Sunday, February 8, 2009

Parte de la familia

I'm having a fantastic time so far! I really, really love Buenos Aires, and I think it's going to be a great year abroad. I've been here only 2 days, and I'm already loving it. Of course, I haven't started school yet, so a lot remains to be seen, but my first impressions are phenomenal, and that's gotta count for something. If only the men were taller, and I didn't think my colon was going to give out on me from so much meat, this might be the perfect country.

So when I left off, I was getting ready to meet up with Ali, Bata, Nathan, and Scott for dinner on Friday night. We ended up going to a place near Ai's house called La Payuca, which is a place that specializes in carne a la parilla (grilled meat). In addition to sharing a couple bottles of fantastic Malbec, we loaded ourselves down with a ton of meat and potatoes. Bata, Scott, and Ali split a huge meat sampler (I forget what it's called) which had a little bit of everything-- and I mean everything-- including kidneys, intestines, some sort of gland, the whole bit. They said it was delicious... it looked like this:

Nathan and I split a delicious carne de lomo, which is pretty much a prime rib, or something to that effect. Yummmmyyyy!

You eat it with a series of these salsas they give you. The one on the left is the classic Argentine chimichurri, then the next one is salsa criolla, the green one is provenzal (my favorite!), and the last one was a sort of spicy tomato sauce.

Afterword, we checked out a brewery called Buller in Recoleta, where Ali insisted I try the sampler of all 6 of their locally brewed cervezas... she was right! Fantatic. First time I've ever liked a "light lager," to be honest. My personal favorite was the Honey Beer, 3rd from the left. The boys shared a couple pitchers of the IPA, which was reeeeally good, but not quite as hoppy as I'm used to.

About halfway through the sampler, I started to totally pass out and realize that I was waaayyyy more jet-lagged than I realized. (Nathan told me the next day that I kept on apologizing for "being lame" and they kept saying "don't worry about it, you're tired and you won't even remember this in the morning," and sure enough, I definitely do not remember that conversation.) I was totally delirious and passing out at the table, so we finally said our good byes to N and S, and I went and slept on Ali and Bata's midget couch, where I sweated profusely all night long. Wow it is hot.

Anyway, yesterday (Saturday) was a total blast! Every Saturday Ali and Bata drive to his hometown of Adrogue (a suburb about 45 minutes outside the city) where they have lunch with his entire family, and I was lucky enough to be invited! It was incredible-- not to mention, delicious! From the moment I walked in, I felt incredibly bienvenido. I met Bata's dad (Jorge) and mom (Adriana), sister (Paula) and her boyfriend (Maxi), brother (Nachi-- short for Ignacio) and his girlfriend (Sofi), grandmother and great uncle, and aunt (Cristina). What an awesome family!

Bata's dad, Jorge, cooks up a mean asado (basically an Argentine barbecue, with tons of yummy meats cooks on the grill), and the whole family are excellent hosts. I mean, they are hilarious, laid back, a ton of fun, and love food just like me. :-) We spent all afternoon on their gorgeous back patio by the pool drinking soda and wine, eating asado accompanied by potatoes, a mixed salad, a capris salad, palmitas (hearts of palm), and ice cream for dessert.

Jorge cooking his asado:

My yummy plate of food-- lomo (steak), choripan (chorizo on bread), provoleta (grilled provolone cheese), salad, and wine.

Not everyone, but most of the table (L-R: Ali, Adriana, Bata, Jorge, Paula, Maxi, Me):

Food side note: I ate intestines (chinchulines). They were DISGUSTING, but I tried them. I may or may not have spit them out in my napkin...) I did not, however, try to glands or the kidneys. Baby steps.

All in all, it was a fantastic day. Sunny and not uncomfortably hot (probably high 70s), a day by the pool with great people and food... what more could I ask for? Plus, they are hilarious. At one point we got to talking about how Ali and her family always pee themselves when they laugh too hard! (Apparently Ali once peed in the dressing room of an Ann Taylor, while trying on a dress, which she peed all over, and then in turn her mom peed all over her own khakis, and Ali balled up the dress, threw it in the corner, and fled the mall. Hahahahaha!!!) The best part was then everyone started chiming in with pee stories, and I was cracking up sitting there realizing this is the kind of thing MY crazy family would discuss at dinner, and how nice it was to be with a laid back bunch who aren't afraid to talk about a little pee.

Also, in addition to telling me how fantastic my Spanish is (admittedly, it is really good, better than I expected after a 3 year hiatus), they also couldn't get over how tall I am. At one point Jorge pulled out a tape measure and measured me, since I wasn't sure of my height in centimeters. So there we all are out on the patio, crowded around me as I got measured-- 175 centimeters, by the way! Soy muy alta! It was hilarious.

After stopping by for a visit with one of Ali's Argentine sisters, Victoria, and sharing some yummy yerba mate, Ali and I took the combi (shared bus) home to BA, while Bata stayed with his family.

I stopped by my residence long enough to change my clothes and confirm that yes, I live with a bunch of studious Americans who don't seem to get out much or speak any Spanish (avoid! avoid!), I took off once again for dinner with Nathan, Scott, and Ali. By the time I got to N&S's hotel (a short walk from my place), it was about 11:00, which in Argentina is just in time for dinner! We decided on Italian food, since there is a huge Italian culture here and the Italian food is top notch. We dined on really yummy pasta at a tiny restaurant owned and operated by an Italian man and his sweet Brazilian wife, and then headed over to San Telmo to check out the bar scene. We ended up at a sort of Bohemian style bar called Gibraltar, where we drank $8 peso Quilmes beers and looked at boys. I think San Telmo is a bit of a touristy area, because a lot of the people definitely were not Argentinian, but I was struck by how short the boys here are. Uggghhhhh. Beards are very in here, though, so at least there's that. :-) Anyway, we ended up staying out until after 4:00am... again, totally normal for Buenos Aires, but today I'm exhausted.

This is the world's longest blog post, so I will stop now. I am going to go on a drive and some sort of tour with Nathan, Scott, Ali, and Bata today, and then later on get ready for school. Yes, I start school tomorrow! Wish me luck. I'm semi-terrified.


Heather said...

A travel writer you definitely are!!! keep 'em comin', sweetums. it's as if we are right there with you! xoxo mom

atown said...

Sounds like fun. Miss you!
When I come visit, I better have massive amounts of meat waiting for me!

Hi, I'm Erica. said...

Thanks, Mom! I will write as much as I possibly can. :-)

A-town, yesss!! I can guarantee more steaks upon your arrival than you can shake a stick at. Now get down here!!! xoxoxoxo