Sunday, August 30, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
In the end what I find most surprising about our conversation is that our family isn't more obese...
To the pride and joy of the resident Colombian, one of the requested recipes was the ever-present rice that comes with the territory of sharing a kitchen with a Colombian. Any Colombian household I've ever been in (outside of the U.S.) always has a pot of rice on the stove, and accompanies every meal. They even serve rice with pasta-- not pasta as in broken up pasta cooked in the rice, pilaf-style-- but pasta as in a portion of pasta, accompanied with a hefty side of rice. I might not go so much for that combination, nor am I accustomed to eat so much white rice, but I can't deny that it's delicious, especially the bottom of the rice that gets all crusty and browned, called el pegado (the stuck part) (how great is it that it has its own proper name?) On top of all that it's dead easy to make, which is great given that the recipe was requested by someone who normally lives off canned beans and grated cheese.
I will thus leave it to Max to give you the recipe, along with his account of his time here. The other requested recipe, one for lentils with potatoes and caramelized onions that happens to go fantastically with the rice, will be posted soon for our august traveller.
lucidity for me is not conducive to expression. in fact i think this
principle is true more generally for anyone reading this blog as we
are in this zeit (generation? era? i don´t know the exact meaning of
the german so i use it hoping that noone else does either) perpetually
self-conscious, and not only self-conscious, and as we know lack of
sleep relieves at least the first. it is, then, with burning eyes,
moderate zeal, and less sleep (6 AM!) that i attempt to describe my
stay in buenos aires.
i have for the most part stayed within close bounds in argentina, i
came to visit my sister rather than tour the city and i´m content
(more, happy) to spend my time with eva and her almost uniformly
colombian friends. this does however mean that i have spoken to few
argentines (in pidgin spanish, complete with exaggerated "yo"s
pronounced as "joe") and seen little of the city. however i might
venture some thoughts:
first, the city is not beautiful. coming from the airport it looks
like the prototypical third world slum, although surprisingly (for me)
the quality and upkeep of the buildings increases as we approach the
inner parts of the city. the streets are dirty, with discarded plastic
bags and food containers littering the street; more bothersome is the
quantity of dog refuse that peppers the sidewalk with breaks of less
than a block between obstacles. eva has said that the city has fine
older architecture but as i´m sure most of you know i don´t notice
these things being a cultureless nouveau-riche-grade abomination.
furthermore, argentines as a people have a reputation that might
charitably be described as undesirable. the men are supposed to be
lecherous, sexually aggressive, well dressed, and possessing few other
qualities of note. the women are (i am told) dramatic, fickle, and
beautiful and posess a well-developed defensive posture to fend off the instantaneous
(somehow all observers, however relative, agree here)
advances of the men. my interactions with women have not
exhibited this but i have only talked to eva´s argentine friends or
working people so none of this characterization applies as these are
not situations in which romantic interaction is possible. what does it
say about a city (country?) that the main descriptors of its people
annoyances: coin currency is the required tender for bus rides (in
operation 24 hours and the most convenient way to travel) and i'm sure
other essential services, but there is, amazingly to foreigners
including me and seemingly everyone not born in buenos aires, a
perpetual shortage of said coins. the drain on the coin supply would
not of course pose a problem in a sane country, but the government
refuses to mint more coins. this has the effect of driving the worth
of a coin beyond its face value; i am told that bus companies
illegally sell coins to local businesses at 1.5 times their value. the
reason for this clearly unnecessary arrangement is said to be
government kickbacks; so a city of bus passengers must hoard their
monedas to enrich a few (i actually have no idea how many)
the food is not great. i take eva's word that most of the vegetarian
argentine cuisine is mediocre but i do like empanadas. i can´t of
course sample the famous meat culture that buenos aires has to offer.
i am spared, luckily, the task of finding decent food myself: eva and
felipe cook and i try to help out. i have a newfound constant craving
for colombian rice; please find attached a recipe so that the reader
can make it for me.
1 cup plain white rice
2 cups water
3 green onions
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon oil
chop up onions, put in pot with oil; saute onions for a couple minutes,
then put in DRY rice. add more oil. saute for a couple more minutes. put in
water and salt, let sit until half the water has evaporated on VERY LOW
heat. once it has, stir a little and put on top. another 10 minutes,
stirring every couple minutes, then ready.
what else does one wish to know about a city? writing this, my
impression seems highly unfavorable, and in fact the most describable
aspects of the city find poor evaluation in my mind. but i think that
i would like to live here or perhaps felipe's alluring colombia. i`ve
had, thanks entirely to eva and felipe, a great time here. eva's group
of friends shows me that even in a city of seemingly (per my earlier
remarks) disagreeable people, colombians can be found; they are
apparently my (and eva's) people. the music scene is lively, the
weather sometimes smoggy but mostly agreeable, and the education,
health care, etc free.
o fate, how dost thou tempt me...but taking one, two years abroad and
perhaps even completing a master's degree (!) do indeed constitute and
direct a life. of course consequences are never foreseeable and living
in minneapolis i might next month be spotted in a crowd and selected
to be a japanese fashion model. so ignore what i've just written and
embrace apathy and fatalism like me. is it better to believe that we
have control over our lives or to accept the truth that every minute
action we commit has the potential to dramatically change our lives?
we of course have a small amount of ability: i can choose to pass or
fail my classes next semester. but everything we do is subject to the
principle so obnoxiously known as the butterfly effect.
digression over, i think, along with this blog post. good night
(morning) unless i still can`t manage to fall asleep. i suspect that
the tea i drank before bed had more than a little caffeine.