Saturday, March 27, 2010

dill & pb, iron & rotisserie

Traveling to a new country is all about the give and take. You miss out on luxuries from back home, but you gain new luxuries in whatever place you land. A basic trade-off would be expensive fast food, but cheap steak. In all honesty, I prefer the latter option and I don't know one person that wouldn't agree.

Good coffee and bicycles for fresh fruit and cheap, comprehensive transit.

Dark music for tango.


For these reasons, the information I am about to share is necessary for any North American who wants to venture to Argentina for any prolonged period: I have never craved dill nor peanut butter the way I do now. The reason for my cravings is because I can't have it, or it is difficult to have it. Back home, I would occassionally nibble on some dill, usually satisfied by the odd Vlask, but here, here, I need it. As if a mission for pickles, or some sort of dill by-product, makes me travel to the ends of the universe -- being the other side of the city -- in search for a tiny bushel of eneldo. The Chinatown market sold-out. Of course. Because it's dillicious.

Peanut butter is also a rarity. Back home, maybe once a week, I would dip a spoon into an extra-crunchy and satisfy the craving until the next weekly dip. The peanut butter sweet and smooth, one spoon fills as a semi-meal. Here, nada mucho. In health foodstores they sell pb that is purely pureed peanuts. Although it has been sustaining me for the past 5 months, I still crave Kraft, despite the company's notorious reputation. In Bariloche, a girl had a jar of peanut butter that she got in Chile. I grabbed a spoon and for a moment was, as my comrade Maggy would say, "talking to God".

Nevertheless, these are minor luxuries when it comes to things that, ethically, account for more. Walking into a pharmacy, you don't need a prescription from a doctor for some pills. Now, I'm not talking about hard stuff, but I wanted pills of iron and it was the easiest thing to purchase. It did frighten me, slightly, reading the "Method of Dosage". It said to consult a physician, which is almost impossible to do quickly here, because you can overdose. Obvio, tonta, smacking my head. It's a metal. So, although I was impressed with the lack of bureaucracy around pharmaceuticals, I still need to see a doctor to be recommended a dosage. In Argentina: First prescription, then medical consultation. I see.

Another luxuriant mentionable is the way people do business here, for the most part. It is a rarity to find big-box stores and major corporations, although there are some. When you go to a rotiseria for some chicken, odds are that it won't be Swiss Chalet. What is amazing about small mom&pop shops is that they are usually run by mom&pop, not some pissed-off, hormonal teenager who wants to go home and hang-out with friends.

Last night, we ventured to the rotiseria to grab some chicken (because we are having beef tonight). The spot was closed, protective grate down, but the door was still open with the owner looking out onto the street. Maggy asked the man what times he closed at. He had been closed for nearly half-an-hour. Nevertheless, he asked what we wanted and we told him, "a whole chicken". Well, he had half a chicken but would throw in two chicken breasts. Come in, come in.

He unlocked the grate's tiny door and we ducked in. He closed the Alice In Wonderland-sized door and locked it, then loaded up a tray full of chicken, then came back around, unlocked the grate-door, wished as well and "No, no. Gracias a vos", and locked the rabbit-hole back up. If this was back home, this would not have happened.

Point of the many stories is I traded dill and pb for iron and chicken. It was the give and take that goes with changing cultures and countries. Some may enjoy their native culture so much and wish to stay. That I understand. For example, getting a doctor's appointment would be nice and, maybe at times, necessary. But, when it comes to the litte things, the food and drink things, the shopping and transport things, one shouldn't be bothered.

Instead, if it is truly an issue, stock-up or get boxes delievered. Noted.

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