Blogging From Argentina
by Marina Solovyov
[editor’s note: GoNOMAD intern Marina Solovyov recently went to Argentina where she learned about the country and the culture, and saw firsthand what workers are accomplishing at “recovered” factories and other businesses, including the hotel she stayed at.]
Monday, March 12, 2007
Argentina: Where Steaks are an Art Form
“Argentina may be a vegetarian’s nightmare, but it is heaven for dedicated carnivores.”
Ask anyone who has visited the country, Argentineans take immense pride in their beef. To try some of this heavenly meat in Argentina, search for a Parilla (a grill or barbecue house).
An Argentinean restaurant is considered to have good meat if it has an Asador — an “open fire of glowing coals around which a number of vertical metal crosses hold carcasses of goat, lamb and pork meat,” thus look for this feature before sitting down.
Also take notice if the steak house you enter shares a presence with an enormous stuffed bull; this will let you know if the restaurant is at par excellence.
Whether you dine out or visit someone, be aware that eating in Argentina is different than in most parts world. International style restaurants open around eight or eight-thirty p.m. and diners often start up at around nine or ten p.m. closing by midnight or later.
“A typical Parrilla meal will begin with Empanadas — small, meat-filled pastry pockets that are the traditional starters, followed by a bewildering choice of side-salads that accompany the grills.” At the finest restaurants in Argentina, the selection of salads is enormous. La Chacra in Buenos Aires has 24 salad varieties to choose from.
As for ordering the beef, the large variety of local cuts may make you feel like your eyes are bigger than your stomach. To help narrow down the selection, here is some advice:
The finest cut of beef is usually Bife de Lomo (Eye Cutlet) and usually the most expensive, but to go with the people’s choice, try Bife de Chorozo. It is a steak cut off the rib and similar to Sirloin or Porterhouse. If you’re starving, consider the Bife de Costilla; its enormous and compares with the T-bone. Furthermore, Rib Roast, known as Tira de Asado, is the second most popular cut with Porteños (natives). When grilled on the spit, this cut will be thick and short, and if cooked on the char-grill it will be thinner and longer.
Finally, no Argentinean meal is complete without some red wine. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to indulge a little; Argentineans are the fifth largest wine producers in the world!
Source: Walter and Cherie Glaser
photo by thejatinthehat.com
Monday, March 19, 2007
Buenos Aires Part I: Protesting in JFK
I did not think that we would make it to Buenos Aires. Myself, thirty five students, and three UMASS professors involved in a class on the politics, history, and culture of Argentina, were on our way to Buenos Aires for ten days. Our focus: to meet with political activists such as the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo and tour recovered factories.
If you used the airport in New England in the last week, you may be aware that the two major hubs, Logan and JFK, cancelled flights due to the snowstorm. Yet our group was pleasantly surprised when we discovered our 11: 30 p.m. flight with LAN Chile was not even delayed.
We boarded, but were shortly informed that there was a “de-icing” delay. One hour in the plane turned to two, then to three. At 2:30 a.m. we were still on the plane! Sore, I awoke at 7 a.m. to hear voices telling me to get off the aircraft. This is was the begining our nightmare at the airport.
With $10 breakfast vouchers, we trudged away when told by LAN to check-in at 1:30 p.m. Upon return, we got the same story. Too much ice on the road and bad weather conditions. ¨Come back at 4:30″ LAN crew said. My teachers began to loose it; we all saw the ice had melted and other flights at JFK were leaving.
The truth was that the LAN staff had detected a technical problem with the plane the night before. To save money, they lied crying, “icy runway”.
What came next was straight out of a movie. Gloria and Garciella stood up to the LAN crew and protested. Everyone got behind them in support. For two hours, shouting and got involved and my teachers were almost arrested.
To stay out of jail, we all sat on the floor like children and tried to reason with the airline. However, besides protesting, there was no other way to deal with the cheaters. We were scared: Our trip which had taken months to organize, was in jepordy of being cancelled.
But then a miracle. To get out of the mess they put themselves in, LAN added a new one-time route, which was previously unscheduled. It would solve our problems and let them be rid of us. We´d fly to Chile, stay on board while others unloaded, and re-connect in Peru.
I have two bottom lines: be careful when booking with LAN. Although there are some good reviews about the airline, I have seen how unorganized they can be, thus explaining criticisms that they often have delays. Even though the LAN crew in Peru functinoned better, LAN is an agency I no longer trust. Second. We made it to! Yesterday, I spent my first day in Buenos Aires. It was wonderful to finally arrive after such a disastrous beginning.
Marina Solovyov lives in Tokyo, Japan.
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