Monday, August 23, 2010

I Like Food

This past weekend I went to my first tenedor libre in Buenos Aires, and let me just say, it was awesome! For those who don’t know, a tenedor libre (literally “free fork”) is a type of restaurant where you pay a set price and then order as much food as you want. It’s kind of like a buffet, except you get served by adorably cute old waiters instead of serving yourself.

The BF and I went to a place called Puerreydon out in Flores with another couple on Saturday night, and we had to wait outside for about 40 minutes. The place was packed and there was a waiting list to get seated, but eventually we got in and sat down. The menu was pretty extensive, with different sections for appetizers, parrilla, pastas, sides, etc. To start with our impressively mustached waiter brought us four different appetizers to try, including marinated tongue and this dish called vitel thone, which is basically thinly sliced meat in a tuna/mayo/cream sauce. It sounds kind of weird, but it was absolutely delicious.

Then we all ordered our first dish, which in my case was an amazing chicken breast in a white sauce with chives. The BF ordered bondiola and papas fritas, which were perfectly crispy the way I like them. At this point I was full but there was no way I was stopping at one dish. For a second dish I ordered ravioles in 4 cheese sauce, which is pretty much my ideal pasta dish. Again, delicious. The portions aren’t super huge like in a normal restaurant, so it’s definitely possible to eat two or maybe even three dishes (I’m not just a huge fatty, everyone was doing it!) As a side note, you also get unlimited water and soda with your meal, which is awesome considering most other places charge 7 or 8 pesos for a bottle of water.

For dessert I got a cup of ice cream with the works (chocolate sauce, whipped cream, fresh fruit) and the BF got a dulce de leche filled crepe and we shared…the perfect ending to an interesting and delicious weekend meal! And it only cost 61 pesos. I’m definitely going to have to investigate this tenedor libre scene more thoroughly!

Sunday was also a great day. It was beautiful weather outside, so the BF and I walked to Plaza Francia to look at the Recoleta Fair, which he had never been to. We strolled through all the stalls and looked at the stuff, I discovered that I have a severe addiction to rings, earrings, and silver in general, and then we went and sat in the sun in the park across from the Bellas Artes museum. After a bit we decided we were hungry so we went back to the fair and got a stuffed bread, a dozen churros (half chocolate, half plain, all filled with DDL), and a cup of fresh squeezed orange juice. Honestly, I don’t know how we aren’t the size of buses, considering the amount of crap food we eat on a regular basis.

In the States I ate super healthy and was always conscious of what I was putting in my body. Unlike the lovely comment left by some disgruntled reader on a previous post who deemed me a “typical American brat” who lives on fast food, I almost never ate fast food in the States and wouldn’t have touched a Whopper with a ten foot pole.

Here it seems like all I eat is potatoes, pizza, pasta, and pastry. And meat. And of course the occasional Whopper with onion rings. And yet somehow I weigh less here than I ever did in the States. It’s interesting. I shall have to do further research. Anyway, I can’t wait until the warmer season starts so I can start eating all the delicious fresh fruit that my local fruit and veggie place sells. Strawberries in particular, mmmmm. Fatty signing off!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Broken Rib in BA

So, I was sick last week with the gripe/flu/cold/whatever you want to call it that's been going around lately...and we're talking the works: aching head, sore throat, runny nose, and a horribly racking cough. To make a long story short, said racking cough was so severe that I'm pretty sure I cracked a rib.

After extensive research on the internet (WebMD, you're a lifesaver) I discovered that it is quite possible to crack a rib if you have a severe enough cough, and according to the symptoms, that's what I have. I can't say for certain because my visit to the hospital was a bit shorter than planned. Story time. My traveler's insurance ran out last month and I have yet to get a plan down here, so on Tuesday I went to one of BA's public hospitals hoping to see someone who could tell me what the deal was with the stabbing pain in my side.

Needless to say, the visit did not go as hoped for, but almost exactly as anticipated after a year of living under Argentine governance. We got there and waited in a line to go up to a counter and present my problem, just as people in front of me were doing. The woman behind the glass window was apparently some kind of gate keeper who got to decide who got to see a doctor and how soon. Anyway, I gave her my information and what I thought was wrong with me, and she (quite rudely) said that I had to wait around the corner and that there was "muchisima demora." Translation: at least 3 hours wait, if not longer.

So...basically I said fuck it, for several reasons. First of all, hospitals creep me out. I feel like I'm coming down with ten diseases as soon as I get within 10 feet of one. Secondly, the woman pissed me off which made me not want to wait. Third, there isn't really anything you can do for a cracked rib, except take pain medication like aspirin so that it doesn't hurt too badly when you breathe or cough. Fourth, knowing this I didn't really want to pay someone, without insurance, to tell me something that I already knew. So after about five minutes we left and went to McDonald's for dinner. One Big Mac, fries (complete with 2 packets of ketchup, of course), and an ice cream sundae later I was satisfied. In pain, but satisfied.

It still hurts when I cough and when I take a deep breath, which is really hard to do sometimes. I feel like I can't expand my chest as much as before, and it hurts really bad if I try. It also hurts if I press on it, so I try not to do that too much. Also I can't really move quickly or do any heavy lifting, or play soccer since there's the potential for actually breaking a rib. If it's just cracked like I think it is it should take about 6 weeks to heal. I don't want it to actually break, because that's when you get things like punctured lungs and other inner organs. Ouch.

Anyway, that's my update/rant for the week. Oh, I also have to switch internet companies at some point because the goverment decided that my provider isn't actually legally allowed to be a provider or some crap like that. Joy.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Burger King, Ketchup Nazis

I think it’s finally getting warmer! Today is really mild, which is glorious because the past week was really chilly, and I hope it stays like this! When I first got here last August I remember being really cold, probably because I was coming from a really hot American summer and was also in denial while packing (it’s Latin America, it’s never cold!) and subsequently did not pack enough socks. Or a coat. Amateur. Anyway, I’m praying it starts getting warmer now so I can go back to all the fun summer time things I used to do: drinking beers in the park after soccer with friends, sitting on my chair on the balcony reading a book, lounging in the grass in the park on the weekends with the BF, stuffing our faces with facturas and drinking mate. Ah the good life.

It seems I only ever write on Mondays after the weekend, which is when I tend to actually do things. During the week I’m at my internship, which I really enjoy. Then there’s Tuesday date night, soccer on Wednesdays, and I’m also starting a part-time gig which will take up my Monday and Thursday nights. Add finding time to pay the bills, go grocery shopping, clean the apartment, bake muffins (a necessity, obviously) and you’ll see that the weekends are where it’s at.

This past weekend was relatively tranquilo. I played soccer on Saturday, which is still fun and a great workout. It’s turning into a bit of a mess though because so many people want to play now that the list fills up in five minutes, with little cliques forming between people who always sign each other up. In an effort to control the madness, the capit├ín that is my novio has declared that everyone must sign themselves up, so no one can put five people on the list as was happening before. Anyway, after the game we went back to my place to shower and change and then headed out to the Abasto mall with some friends to eat Burger King and see Inception again (it’s that good!) We finished the evening in classic Argentine style with some ice cream from Munchi’s, then went home and crashed.

Time for a tangent about fast food restaurants in Buenos Aires! In the States, fast food is cheap in relation to other kinds of food. But here, going out to eat at Burger King is kind of a big deal, at least for me. A combo with a burger, fries (or onion rings in my case, yummmm), and a drink costs about 30 pesos. This might not seem like a lot, but in relation to what people earn here, it’s definitely not cheap.

Also, what is the deal with the militaristic rationing of the ketchup packets?! Every time we go to Burger King or McDonald’s, they only ever give us two measly packets of ketchup. One each. Which, if you know me, is pure insanity. I am a true American, obsessed with condiments of all kinds, and ketchup is king. In the States, you can actually pump your own ketchup into little paper cups and enjoy as much of the stuff as you like! Land of the free and all that. But here, two packets is what you’re given and if you don’t like it, tough. Every time I’ve gone back to ask for more, which is once, I was given a dirty look and then handed 2 more packets. GAH. How am I supposed to eat a Whopper and a whole thing of onion rings with TWO packets of ketchup. THEY’VE ALL GONE MAD! I know Argentines don’t really use a lot of ketchup, but it’s not like they don’t have buckets of the little packets behind the counter…I’ve seen them! Just hand them over for the gringos who DO use the stuff. Anyway, I’ve decided that the next time we go to the BK Lounge, I am bringing my own bottle of ketchup disguised as a mate or alfajor. Have it your way, my ass.

Aaaanywho, Sunday was a lazy day at home with the BF, although we did animate ourselves enough to make a massive and delicious lentil stew (guiso de lentejas) with chorizo, beef, salchicha parrillera, and pancetta. It took a while and was somewhat of a process, but it turned out really well. Accompanied by garlic bread, it was a perfect winter dinner. We also watched a movie with Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigel (however you spell that) and Tom Selleck (yum). We then moved on to Shutter Island with Leo Dicaprio which, by the way, is a very creepy movie involving crazy people, mind games, disturbing flashbacks, and little girl ghosts. I did not sleep well.

Until next weekend, unless Burger King pisses me off again before then.

Monday, August 2, 2010

One Year BA Anniversary!

It’s been exactly one year since I moved to Buenos Aires, and I have to say that I’ve never been happier. Sometimes it seems like I just arrived and I can hardly believe a year has gone by. I can still remember all the different things I had to struggle with when I first got here. There were the big things: finding an apartment to live in, finding employment, making friends, improving my Spanish. And then there were the little things: learning how to re-load my cell phone credit, buying fruit from the stands on the street, navigating the streets of BA without getting lost, stepping in dog crap, falling in a hole, getting run over by a bus, etc. But I learned. Slowly but surely I found my way.

First I had the amazing good luck to find my apartment…cheap, spacious, in a great area, and owned by a super generous and kind family. I had a series of jobs that taught me a lot about various things, specifically about myself and the kind of person I am and want to be. I made friends and acquaintances of all kinds that helped me in their own ways through the various stages of this past year. I met my boyfriend, who has made the last 6 months even better than I thought they could be. And last week I got a part time internship with a travel boutique, which will give me some great experience in the tourist industry and which allows me to get out of the house and meet more people.

There have obviously been some difficult and challenging times during the last year, but that can happen to anyone, anywhere. It’s just life. When it comes down to it, my BA life is pretty good.

Of course, I’ve had to adapt to living here in a huge city, in a second or third-world country, on the other side of the world from my family and everything I grew up with. As well as getting accustomed to things like eating late and only speaking Spanish, I have a list of things that I’ve learned to live without here in Buenos Aires, including air conditioning, a car, a clothes dryer, and a TV (until recently).

But I am proud to announce that in honor of my 1 year BA anniversary, I have taken one item off of my Without list, and I am SUPER pumped about it. Please meet the newest addition to my household:


It’s really old, probably about 15 or 20 years, but it works perfectly! Acquired from a really nice guy who is relocating to Brussels for work for the grand total of 250 pesos, this machine is going to make my life so much easier. I like to cook, and when I do I tend to make large batches of things like pasta or mashed potatoes or soup. When it comes time to eat the leftovers, well…let me just say that reheating cold pasta on the stovetop is a challenge. No more! My new microwave will change all that. We had a little photo shoot today, Micro and I…doesn’t he look fabulous?

Work it baby.
Isn't it GLORIOUS!

Anyway, the acquisition of this high-tech piece of equipment was the highlight of my weekend, clearly. I also went to see Inception (El Origen in Castellano) with the BF, and I have to say it was one of the best movies I’ve seen in my life. I mean, I know everyone is saying that, but really, it was good. Jump on the bandwagon and go see it if you haven’t…it’s worth it. Also go see Despicable Me (Mi Villano Favorito) with Steve Carrell. We watched it online (gasp) and it was hilarious. Movies are perfect for cold days like we’ve been having, and recently there has been a slew of good ones to choose from. And yes, I just said “slew.”

Off to heat something up in my new microwave! Joy!