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Why I cook and other revelations

19 Jun
Why I cook

Offering my 1st medialuna to the gods (you)

If you know me in real life, you are familiar with my crazy, anxious (some say overly-exaggerated and aggressive) personality. If you’ve ever cooked with me, you know that I’m one to bite if you get in my way, take the spoon out of your hand if you’re stirring wrong, and spank you if I feel like it. But you also know that I’m critical, demanding and hold myself and what I make to high standards and also very, very generous when it comes to feeding people carbs and sweet things.

I loved the idea of cooking from a young age. My mom had a huge red and white checkered Betty Crocker Cookbook. To me, it seemed like the bible, and I treated like that, reading through the recipes almost every day, drooling over the glossy photos; from pies to roast meats to canning fruits, this cookbook had it all. It was a revelation to me: this is how food is made! I never did try anything out, at that age, I liked the cookbooks, but cooking wasn’t my forte. Continue reading

Books to read in Spanish when you don’t read in Spanish

24 May

Books to read in Spanish when you don't read in SpanishI devour books. They are my salvation when riding the packed subte every morning. It’s incredibly easy to lose myself in the words and almost miss my stop because of it…I’ll admit that I’ve even cried once or twice while reading in the subte, somehow I always get to the sad parts when surrounded by strangers!

My Spanish isn’t amazing, I started learning late in life, and mostly just for conversation. But reading in Spanish is something I do good, sure I don’t understand everything, but if the book is good, sometimes you don’t need to understand every word.

Here are my top recommendations for books to read in Spanish (even if you think you don’t read in Spanish.)

1. El lector por Bernhard Schlink: The original version is in German, but I happened to have a copy of the Spanish translation and read it after having seen the movie, which helped a lot in understanding what was going on. This was actually the very first book that I read in Spanish, so it has a very special place in my heart ❤

2.Travesuras de la niña mala por Mario Vargas Llosa : Very long novel, but I couldn’t put it down. Love, betrayal, Paris, Peru…absolutely incredible. Continue reading

Bad American Diners in Buenos Aires

13 May
A real American diner

A real American diner, note the dear painting.

The classic American diner. Sometimes known as the “greasy spoon” and rightly so. There’s rarely anything gourmet in an American diner, even the best ones like Lou Mitchell’s in Chicago have greasy hashbrowns and fake, processed cheese. People don’t go to diners because they like the food, people go to diners because they have a sentimental value, they make you feel comforatble…something about those red vinyl booths and white ceramic coffee cups that just scream home-sweet-home. At least for me they bring back fond memories of pouring coffee after coffee at the Brady Street Pharmacy in Milwaukee (RIP…)

So why on earth is replicating diners such a fashionable thing in foreign countries? When I first started living abroad, I gobbled up any sliver of America I could…that meant hunting out a bagel place in Amersterdam, eating Dunkin’ Donuts in the Barcelona subway station, and, of the course, spending my precious Euros at the horribly cramped and dirty Breakfast in America…in Paris. Continue reading

Why I’m happier than you…and what you should do about it.

27 Mar

I’m happier than you. You may not know or realize it, but I am. Every morning I wake up and I say to myself : “hot damn, I’m one hell of a lucky bitch.”

Now, here’s why and what you can do about it…

5 Reasons I’m Happier than You

1) Grilled Pizza. I have the best recipe for it. You don’t. This pizza will kick the ass of any pizza that you may have thought was good when you were studying abroad for a semester in Italia.

Best Grilled Pizza Continue reading

How Not to Buy Strawberries in Buenos Aires

8 Oct

They say if it’s too good to be true, it probably is…but you never remember these helpful sayings at the right time! I found out the hard way that street vendors in Buenos Aires are not always to be trusted.

You see, every day I take the subway downtown to work and back home, every day I see the same illegal subway vendors: there’s the coffee  guy parked at the entrance of the subway who always greets me with an “hola hermosa!“, there’s the guy in the stairs selling DVDs who always is yelling at his children not to step on the merchandise, and then there are the fruit guys with the long plyboard tables sagging under the weight of whatever fruit is in season. I must admit, their prices are rather decent, often better than my usual vegetable seller. So the other day when I saw that a kilo of strawberries was only 10 pesos, I started having visions of all the amazing things I would be able to make with delicious, red strawberries.

So for the first time in my life, I approached the vendor and said “1 kilo of strawberries, please!” Except in Spanish, of course. I should have been alerted when instead of grabbing the beautiful strawberries on the top of the pile, he quickly starting shoveling strawberries from the side of the pile (where I couldn’t see them) into a bag. I should have known something was up when he turned his back to measure the strawberries, thus blocking the view of the scale. And I definitely should have said something when, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a few shiny coins on the scale and thought “hm! that’s a strange place to keep coins…hey wait-a…”, but it was too late, I’d handed over my ten pesos and he pushed the bag of strawberries in my hands and shooed me away. Strawberries in Buenos Aires Continue reading

The Truth About Living Abroad : 5 Things You Didn’t Expect, Part 2

12 Sep

In a previous post of The Truth About Living Abroad : 5 Things You Didn’t Expect, I discussed the dangers of losing your maternal language. In fact, there’s much more at stake than just the language you’ve spoken your entire life…what about your friends, family and loved ones? Do they love you enough love to you from a distance?

That’s right, the second danger of living abroad that no one ever talks to you about is: The loss of friends. I don’t mean to be so negative so early in a post, in fact I don’t feel this is a negative situation, it’s a very real and normal reaction to two (or more) people not being around each other constantly. Continue reading

5 Things to Do on a Long Weekend in Buenos Aires

22 Aug

We’ve had the unfortunate luck of being blessed with a long weekend on, what must be, the coldest weekend this year. I’m talking temperatures in the mid 40’s during the day…aka “Springtime in Wisconsin”…bbrrrrrrrr.

Normally, a frigid weekend like this would keep me inside, on the couch, watching re-runs of Sex and the City, but my poor little house, although it is cute and stylish (thanks to my decorating skills), only has two small, powerless heaters and 4 (yes, 4) doors that lead to a sunless patio, which often means that it’s warmer outside than in. So, Vic and I bundled up and headed it, in hopes of finding some warmth in Buenos Aires.

Summer in Buenos Aires

Dreaming of these summer days...

Here are some of the things we planned for this long weekend:

1) Rollerblading. At the Rosedaal in Palermo you can find several roller blade and bicycle rental places. We opted for the roller blades because you have to move a little bit more, thus working up a nice, hot sweat. At 13 pesos for 1/2 hour, or 20p for 1 hour, this is a great deal…if you don’t mind stuffing your feet into some roller blades that hundreds of people have already sweated in. Yes, that’s right….they don’t clean them afterwards…ew. Continue reading

The Truth About Living Abroad : 5 Things You Didn’t Expect

16 Aug

I often get strange comments from people back home, who apparently think that living abroad equates to being on a perma-vacation. A friend of mine once asked how I was liking Buenos Aires and I started ranting about the rain, and being poked by umbrellas in over-crowed and humid subway cars and my brand-new rainboots that leaked everytime I stepped in one of those toxic-looking city puddles….and the response “WOW! That sounds so amazing!” Mind you, this friend of mine is a very positive person, but honestly, living abroad doesn’t automatically make your life an enchanting fairy-tale. In fact, it can be a down-right pain-in-the-ass, and only the very brave (or very stupid) should embark on this journey.

I’ve compiled a list of 5 things you may not have known about living abroad, and that you might want to take into consideration before making any plans. I’ll be highlighting one each week, please feel free to comment if you have your own ideas!

Number 1: Loss of language

The Culprit

Many people these days are moving abroad in order to have that “total immersion experience” in a foreign language. I can vouch for the fact that living in a foreign country will speed up the process of mastering foreign language X, and will also allow you to speak more naturally and avoid sounding like you’ve learned everything from a text book.

But what those Study Abroad brochures don’t tell you is that you will probably, very likely, lose your native language. Not all of it silly, but after a good, solid invasion on foreign language X, you’ll notice that certain words just stop showing up when you need them. You might even start speaking incorrectly, using strange grammatical structures or translating phrases from your new language. My mom always makes fun of me when I say “You have to profit from the fact that you’re on vacation!” In my mind, “profit” has come to mean “take advantage of.”

The first time I noticed that I was losing my English was a cold, autumn night in Soissons, France. I was walking down a dark, cobble-stoned alley with a fellow American friend and we were discussing, for some reason, facial hair. I turned to my friend and said, “I really don’t mind facial hair too much, but I can’t stand a dirty moustache.” When I said the word “moustache”, I knew something was wrong….it came out sounding like a cow : moooo-stache. I stopped and grabbed my friend’s arm: “What did I just say? How do you pronounce that word? Is it maw-stasshe, moo-stach, muh-stach-e??”

Every combination of vowels we tried sounded foreign and misplaced. We calmed down a bit, “Ok, let’s try this again – we’ll say it very naturally, as if we were in the US and never had spoke a word a French.”

“So, what do you think about moo-stasshh-ezz?”

“I can appreciate a nicely-kempt muh-sta-ch-uh…”

We looked at each other knowingly…this would be the first in a long line of linguistic mishaps.

A difference of opinions…or worse?

25 Jul

I was doing my usual Monday morning blog catch-up today and I started to think about a serious issue: in this small world of Buenos Aires expats bloggers, there seems to be a difference of opinions, especially when it comes to food. I tend to think that bad food is a given, if I go to X restaurant and have a horrible time, I imagine that everyone else will too.

So, I was suprised when reading “Pick up the Fork”, whose opinion on food I usually respect, give a raving review of Magdalena’s Party. Truth be told, I wasn’t all that impressed with the place, and found it rather greasy and normal tasting.

Or how about the fact that over at My.Beautiful.Air, the Palermo Hollywood restaurant Bio was given a great review, when in fact it’s over-priced for the B-O-R-I-N-G cardboard they try to pass off as food (in my opinion of course).

There can only be one answer folks: the quality at restaurants in Buenos Aires is INCONSISTENT! I have come to believe this as the ultimate truth.

How else would it be possible that just a few weeks ago I swore up and down that I would never eat at another restaurant again unless it was Social Paraiso, and when I went last Saturday, I left thinking “meh.” I mean c’mon guys! The crême brulée had the consistency of under-cooked scrambled eggs!! Give me a break!!

So what are we supposed to do as consumers? Complain? Go on strike? I feel lost in sea of potentially good restaurants gone bad…

A Dark, Warm Place to Hide

21 Jul
 I’ve hesitated for a long time about creating my own blog. “What do I have to say to all those people out there?” I would ask myself.
You see, I’m afraid of writing. I go around and around in circles about what to write about, always coming up with new ideas, never acting upon them, and finally tossing them out as rubbish.
So, here I go. I’m going to just jump into the water. I’m going to share with all of you my knowledge. (Truth is, I’m a bit of a know-it-all, it’s a side-effect from being the youngest child.)
I want to share my recipes, my opinions on restaurants and businesses in Buenos Aires, my favorite places to travel and my love for cats.
Please feel free to join the conversation…it can get lonely in this warm, dark place!
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