31 July 2008

Lunch at Granix

Today, Erika and I had lunch at Granix with our friend, Still Life in Buenos Aires. Hanging out with her for the first time was definitely the highlight of the day and I thought she was really interesting, charming, soft-spoken, sweet and smart, multilayered. Probably too mature for my smartass-mouth at times, but definitely a persona grata. We both liked her very much.

As for Granix, it was surprising to see so many people eating vegetarian food: business men, teenagers, families, Asian tourists, all of them, swarming the huge restaurant like it was Burger King on free milkshake day. I know some Argentines might protest: we don't even like Burger King! My response: everytime I walk past your BK, it's absolutely packed, which honestly saddens (okay, horrifies) me in more ways than I care to tell. But I digress. As for the food at Granix, the surperlatively anti-Burger King if ever there was one, well I thought it was pretty damn good: I ate seasoned sliced seitan, a small helping of papas au gratin, a cake that looked like carrot cake but wasn't, croquettes, soufflé, a little salad, some brown rice and vegetarian paella and custard that was almost créme brûlée but without burned creamed part. My only complaint is that $ARS 30 is kinda steep. I've gone to buffets in Portland and even Chicago for ten bucks. I know, location, location, location. Erika and I vowed to take Mandy to Los Sabios or Bodhi sometime in the next month, to show her what real gluttony is all about. Even so, I'm glad we went, both for the food and for her company.

In other news, yes I did get the job I interviewed for last week. I guess the suit was a hit. The only bummer is that I'll have to teach twice a week at 8:30 in the morning, which is like getting hit in the ass with a paintball. As you can imagine, I'm hoping to get that changed eventually. But at least I'll get Fridays off and half of Thursday, sounds like the perfect schedule for an expat writer in Buenos Aires, and I'll even get paid $25 pesos an hour, which is decent I think. I feel very fortunate indeed.

28 July 2008

Buenos Aires Subte

Buenos Aires Graffiti

Puerto Madero, Congreso + Palermo

These past two days have been an elegant fusion of the wonderful, the random and the typical. Too abstract for your tastes? I don't blame you. But it's true. Here, let me give you an example:

One thing I love about Buenos Aires is that even if you went to bed at 4 in the morning the night before for no discernible reason (no partying or drug abuse, no hitting the afterhours clubs), you can totally redeem your day by getting dressed, walking to Avenida Santa Fe, and having a nice cortado. Because we're not big espresso drinkers, this means té commún and cookies. But fuck, I'll take it. I think this tradition is brilliant, sort of like High Tea in South America.
If it looks like Erika is in a daze, that's because she is. But we had time to kill. The truth is, it took me a half an hour for us to get the check after I asked for it. But that's fine. Like I care? Any culture that slows everything down I will embrace and love for eternity.
It might not look like much, but it's the tradition that's really won me over. Erika would agree too if she weren't in such a daze.
After our cortado, and a quick run to Coto where our list of three things quickly morphed into a list of thirty, we returned to our apartment and then I made one of my favorite pizzas, which included:
rosemary olives
sautéed mushrooms, onions and garlic
yellow peppers
lots of olive oil
sautéed vegan salchicha
A bunch of random plastic toys I found on the street corner while we were walking Zoe around the neighborhood. One question: is that a red propeller?
This is a picture I took last night on Avenida Corrientes as we walked all the way from Congreso to Palermo. Now, why the hell did we walk 3 miles at 11 o'clock at night, when prostitutes were starting to come out of the woodwork? One word: PARO (pá•ro) 1. The Spanish word for strike. 2. A collective, class-based protest organized around a central theme, cause, or idea, or united against a common purpose (e.g. privatization, the Helvetica font, Hillary Clinton's hairstyle). 3. Synonym for HUGE PAIN IN MY FUCKING ASS. There was a night strike involving all the colectivos and also the subte, so we had no choice except walk or dish out plata to a tachero. We decided to walk. And I ended up buying a collection of Borges stories in Castellano. Score!
Words cannot adequately explain how much I loved this.
This sums up so much about Porteña culture. Where to begin?
1. We've got sos
2. And voseo
3. The model looks tana, or gringa
4. And the translation says it all: You're prettier when you forget the wrinkles. I guess all the plastic surgeons here agree.
Now you know Argentines love their meat when there's a museum of Ham. Okay, actually it's a restaurant. But you get the point. Word on the street is that there are Picasso replicas etched in dried piece of pancetta.
Some graffiti we saw in Congreso after our delicious vegetarian meal at Bodhi
I love the subte, especially when it's running.
Kinda trippy. But I think Erika took this picture when she was still in a daze from sipping té commún for our cortado. Even though that happened today.
Walking around Puerto Madero
A walk through the reserva
For a second I thought: where the fuck am I? But then I saw the Argentine flag and everything was okay.
Fading door
When I asked Damian (Inez's boyfriend) what this was, he said it was a fregado. A pain in the ass, something annoying. When I asked him why it was here, he said it was for tourists. And then it all made sense.
On the boardwalk of Puerto Madero
La puente de la mujer, otherwise known as the great Dorsal Fin
Supposedly the most expensive real estate in all of Buenos Aires (the privilege of water, I guess), I have to say that Puerto Madero sort of scared me. It had something to do with the stagnant feeling you get around a bunch of new buildings that have no history or bloodshed or heartbreak. It also had something to do with the fact that nearby there was a goddamn Hooters, a TGIF and a McDonald's, which is enough to make me run away screaming. Ditto with the frenchies I saw there.