Meals Fit for a KingBuenos Aires, Fall 2011
There is only one week left in the program and although I am excited to see my friends and family, I do not want to leave Buenos Aires. This week made me especially realize how much I will miss this city that never sleeps when I had two separate meals that made Buenos Aires feel like home.
The first dinner was a potluck dinner with my volleyball team. As I have mentioned before, I play volleyball for one of the local universities for the semester. I love my teammates even though we do not play very well. And when I say that we do not play well, I mean that we have lost every game we have played except two (and one of those was because the other team didn’t show. #winning). Our season officially ended last week, but after spending roughly 12 hours a week together on a regular basis, we decided to replace practice with a meal. The only rule for coming was that you had to bring a dish from your host country.
Naturally, I was excited about this because a) it involved food, b) I will be missing Thanksgiving, so this was my replacement meal, and c) I like food. I spent all Sunday afternoon with my friend Madi (also from the states), as we did our best to make a traditional Thanksgiving/home-cooked meal from the states: Rosemary dijon pot roast with sweet potatoes, onions and carrots, apple sausage stuffing, fresh salad, and deviled eggs. I think we did the states proud. You’re welcome Pilgrims, we continue your legacy here in Buenos Aires (minus the cultural imperialism).
When we all got together the amount and diversity of food was overwhelming. It was as if we were hosting our own food Olympics and every country brought out their best contenders for the chance at the gold medal of food glory. Mexico started us off guacamole, refried beans, quesadillas, and fresh made salsas. The use of spice was nice, and Mexico gave a solid effort through each course. Final verdict: 8.0. Next was the main course of the United States and Germany. I know I am biased, but our stuffing was a huge hit and the Argentine’s devoured my deviled eggs. Germany made a strong showing with a traditional pickle and potato salad. Final verdict: US -9.0 for technical difficulty and sheer amount of food, Germany – 8.6. Finally, the desserts were laid out. Argentina came to play with a dulce de leche meringue cake and France represented with butter walnut cookies. The real surprise of the dessert round was the unexpected entry of the U.S. in the dessert category. Another friend from IES showed up with a game-changer: pancakes and (all in one breath) dulce-de-leche-cream-cheese-chocolate-cookie-cake! Final verdict: Argentina – 6.5 for lack of originality considering the cake was store bought. Still delicious though. France – 7.0 because the cookies were a little dry and were upstaged by the homemade pancakes. …. The ultimate winners of the evening were…… the host’s roommates who got to sample all the leftovers and join in on the party. It was a great night filled with good people, good conversation, and good memories. These are the moments I’ll miss when I return to the states.
That meal was a highlight and I ate so much I figured I would never eat again, but two days later I came home from school, still detoxing from pancakes and stuffing, when I walk into my house and discover 15 people sitting, talking, and cooking.
My host mom decided to have a “family” dinner (and by “family” I mean everyone from the mother of her deceased husband to the unborn twins of her daugher-in-law). It was amazing to witness how family dynamics operate in Argentina. Everyone is family as long as you eat together and can trace how you know each other. Her kids were super welcoming and really made an effort to get to know me. Overall, it was an interesting experience to get an outside view of what family looks like here. For the most part I just watched, but I did have an awkward encounter with her kids:
My host mom’s daughter bought boxers for her husband that say, “Tickle my pickle” on them. She knew what it meant, but her brothers didn’t and then kept asking me why someone would want to “touch a pepino (pickle), let alone put that on briefs. I didn’t know how to explain to the 30 year-olds in front of me the sexual innuendo, and so I panicked and just said, “Oh, look! They glow in the dark!” They forgot about the definition and proceeded to put the pickle boxers up to their faces and cup their hands so they could see the glowing pickles. Crisis adverted, hilarity captured.
Two great meals with two great families. I hope one day I can have a repeat dinner with both my team and my host family here. I also hope I never have to explain what “tickle my pickle” means. Especially if it involves anything glow-in-the-dark.
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