Tuesday, March 30, 2010


 Sad faces :(

Change is in the air. Today at the butt crack of dawn, my roommate Eli left for the airport to catch her flight back to the States, never to return to Argentina (at least for the foreseeable future). After a lovely night of ñoccis (stuffed and unstuffed) and good company that ended at about 3 am, I napped for an hour while Eli finished up packing. Then, after saying a tearful goodbye, I went back to bed, alone in the apartment once more.

I will miss Eli dearly, but will refrain from excessive sentimentality here, just because that's how I am. It started out as a blogship, and then when she moved in we became real friends. Eli and I had some amazing times together, and even in the more difficult and stressful times (Traguito's death, house guests both human and insect, muggings, financial crises), I knew I could count on her. Best thing to come out of this blog, by far!

As I was watching Eli pack, I realized just how much I don't want to have to leave this country, at least for a long while. I have so much of myself invested in Argentina now (except actual financial investments, money being a little on the low side) that I can't even imagine packing up all my stuff and heading home. Maybe the time will come when I will want to leave, but it ain't today!

Anyway, in terms of change, I'm in the process of working out a new roommate situation, but we'll see what happens with that over the next week or so. I've also rearranged my bedroom furniture and turned the bed around (maybe it will confuse the fleas!!) Oh! And I bought a new shower curtain. It's rad.

This was quite the random post, and I do apologize. I'm a bit tired considering I didn't sleep last night, so I can't quite keep a train of thought going. Might be time for a nap. More to come later, including How to Get a Certificado de Domicilio, and a review of closed door restaurants here in BA.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Deep Thoughts...Prepare Yourself

I’m waxing philosophical today, for a change. I’ve kind of been taking a “personal day” from the blog to focus on some things that I’ve chosen not to write about, both good things and bad things. But I’ve also been thinking a lot about life, especially because I’ll be living on my own again in a few days once my roommate Eli goes back to the States (blog coming up)—I always think more when something big in my life changes.

Back in the day (aka a few months ago) I used to think, “If only this one thing would happen, then my life would be perfect.” I think many people tend to do that…put their happiness on hold until that one specific thing falls into place. I’ve done it with weight (if I just lost those last 4 kilos), with love (if only I had a boyfriend), with money (if I had more money I could do everything I wanted).

But the thing I’ve realized is, it’s always something. Even if that one thing does fall into place, we immediately find something else that’s missing, or that isn’t right, or that isn’t good enough. I don’t know if it’s human nature, or just a bad habit that comes from a capitalistic, competitive society pushing us to always want more of everything.

Living here in Buenos Aires, I’ve learned that a perfect life is unattainable, at least in the sense that everything I want is going to fall into my lap, when I want it to. Perfection is impossible. But happiness is not. Happiness is so, so attainable. God, I sound like a Hugh Grant film. But really. I think I’ve figured it out.

Today I was thinking about the all things that need to get done before I can be “happy” or before my life is “perfect.” And trust me, it’s a long list. I want my papers so that I can stay here in this country and not have to feel worried about being forced to go back to the States some day. I need to fix my computer, because apparently Dell keyboards and mate do not like each other. I need to get rid of the invading army of fleas that have decided to take over my house and that appear to be enjoying their stay a bit too much. I want to lose 4 kilos. I want to be tan again. I need to clean the sink and organize the kitchen and sweep the balcony and do the laundry and pay the bills.

But then, as I was thinking about all this shit I “have” to do, I suddenly realized (DUH moment) that I am happy. I realized that the list of things that need to get done will never go away. Even if I did all the things on that list, by the time I was done with it I would have added fourteen new things to it. Little things, big things, there’s always something.

Sooooooo, why not just say fuck it and do my best? I’m happy with my life. I have everything I need, and everything I want. The list of things to do isn’t going anywhere, so why worry about it? I mean, I’m not saying that I’m not going to address the things on my list (the fleas are number one, believe me). But I’m not going to let my list dictate my happiness. And really, since I moved here, it doesn’t. Despite all the crap that must get done, I am happy. I just didn't know it.

See? HAPPY! (but do you see what I mean about the tan? eek.)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Temazo Tuesday

I am fascinated. Absolutely fascinated. Have you seen the latest Lady Gaga video? IT'S INSANE! I mean, honestly...who came up with the idea for this video?! The costumes, the setting...it's all just so...WEIRD. I love watching Lady Gaga--there's just something so delightfully creepy about her that is entrancing. It's not necessarily good music, but at least watch the video. Her outfits are probably the best part of the whole thing...she wears sunglasses made out of lit cigarettes in one scene...really. Can't make this stuff up, people. Here it is, Telephone by Lady Gaga featuring Beyonce.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Temazo Tuesday

It's been a while since I posted a Temazo Tuesday...sometimes life just gets in the way of things, I suppose. But now its back, so no worries!

On another note, I can't believe how fast summer turned into fall here. It's March 16 (aka St Paddy's Day Eve) which is the equivalent to September 16 in the States, given the upside-down and backwardness of the southern hemisphere seasons. Definitely fall. Well, not technically. But whatever. Semantics. I feel like something in the air has changed, and its gone from oppressively hot and muggy/buggy to crisp and kind of windy. I'm sure there will still be warm days, but we've turned a corner for sure. I've brought out the cold-weather standbys: moccasin slippers, incredibly hole-y Delaware sweatpants and hoody, extra comforter on the bed, and giant socks.

Hot tea is now the breakfast of choice in the mornings, as opposed to iced coffee. I hate to say it, but I've definitely picked up the Argentine habit of not eating breakfast. Most people here either have coffee or mate in the morning with a few cookies (galletitas) or crackers, and that's it. None of that pancake/eggs/hashbrowns/sausage/waffles/cereal/toast/poptart nonsense! Denny's would not do well here in A-tina.

Anyway, today's temazo has nothing to do with the weather. Or breakfast. I just ramble sometimes. Today's temazo is a song by Celso Piña, a Mexican singer and and accordionist. According to Wikipedia, the source of all knowledge, he taught himself how to play the accordion and used to give "serenatas en el barrio a todas las chicas de la cuadra." Translation: he used to give serenades in the hood to all the girls on the block (Jenny on the Block?). Interesting.

His music is a mix of cumbia, Caribbean, sonidero, and a whole bunch of other stuff, and I like it. I've been listening to this one since I discovered it on my iTunes (I have no idea where half the music on that thing comes from...most of the time it's just a big grab-bag of crap, but sometimes I find some real gems). My cat also liked this song--I used to hold him like a baby and bounce him up and down while singing it. It's called El Tren (Mr. Cumbia Man) and features a fascinating rapper (?) called Blanquito Man. The video is quite amusing--Blanquito Man has some sick moves--so enjoy!

Friday, March 12, 2010

How To: Empanadas!

One of the things that you have to try if you come to Argentina are the empanadas. I mean, duh. Besides the wine and beef, Argentina is known for its ubiquitous empanadas, literal translation = little packages of yum. Seriously.

Empanadas are everywhere, and for good reason—they’re delicious, they’re cheap, they’re easy to eat and relatively easy to make, and they fill you up. It’s surprising really…I’m a big fan of eating and can generally pack away as much as the next fatty, but with empanadas I max out at three (hangs head in shame).

Here in BA, empanadas can be a meal or a snack, depending on the time of day. Order a bunch and you'll have a delicious if exceedingly unhealthy dinner, or just get a few to tide you over between lunch and dinner. They're also great as late night snacks and are a popular party food (see below picture of standard Argentine gathering fare--wine, fernet, vodka, beer, cigarettes, and a GIANT box of empanadas).

Empanadas come in many different forms, and I’m not just talking about fillings. You can get fried empanadas (fritas) or baked empanadas (al horno), tucumanas or salteñas. Since empanadas originate in the northwest of Argentina, empanadas from Tucumán or Salta are considered more authentic. The differences vary, the main one being that the filling in empanadas salteñas usually contains red pepper and peas, and the size is a bit smaller than other empanadas. But honestly, they’re all delicious, so it doesn’t really matter.

Common fillings you will find here in BA include:
Carne- beef (usually with pieces of hardboiled eggs, onions, olives, raisins, and/or peppers)
Carne picante- spicy beef
Carne cortado a cuchillo
Pollo- chicken
Cebolla y queso- onion and cheese (my favorite!)
Jamón y queso- omnipresent ham and cheese
Humita- sweet corn and white sauce
Verdura- vegetables, usually spinach, onions, or other vegetable with white sauce
Caprese- mozzarella, basil, tomato

Some places also offer a wider range of empanadas, such as:
Roquefort (cheese)
Champignon- mushrooms
Atún- tuna
Panceta y ciruela- bacon and plum
Cerdo- pork
Cordero- lamb

When you order empanadas, you’ll usually get a piece of paper with little pictures of the different shapes of each empanada so that you can tell what is what. For example, the jamón y queso ones might be round, while the pollo ones might have a braided edge. It all depends. If you don’t get a paper, you’ll just have to try them all, one by succulent one! Sometimes life sucks like that.

After living in BA for 8 months (it will be 8 in April, I always round up) I’ve had my fair share of empanadas. Some have been bad (late night request to a very obliging taxi driver resulting in a not-so-stellar next day), and some have been mediocre.

However, the best empanadas I’ve had are from Pekín, a pizza/empanada place in Palermo. They do delivery, and each delicious bundle of joy is only 3 pesos (except the classy cordero—apparently baby animals cost more). I highly recommend all of their options, except the humita—wasn’t so good. But the carne picante is actually picante, the ceballa y queso is to die for, and don’t get me started on the panceta y ciruela…DROOL. Order them today, you won’t be disappointed. Here’s the number: 4833-9600. Go. Now. You’re welcome.

Other Empanada Places:
El Sanjuanino- “raved” about by tourist guides…nothing super special in my opinion but still good
Tatú- empanadas salteñas
Solo Empanadas- cheapest chain out there, not the greatest but OK if you’re on a budget or under the influence
La Cupertina- another raver, never tried them so you'll have to let me know
Cumaná- never had their empanadas, but if they’re half as good as their fugazetta pizza, I’ll be happy

Happy Empanada-ing!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Gone But Never Forgotten

It's such a strange and trying thing, life. You can't control it, you can't predict the course it will take, and you can't ever go back and change it. Life just happens, and all we can do is live.

On Thursday, my baby cat died. He fell off the 6th story balcony in the early morning, and I found his little body lying in the gutter, covered with a branch. At the sight of him, quiet and lifeless when he was so playful and pouncy just hours before, my heart broke into pieces and there is a gaping hole in my life and my soul that will not be filled soon.

I keep thinking he'll appear around the corner any minute, or jump up onto my bed as I write this and curl up between my knees or on my lap. I still sleep on my back to accommodate him, and find myself looking to all his favorite spots in the hope that he'll be there: in the kitchen sitting next to the onions, on his blanket in my room, on the bath mat while I'm showering, or on the balcony, ironically his favorite spot of all.

He was such a perfect cat, so full of personality and character. He was my kittenface and my baby, and I loved him.