigars, in fact, helped me give up cigarettes.
Some people start their day with a cigar, says Blanca, but she prefers to start smoking a little later. Some days she can smoke three, or she may go a week without smoking one. She claims they are not addictive like cigarettes, and says that "Cigars, in fact, helped me give up cigarettes."
When Blanca finished secondary school, there was nothing in particular she wanted to study. She began working, hopping from one job to another, then married and had four children. Then, she decided to try to earn a living from her passion for cigars. It was the 1980s. She and a partner spoke to people in the know from Cuba, and became distributors of habano cigars in Argentina.
People had more time; they were at home.
She did not close her shop during the COVID-19 pandemic, when sales and home deliveries increased. "Consumption increased at that moment. People had more time; they were at home," she says, adding that stress also contributed: "As my daughter, the doctor, says, today's illness is stress, and the habano reduces it."