Category Archives: food and drink
Tuesday was wine day. We started the day with a tour and tasting at Achaval-Ferrer, one of Argentina’s premier boutique wines. We had an amazing view of the Andes front range and kept pinching ourselves to see if it all was real. The bodega has been open for only 10 years and have earned one of those reputations worthy of their 98 point wines. It’s a tiny place and has a very hands-on approach to wine making. There’s one single corking machine with which they seal all 500-700 bottles/day that pass through. Their terroir malbec wines, especially the Finca Altamira, was outstanding, and we were only given barrel samples! Bought a bottle of the Quimera that we’ll keep for a special meal.
Just blogging along. Two exciting things on the weekend: we had a marvelous lunch on Saturday with some new friends Daniela, Jorge, and their 3 daughters. Daniela’s a medical doctor who’d evaluated Emily for some physical therapy and Jorge is an editor at La Nacíon, the big national newspaper. Daniela and I had hit if off immediately when we first met and figured out, within a few minutes, that we had in common the city of Bethesda, Maryland. She and family had lived there recently for 3 years (when Jorge was in Wash DC as the foreign correspondent for La Nacíon), and Bethesda is the city where I grew up. Go figure.
For lunch we enjoyed a traditional asado: a particular sequence of meats grilled on a parilla. Usually first entraña (might be translated incorrectly as entrails; it’s some cut of meat from near the diaphragm but sometimes I find it translated also as skirt steak? My cow map doesn’t help since I don’t know where different beef cuts come from anyway; does one wear a skirt steak above or below the knees?), then chorizo (pork sausage), then asado (both a cut of meat – short ribs – and the name for the whole meal), then vacio (flank steak). Yum. Sometimes at the beginning one also eats other innards and those things with an innard type of provenance. Blood sausages, sweetbreads. Julia finds the vat of sesos (brains) at the butchers rather off-putting.
The other exciting event from the weekend? Defrosting the freezer. Chris estimates the fridge is older than we are (which would place it from the mid-1960s or before). It has a tiny (12″ by 24″) space that fills with ice, known as a poor excuse for a freezer, and since we’d moved in it had done what old-fashioned freezers do: fill with ice all around. Once there was only space for a small box of Barfy burgers, we figured it was time to pull the plug. The kids found the endeavor quite curious (having never seen one defrost one’s freezer in their short lifetimes). Thanks for executing that necessary chore, Chris.
Now that Chris is done with the bulk of his teaching we’re thinking about what kind of brief out-of-town trips we might take with the kids. I have one coming up, a few days in Mendoza with my brother who will be visiting soon. Otherwise we’re still debating. Eric and Julia consider their weekends sacred, not being big fans of school right now. They’re quite content to hang out, read books, play GameBoy, watch Spanish TV, walk around town and do errands, swing in the back yard. Recently Julia heard us discussing the option of a short trip across the river to Uruguay. Julia (who hasn’t got the foggiest notion of life across the river) retorts: “Uruguay?! I don’t want to waste a precious weekend in Uruguay!”
Hmmm. Perhaps there’s a freezer that she can stay home and defrost instead?
>I’m finally beginning to understand the story behind the strike that’s been going on across the country in the last few weeks. There is no shortage of opportunities to hear the news, but I guess I spend too much time sitting in my house working on a computer and connecting to the States and not enough time reading the Argentine newspapers or having conversations on the street. My step-father Fred even experienced the traffic associated with the strikers blocking a main highway but we still didn’t understand the whole story.
Now I’ve pieced together the threads with the helpful perspectives of the lady who owns the lavandería (laundromat) down the street and Mari, the woman who cleans our house. The government is imposing higher tariffs on grain exports, much of which go to China. Argentina competes with Brazil and the US for those Chinese dollars and it’s a cut-throat market. Argentina is the world’s 2nd largest corn exporter and 3rd for soybeans. President Kirchner has many ideas for how that tax revenue could be used, but many don’t think it will help those who need it most, including the (huge) agricultural sector. In protest, many farmers and transporters (truckers) went on a 16-day strike. With no truckers trucking, the shelves at stores grew emptier and emptier. Prices for meat (and milk, and other foods) are already very high here, and it’s hard to imagine an Argentine meal without meat. Last night I went to the carnecería to shop for tonight’s parilla and the butcher reminded me to get all I’d need for the weekend, as he expected to be sold out by noon today. At a market this morning, Chris said the sale of milk was limited to two boxes, sugar to two bags, and no meat could be had.