Tuesday, April 28, 2009

5 Amazing Meals in BA...







Perhaps the best part of having guests is of course the eating part--to explore the culinary corners of your destination, to look forward to each meal with great glee...I have to say, these past 6 weeks, as Nick and I have been spoiled by family visiting, my palate has been delightfully happy...Let me share with you some of the best meals I have bitten into.

Meal: Tofu a la mostaza
Restaurant: Bio
Description: Bio is the little organic haven snuggled right off of Guatemala in Palermo Viejo. If Anthropologie was reincarnated as a restaurant, it would come back as Bio. It is a small eatery with antiquey wooden tables and wooden benches, with natural light a-plenty comin' through the many windows (that are all framed with the most adorable sheer,sea-foam green curtains). The shelves are lined with home-made organic breads and jams, and the spicy cooking wafts through the kitchen's paneless window. The ambience is peaceful bliss, and the cuisine is A-MAZING. My favorite dish was the tofu a la mostaza--tofu grilled to perfection in a mustard sauce and served over basmatti rice and marinated and grilled red peppers, carrots, and mushrooms. Bon appetit! Also mouth-watering was the ginger ice cream, ever-so-slightly spicy; the whole-wheat veggie empanadas; and the Thai mushrooms soaked in coconut milk and spiced with chilies. Really, you just can't go wrong at Bio.

Meal: Braised pork over sweet potatoes
Restaurant: Bobo
Description: "Bobo" is the semi-acronym for "Bourgeouis Bohemian" (which is also the title of David Brook's hilarious social commentary book!), and one could say it's a bit elitist...But the flavors are so good that you should allow yourself to be elitist for this meal! Nestled in the heart of Palermo Hollywood, it is classier than class, with perfect flower arrangements sparsley decorating the corners (less is more here) and simple candle light illuminating each table. And let me tell you, the food here was worthy of any elite, the world over! My dish was so mouth-wateringly scrumptious that I am still lusting after it more than 3 weeks later...The pork was done perfectly, crispy and crusted with herbs on the outside, and tender and soft in the inside. The sweet potatoes were whipped to perfection and baked so that the outside had the slightest crunch. Oh, how magnifique!!

Meal: Plum & Mozzerella Empanadas
Restaurant: La Fachada
Description: I've always been a sucker for the lounging moments of vacation, which is perhaps why I enjoyed La Fachada's empanadas so much, as they were eaten as take-out while watching Evita on Caitlin's laptop. The cozy factor was out-the-roof! (It doesn't hurt that Evita is one of my all-time favorite movies, either.) But even those the setting might have biased my decision, these empanadas are some of the best I have had! They are very unique in that many of them are open-faced, like miniature empanada pot-pies, oozing with cheese and empie goodness. My personal favorite of these pot-pie style empanadas was the plum and mozzerella. I know it sounds strange, and at first I was a bit leary, until I took a bite...The plum tasted more like a softly sweet jam, spread in-between layers of warm, melted mozzerella, all resting inside flaky pastry dough. There was the slightest sprinkling of pancetta lacing the top, giving the whole thing a smoked and unforgettable taste. Each bit was more amazing than the last, I swear...

Meal: Italian Veggie Salad Wrap
Restaurant: Pura Vida
Description: Pura Vida is a health-nut's Paradise located in Recoleta. It is a cubby of a restaurant, with a smoothie bar and bar stools for diners who wish to eat in-house, and constantly moving delivery men on motor-bikes for diners who wish to take-out. Its white-washed walls are decorated with giant photographs of fruit that looks like it was plucked straight from the Garden of Eden. Its blenders are always chugging away, concoting wheat-grass shots and fresh fruit smoothies. But their salad wraps are where it's at. Caitlin and I split two--a smoked salmon wrap and an Italian veggie wrap. Both were great, but the Italian choice was particularly enjoyable (isn't that always the case?). The delicious and nutritious tortilla encapsulated fresh greens, marinated peppers and eggplant, and crispy tofu, done perfectly. The honey-mustard and avocado-celery sauces that accompany the wrap gave it the loveliest finishing touch. Mmm, to bite into that wrap right now would complete my morning...

Meal: Portobella mushroom sandwich
Restaurant: Natural Deli
Description: Natural Deli sits peacefully and unassumingly right off of Luis Maria Campos in Las Canitas, just a block away from the magnificent and mysterious San Benito Cathedral. With a yoga studio above the cafe and the a cafe shop stocked with fair trade and natural coffees, sweets, chocolates, wines, and spices, you feel very om-like from the moment you set foot in the door. In fact, we ate outside, and felt the om-like vibes wafting even outside the restaurant! I swear! And was the food ever om-like in-and-of-itself...I ordered a roasted portobella mushroom sandwhich, that came perfectly marinated, perfectly grilled, topped with lovely parmesan cheese, and squished between the most amazing slices of whole-grain bread. Accompanying the sandwich came some house rolls, again filled with natural organic wheat goodness, and topped with olive oil bathed in a whole clove of garlic. For a garlic lover like me, this was Heaven! (Poor Nick!) I cut right into that stinky clove and spread its soft, delicious meat all over my olive-oil soaked (once-upon-a-time-healthy) whole wheat roll. And I washed it all down with a cup of delicious organic red wine. The meal really couldn't be beat.

Food. My raison d'etre.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Material Possessions & The Open Road

When your material life can be packed into two rolling suitcases and a backpack, your possessions acquire a different kind of meaning. For the first time in my life I am aware of every single item of clothing I own, and the stories behind each of them--the sundress with red flowers handed down from my mom's college closet; the flowered skirt Maira sent down with Caitlin; the wool poncho Elsa brought back from Bolivia; the dress Mrs. Cunningham surprised me with...Each item of clothing seems to hold its own story, and take on new memories as it gets carried from one Buenos Aires barrio to the next, and now from one South American city to the next.

I have a tendency to be an over-sentimental pack-rat as it is, so this new lack of space for acquiring material objects is GOOD in that I simply CAN'T gather much, but BAD in that I attach too much meaning to each little object. Take for example, Nick's jeans (uh-oh, now I am venturing over to attaching sentimentality to all of Nick's belongings, too...). He has been switching off between two pairs of jeans here, and needless to say, they are becomin' a little worn down. The other day, push-came-to-shove when Nick was putting on his jeans, and he...put his foot right THROUGH the knee...because the material was too thin. Yep...

So, alas, we decided to whip out the credit card and spring for a new pair of denim leg-warmers (so-to-speak), quite excitedly, I might add--an excuse to go shopping! But, we couldn't bare to throw out the old jeans. So, instead, I (lovingly) sewed a patch over the gaping hole and called it a day. Nick has been wearing them every other day, still, as if no hole ever occurred. Maybe we are both growing too sentimental...

I think part of this growing sentimentality has to do with the fact that we (lovingly) hand-wash our clothes...in the bathtub. (Hey, it saves 15 pesos a week!) Each week, as I (lovingly) scrub my tender belongings, I realize how much these clothes go through--getting dirty, then wet, then clean, then dry, then back to dirty again...They go through so much for me! And through these washing/bonding/reflective sessions, I come to appreciate all of my things. I think about where they came from, and I daydream about where they will go. Dear Lord, I have come to personify my damn garments, haven't I??

As silly as it may seem, I can't deny it. Maybe I am taking it all a little too far...Maybe perhaps I should stop sewing the remaining fabric from a massively-ripped skirt into a purse...(But, come on, that skirt was bought by Lauren C in Israel when she was studying abroad and having God-knows-what life-altering adventures...And then it was passed to her sister Ally, who passed it to my sister Colleen, who passed it onto me! How can I throw out all of those memories?? No, I can't. I am quite confident now after that stream-of-consciousness that the skirt must become a purse, after all. Okay, I have resolved to keep on stitching!) Oh my goodness, I can see myself in ten years, going to interviews, with colorful peace-sign patterned patches on the elbows of my suit jackets...Perhaps I will become the cat-lady my family so feared I would...

But, nonetheless, cat-lady or not, I love each one of my (& Nick's!) possessions dearly...Strangely, they have become quite unexpected little companions on the road, reminding us of the people and situations back home that gave us such treasures. Like, the red blazer with very large heart-shaped buttons that I am wearing right now (along with the amazing Billabong sweatpants left-over from 8th grade) that my mom gave me for my birthday last year...The so-called "Gidget Jacket"...Oh, I love it so...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Stumbling Through Cathedrals

These past 5 weeks have been sort of a personal quest for Nick and me, as we want to show off Buenos Aires's treasures one-by-one to Caitlin. It makes us exciting, and is a visual and physical re-cap to our past eight months here. Revisiting the city's cemeteries, museums (okay, 1 cemetery, and 2 museums...), parks, cafes, monuments, (bars), plazas, buddy bears (yes, buddy bears--Buenos Aires's famous world peace tribute!), and, well, you get the point. We've tried to take Caitlin on a "Best of BA" treasure hunt.

And it has honestly been a blast...To re-discover the sites we first uncovered with newbie eyes way back in August...And to discover for the first time sites we never took the time to see before...It's a pretty fun circle we're making here.

BUT, today we were reminded of the unexpected wonders of unplanned goodies. Today's spontaneous discovery: the Cathedral San Benito in Las Canitas. Peaceful bliss, mysterious architecture, rising up above palm trees and hidden from the road's view by a large cement wall. How we discovered it? Well, here's the story.

***

Caitlin (for those who don't know, Little Miss Green Thang) was surfing the web for biodegradable plastic bags in BA, which led her to the Natural Deli, an organic (and heavenly) cafe in Las Canitas. She mosied on over there last week to buy some organic mate and wine, and to pick up some bio bags as well. She did what she needed to do and went on her way, but not without checking out the menu...Which is what made her come home and insist that we return together to have a meal. So that we did, and boy was it deee-vine. A glass of organic red wine to accompany my roasted red pepper and portobella mushroom sandwich...(Oh man, I'm salivating right now in rememberance, I better move on!) Well, let's just leave it at that (if you are reading this and you live in BA, go there...now.)

Moving on, after we left the cafe with stomachs full of organic goodness and arms full with more organic goodness (wine, bread, brownies, and trail mix), we headed back towards the subte along Luis Maria Campos...Which is where we saw a strange and beautiful building looming above towering palms--a light red brick dome atop a building made of old-old-old brick, long-ago washed of any color. It was so curious, we had to sneak a look.

We crossed the street and walked along the building's cement wall until we reached a break in the stone that gave way to a stair-well and a path into a...cathedral! A beautiful (BEAUTIFUL), ancient, camouflaged castle of a cathedral! Talk about a treasure!

The walkway's walls had the church's name, San Benito, carved into its stone. We had entered the Sanctuary of San Benito. Ivy covered the church walls that were guarded from view int he road by the fortress-like cement wall. Inside, the cathedral walls towered high above us, woven with beams and windows. The alter was vast, simple and lovely. A deacon stood by, waiting to light your Easter candle with a prayer if you so wanted (and I just so happened to be needing to light a candle for a very special about-to-be-wed duo, so I was in luck!).

Nick, Caitlin, and I wandered around the cathedral's pews, and secret chambers that seemed un-ending. We watched the hundreds of prayer candles flicker when a wind whistled past, and we watched as dozens of worshippers kissed the foot of San Benito's statue, his toes golden, worn of all the copper that covered the rest of his body, washed from all the loving and hopeful touches he has received. Flowers laid all around him. Candles, too. It was all so beautiful.

In the words of John Lennon, "Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans."

In the words of Hira, *sigh*

Monday, April 20, 2009

La Hoja de Rosario

Sometimes when I travel, I am confused and over-whelmed when deciding how to translate the place--the experience--into words. When everything around you is new, and you want to convey all of that newness verbally, you will lose the meaning, the feeling, the heart of a place. As Nicole Krauss wrote in A History of Love, "to capture the whole tree, you should focus on drawing only one leaf" (actually the real quote is something much more poetic, but the gist is something to that effect). But, how does one choose the leaf??

This weekend we traveled to Rosario, Argentina's 3rd largest city, 4 hours northwest of Buenos Aires. And here is where I struggle with the leaf metaphor--what can I say about Rosario, or rather, what part of it can I describe that touches on the feeling of the whole? That it is the birthplace of Che Gueverra, as well as Lionel Messi? That it is not the capital of its province--Santa Fe--despite it being the province's biggest city? That it is the "birthplace" of the Argentine flag? Yes, I could say all of these things and expand on them to create a picture of Rosario. But I think that picture would be empty of heart, because truthfully, that is a textbook version of Rosario. As interesting as it may be, it does not connect with people, and that connection is the very heart we are after, the heart of the journey.


So, what is the heart of Rosario to me? I suppose part of it is the river beach where we laid in rolled-up jeans and got tan lines that perfectly outlined our t-shirt sleeves. And part of it is the crazy, unexpected, and over-bearingly patriotic flag monument that rises up out of nowhere and glows blue and white at night, kept aglow by the eternal flame honoring the flag's creator, Manuel Belgrano. And part of it would have to be the beautiful Sunday evening Mass we stumbled upon in the dark, the folksy guitar sounds strumming forth from its choir, parishioners taking Communion, the doors flung open in welcome, and the young couple catching the last moments of service from outside the side door, their antsy toddler at their feet, unable to sit still in a pew.





Part of Rosario to me is also the cab driver who laughed and shouted "City of Al Capone!" when Nick told him I was from Chicago. (Okay, I'm not really from Chicago, but who is going to know Milwaukee?!) And part of the city is the couple on the moped flying down the street with a dog cuddled between their velocity-filled bodies. Part of it has to be, too, the slightly-creepy but character-filled Hotel La Paz and part of it is still the pigeon-filled plaza that our hotel room over-looked. Part of it is the flaky empanadas that are sold a dime-a-dozen, and part of it is the sophisticatedly-scrumptious Don Ferro, where we feasted on pork in mustard sauce, steak in peppercorn sauce, and chicken in mushroom sauce.

But to me, the biggest part of Rosario is the Pena la Amistad, and here is where the story begins...

***

On Saturday night after arriving, we went to a small cafe/bar on the main Rosario strip, Pellegrini, to drink some Quilmes and catch the last moments of the soccer game (Rosario versus Jujuy). An entertainment show in-and-of-itself, the cafe was silent until a play was made, after which the patrons either jumped up in a chorus of hurray's, or slammed the table in a chorus of boo's. Every cafe on the street was the same as our's, with all the chairs pointed towards the television, with grandfathers, teenage girls, young boys, middle-aged dads, and old senoras all equally entranced by the match. People who left the cafe for a smoke break would hover by the window and watch the TV while nervously puffing down their cigarette, smoking it as fast as they possibly could.

After much anxiety, the game ended in a tie, and we watched with awe as every patron jumped to their feet and filed out of the cafe, joining the massive hordes of football fanatics out on Pellegrini, all spilling out of their respective cafes, free to pursue the rest of their lives now that the soccer game was over. It was a serious lesson in Argentine culture.

Amazed, and with hearts still pounding from the crowd's excitement, we paid our bill and headed to Maipu Avenue to the Pena la Amistad which our Lonely Planet guidebook recommended for some asado and folk music. After a brisk walk, we found Maipu, and walked 6 blocks in, where we came to a block that was dark save for the one place we were headed for, 1111 Maipu, the fated Pena la Amistad.

We walked in and were immediately met with curious (but very welcoming) stares from the cook and the adorable curly-haired waitress. An older gentleman, presumably the cook's husband, came out to greet us and tell us the menu. Our entrance at 9 o'clock marked us immediately as Americans--who else would eat so early?! But we felt welcomed and the waitress came and brought over some house wine immediately, reassuring us that we weren't too early, and informing us that the music would begin in about an hour.

While waiting for the music, we feasted on amazing asado, grilled to perfection, and three lovely rosarino empanadas. The sounds of corks-popping definitely surrounded our table, as we drank down generous glasses of red wine.

Little-by-little, other diners trickled in and sure enough, a man with a guitar in-hand took the stage. Surprisingly, the cook emerged from the kitchen and took the microphone, and then her husband sat himself down with a drum.

The rest is history. We literally lost ourselves in the singing and clapping and foot-stomping that accompanied the musicians as they belted out their soul-filled chacarera tunes. As the night wore on, we opened more bottles of wine and were eventually handed a make-shift marocco (made from salt inside of a plastic Mayonnaise bottle!) and then, gem-of-all-gems, a rain-shaker!!! (Which Nick took great joy in!) It was, really and truly, the time of our lives. We left at 2:30 in the morning, after being there for nearly 6 hours. And we were the first to leave! We left exhausted and desperately needing bed, but feeling like wimps as we left the Pena when it was still a-rockin'! I know I will always remember Rosario mostly for that little hidden folk music treasure, the Pena la Amistad. That, I know now, is my leaf of Rosario.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Little Miss Green Thang

The Green Queen Ms. Cunningham is leaving quite a green footprint on Buenos Aires, let me tell you! Everyday she is looking high and low, searching under every stone, for more green pieces of the city. From her guidance, we have dined at two AMAZING green restaurants: BIO, and the restaurant of the amazing eco-friendly boutique hotel, Casa Calma. Both were AMAZING. Please humor me while I indulge in my memories...

At Bio, we dined on tofu grilled in a mustard sauce, mushrooms marinated in coconut milk and Thai chilies, salads full of pecans and avocado and pineapple and pumpkin goodness, and ginger ice cream over an apple crisp. AH, the organic, fresh goodness of it all!!

At Casa Calma we feasted on smoked salmon sandwhiches on nutty whole-wheat bread, grilled organic chicken heaven, and organic happy-cow steak, all while we sipped on natural ginger maté that left our tongues zinging! The hotel's name is very accurate, for in that beautiful white, softly-lit café, bellies full with healthy cuisine, we were indeed c-a-l-m, despite the hectic, noisy traffic that was just out the door but seemed miles away.

So, the green temptress has tempted our tastebuds and left us yearning for more, more, MORE organic goodies!! In order to not break the bank, we have been trying to incorporate new and green recipes at home. Caitlin has dazzled us with her amazingly fresh bruschetta, I have tried to contribute by making baked apples sprinkled with cinnamon for dessert, and we are steeping away the organic teas Caitlin has purchased. Some other green finds Caitlin has dug up are the following:

The Natural Deli, a little café and shop in classy chic Las Cañitas, where Caitlin bought two bottles of organic wine, two boxes of organic teas, one giant bag of organic maté, AND a lovely little jar of organic jam (no corn syrup in that baby! Hurray!). Not to mention the biodegradable plastic bags the store gives away that we are now using for trash!!!

The Casa Calma TOUR. Little Miss Green Thang scored us an in-depth tour of the Casa Calma, Buenos Aires' FIRST eco-friendly hotel. The lovely hotel manager, Agustina, showed us all of the rooms and all of their amazingly natural spa products and services...(Couldn't Caitlin have tried a little harder and gotten us an actual spa service??!) If anyone reading this is planning a trip to Buenos Aires, I really recommend staying at the Casa Calma!!

Re-usable grocery bags. She brought them from home, and yes, now Nick sports a ¨Green and Gorgeous¨ cloth bag as he grocery shops. It's pretty amazing!!!

The Omnivore's Dilemma. This famous little paperback packed with scary facts on where our food comes from, and hopeful facts about where it should come from, is dominating our Green Queen's days. She is reading out loud to us every other page, so I feel I don't really have to do my own research anymore, as I've got my in-house, live, organic news feed!

YOGA (pronounced shoga in Argentina!). Yesterday marked the first day of Caitlin's now-daily yoga sessions, which involve 30 minutes of yoga in our apartment's one bedroom, Nick standing on one side of the bed, me on the other, and Caitlin leading in front of the bed, smoke from the apple incense we bought in Tigre swirling all around us and making us feel very om-like. I have to admit, I must look like a stiff gringo, but I feel GREAT. I feel all loosened up and hope to look like Guru Cunningham someday if I keep it up, which I am determined to do!!!

Keep tuned in for more of Little Miss Green Thang's adventures! I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

a Window Into A City's Soul






Opening up Buenos Aires to Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham was like pulling open a curtain to view a new city; we saw it with fresh eyes, rediscovering the pieces of its puzzle over and over again.

Caitlin has started a collection of photographs documenting her time in Buenos Aires. She calls this photo essay "The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly." I think it is the most apt title, as every part of Buenos Aires has a bit of the good, the bad, and the ugly in it. They are three sides of the same coin, all inescapable without the other. You can't walk through beautiful Puerto Madero without thinking of the unscrupulous wealth disparities in the city, or of the corruption that so enriched some of these residents. And, on the flip-side, you can't see the villas without thinking that at one time, to some of its residents, these slums offered the dazzling hope of a shot at life in Argentina's Big Apple.


But, this week, 4 Cunninghams and 1 Maxwell tried our very best to conquer and soak up the good of BA. We strolled through the rose garden; ate one amazing meal after another; became intrigued while watching Evita the musical and then explored our way through the Evita Museum; shopped til we dropped; took in the paintings of the MALBA and the petals of the unfolding Flora Generalis rose; wound our way through Recoleta tombs; stopped at nearly every vendor at the San Telmo Antique Fair; and danced salsa through our Tuesday night. In so many ways it was exotic, unforgettable, and an honest-to-goodness blast.
Nick and I got to see so many sights we had yet to check off the list, like the Flora Generalis and her metallic solar-powerd leaves, stretching out in the sunshine and reflecting the sparkles of the water that rocks underneath her flower. And we got to show off and play tour guide to some of the most spectacular city jewels, from the haunting mausaleums of the Recoleta Cemetery to the quaint sea-side atmosphere of the Tigre Delta. To look at Buenos Aires through those fresh-again eyes, right as we are about to close our BA chapter, was indeed the perfect way to begin to say goodbye to this temporary home.


But of course, we couldn't altogether avoid the sharp edges. As we hopped over piles of dog poop on the cracked sidewalks and dodged traffic that never stops, despite a blinking and beckoning walking signal, snippets of the bleaker side of BA came through. Only hours after Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham landed, the 5 of us were walking down Avenida Santa Fe, taking in the Botanical Gardens on our right and the layout of the city on our left. Mrs. Cunningham was snapping a few pictures here and there, until she realized her camera was no longer on her wrist. There is no way that it had fallen off; it was wound tighly around her arm and she would have felt its sudden fall. It had to have been clipped off by a very savvy pick-pocketer. Mrs. Cunningham didn't let it get in her way; she was such a trooper and hardly skipped a beat. But it was a scary reminder that we weren't in the US (though of course that could happen anywhere) and that we have to take extra precautions.

But in the end, that is the real BA: the good, the bad, and the ugly, as Caitlin so appropriately says. And in the end, that is what travel is for, to show us the reality of other places so that our understanding and our empathy deepens. As my mom so often says, "it is important to be uncomfortable," to realize other perspectives and other ways. There are so many ways to challenge yourself in that medium and to put yourself in uncomfortable, soul-searching situations--some people find it through sports, others through intensive careers or studies, and some find it through travel. When you travel, you are completely vulnerable to an unknown place, with its own system, rules, and regulations. It was exciting and interesting to see the Cunninghams open up to the good, the bad, and the ugly here and accept it all without question or judgement, to see them experience BA.

And with that experience, with that loss of comfort, comes the abandonment of routine. While traveling, a schedule goes out the window, and the day unfolds exactly as it is supposed to. In a short time while traveling, you can learn so much about those around you, and connect in ways that take longer in everyday life and all of its hubub. And that happened so much this week. Without a schedule, without too many obligations from work and other factors, the 5 of us were free to stay at lunch for another hour because we were having a good conversation, or to keep dinner going for another 2 hours because we were laughing so much. That is the most rewarding, when travel becomes not so much about the destination, but rather about atmosphere within that destination that permits such unusual openness and memory-making moments. I am so thankful for this week and all of the memories it has given me.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Llegamos a...PALERMO!

...It's true...We feel like VIP's! From the barrio de los barrios to the hippest Baires hood! How can this be?

7 months, 4 apartments, 4 neighborhoods, over 30 different bus lines, 500+ bus rides, and who-knows-how-many-teaching-institutes later, here we are...Cozily curled up in the home-iest apartment---Nick, Caitlin, and I...And altogether working on a project as our full-time jobs. Oh, thank goodness!!! These past 7 months have been crazy...At times the most wonderful, at times the most stressful, but altogether, as we stand still in this moment, we realize that each moment here has been invaluable. And we are so thankful to now work together for something we believe in, to live in a new neighborhood where we feel a bit more in the heart of the city, and to look forward to the adventures ahead...

Caitlin has now been here for officially 2 weeks, and she has had some big tastes of Argentina! Here are the Argentine things she has already experienced:

1) PARILLA

We ate mouth-watering matambre (my personal favorite...matar means to kill, and hambre means hunger, so matambre literally means kill the hunger), ojo de bife, and PROVOLETA (or cheese-block, as Caitlin calls it...It's just a big hunk of provolone cheese baked until melty and crusted in herbs...It is my favorite Argentine goody.).


2) THE BEACH
The three of us spent the weekend in lovely San Bernardo, a five hour bus ride south of the city. It was beachy and perfect. We body-surfed the waves, sun-tanned on the sand, drank pineapple daquiris and ate, ate, ate.
3) SALSA (okay, that's more Cuban...but it's Latin, so we're going to throw it in there!)

That's the three of us before we got on the dance-floor. :-)
4) THE COLECTIVO/THE BUS

And boy has she gotten a taste of public transportation's good-bad-and ugly. Yesterday after work, Caitlin and I hopped on-board the 109, at the dreaded rush-hour of 6:45...It was packed to the brim, triple-layered. The poor bus driver--ten of us were clumped right next to him, as he tried to navigate through stop-and-go traffic. The only saving grace to the whole ride was that the driver was blasting, "Turn around, bright eyes!" over his speakers. Caitlin and I looked at each other right at the height of the song's passion, right at the height of the bus's over-crowdedness, and we summed up the situation: "Well, at least we won't forget this moment."
5) THE TBA TRAIN
After biking around the eco-reserve a week and a half ago, we all took the TBA train back to our friend Laura's house. We stood in the train car reserved for bikes, next to a little girl with a butterfly catcher attached to her bicycle, and across from the TBA drifters. The TBA drifters are two young men, obviously companions who meet up daily without needing to discuss meeting plans. I think they wander with little forethought, and that particular day found them drifting through barrios aboard the Linea San Martin. They were tattooed, froed, and a throw-back in general to the days when mischief was wholesome, and involved train hopping and annoying the other commuters by using the floor as their own personal bongo. I really loved them...I wonder where they are now?



6) FERNET
Ah, Fernet. The death of me! Fernet is Argentina's national liquor, a somewhat minty, very herbal-esque and strong liquor that is drank mixed with Coca Cola...On Sunday night as we sat outside in San Bernardo, full from El Inmortal's amazing pasta, we finished off two bottles of wine (I think it might have been three in all seriousness) with a Fernet and Coke. Oh my goodness was it fun at the time. And in the morning, it's been so long since I have really been drunk, I thought I had the flu...Until I remembered the Fernet. Oh, the 5 hour bus ride back to Buenos Aires was not so fun!!! But the fun of the evening before made it all worth it. :-)
7) EVITA!
On Caitlin's first weekend, we took her to the Recoleta cemetery, where we walked around the mazes of mausaleums and peered into the broken glass doorways that guard the entrance to Argentina's most elite resting sanctuaries. And of course we stopped by Evita's tomb, where there was a line of tourists with flashing bulbs, all scrambling to get a glimpse of Eva Duarte's final grave-spot (she made some brief detours to Spain, Italy, and the headquarters of the CGT union...with some interesting grave robber, hostage holding, and mummifying stories all thrown into the mix!).


I'm sure there is so much more, but my brain is a little fried from the scramble of today's move...But all I can say is that Caitlin is becoming quite the little Argentine!! :-)