Monday, September 24, 2012

I Love/Hate B.A.

When people ask me how I like Buenos Aires, they get the truth. "It's a love hate relationship." It's not just me though, I've heard the same from lifelong porteños and other expats alike. It seems the idiosyncrasies of this city can't be perceived any other way. It really is a great city with tons of history, art, culture, amazing nightlife, great food (if you put in work finding it) and character. But for every good feature there is something bad - inefficient government, low service standards, lack of personal responsibility and poor quality goods. 

So here, after reaching my one year anniversary with B.A., I give you how I really feel about it.

I love the smell of candied nuts, baking bread and fresh flowers from the sidewalk vendors and neighborhood bakeries. / I hate the smell of accumulating trash and piss.
I love the abundance and low cost of fresh spices. / I hate that dried spices are sold in non resealable plastic bags.
I love cheap beer and wine. / I hate that people frown upon getting wasted face-ted.
I love the low cost of public transportation. / I hate it's unreliability.
I love how many dogs there are, and how they walk without leashes. / I hate their shit all over the sidewalk.
I love that bars and nightclubs are open so late. / I hate how no one goes out before midnight, ever.
I love no sales tax. / I hate servicio de mesa ... seriously, WTF?
I love La Rural and all the cultural events hosted there. / I hate when the line is several hundred people long.
I love cheap steaks. / I hate when they're overcooked... and even more when they give me food poisoning. 
I love how many holidays there are. / I hate how everything is crazy busy or closed on holidays.
I love the free newspaper in the subway. / I hate when it's full of bad news and crime.
I love artisan ferias. / I hate being overcharged because my Spanish sucks.
I love cultural events. / I hate that the money spent on them should really be used other places.

I hate how Argentines love to hate on the U.S. / I love how they really love it.
I hate the coffee. / I love the coffee culture.
I hate how most people act on the public transportation. / I love when you knock on the bus door and the driver lets you on even when you're not at a stop.
I hate inflation. / I love the U.S. dollar's value on the parallelo
I hate the cereal here. / I looove fresh medialunas for breakfast instead.
I hate how expensive clothes are. / I love how cheap artisan things are.
I hate that there is no rap music. / I love reggaeton.
I hate unrefrigerated boxed milk. / I love ice cream shops everywhere, none of that supermarket freezer stuff.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Spring in Puerto Madero

After a seemingly endless winter of monsoon-like conditions, which seem to have destroyed the onion crops of the entire country as well as your leather boots, Buenos Aires has appeared to reach spring. I'm not pulling out my sandals just yet, but it's already been 70 (err, I mean over 20) twice this week and there's more on the forecast.
Although the entire city sparkles under the glow of sunshine, Puerto Madero is especially nice. There's just something about the sun reflecting off the twinkling water that makes it look almost not brown! Walks on the Puente de la Mujer fill you with warmth, instead of ideas of wind-assisted suicide. Overpriced restaurants have cute tables out on the sidewalks. Plus, the reflective windows of one of my offices serve as a perfect mirror to all the under-dressed teens taking pictures of themselves. It really is good times.
Just look at this! It's nearly a nature reserve! Don't you feel like these turtles, emerging from the murky polluted waters (of winter) to sunbathe atop the litter-accented, man-made, outdoor spaces of B.A? 
It's not all sunshine and rainbows though. Shit's going down. Puerto Madero's got a gang. Maybe it is part of B.A. after all...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Primavera Trujillana

When I discovered Peruvian food (at Taste) it was like the food gods were finally taking pity on me with a peace offering. I don't know how I managed to neglect this exquisite cuisine for the first 9 months of being here (I mean I could be giving birth to a Peruvian food baby by now!), but ever since then I've been making up for lost time. Per the usual, I shared my new food obsession with my students, who directed me some of the city's best.
One of these, which has since become a favorite is Primavera Trujilla, located on the Belgrano/Nunez border at 1627 Roosevelt. There's two Peruvian restaurants on this short block - Primavera Trujilla is the yellow one.
It's small interior holds a dozen or so closely packed tables that are nearly always occupied. Both times I've been I've gotten a table right away, but there were only one or two more left. The interior is plain and simple with miscellaneous Peruvian decorations and tapestry tablecloths.
It's hard to decide if Peruvian food or drinks are better, so your best option is to go hungry with room for both. Peruvian = piscos, and here the maracuya piscos are the best: icy, fruity and legitimately strong. As soon as you order you'll get the perfect accompaniment to your first pisco, a bowl of cancha. Cancha is a traditional Peruvian snack, which is basically over-sized roasted and salted corn kernels - something like big kernel shaped popcorn with the shell still on.
The menu is about 50/50 seafood and other dishes. The seafood is quite good for B.A. standards, especially ceviche considering it's raw! The mixed ceviche is delish with mussels, calamari and fish in a perfect lime and cilantro sauce. The aji de gallina is another delish dish, especially if you are a non-seafood-eating-freak. Even if you are normal, on a cold day the creamy sauce and big chunks of chicken make for a hearty meal. 
[As an aside I hate eggs and chicken together; it seems unnatural and creepy. But as they say "you get what you get and you don't get upset."]
Ale, the adventurous Argie eater that he is, got the Lomo dish, i.e. steak with peppers and onions. It was good, though the equivalent of getting pasta with butter from a French chef. The french fries were crunchy outside and delicious though!
They also have a killer lunch special. You better get it while you can aka before they adjust the price for inflation. Midday from Monday through Friday they have 9 different options (including aji de gallina) ranging from 30-36 pesos including a water or soda. It's almost like the good old days, before Cuban style economics took over.... almost.