Thursday, April 30, 2009

I just watched the trailer!!!

Watch it here. Now. It looks SO GOOD.

I can't stop watching it. It makes me tingle.


Clark just skyped to tell me that there is a new movie coming out this summer (August 7th, to be exact, 99 days from now, I already started the count down) about JULIA CHILD. YES. JULIA CHILD. PLAYED BY MERYL STREEP.
The movie is based on the blog turned book Julie & Julia, written by a young New Yorker who cooks her way through the entire Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year. Yep. 365 days, 524 recipes. Holy moly. And you know what's crazy? I just finished reading the Julie/Julia book. My friend Molly loaned it to me here after I was talking about how much I love Julia Child and how I've read two auto/biographies of her and can't get enough. The movie also includes stuff from My Life in France, Julia's memoir she wrote with her nephew. That I received as a Christmas present this year, and read of winter break. So how about that?!

So excited. 99 days. Julia, Julia, Julia. I am giddy.

Recipes for memories: ceviche, hauncaína, tallerines con pollo

I’m fairly certain that everyone who reads my blog already knows about my experiences in Peru (or at least that I’ve been there), but if there’s any other creepers reading who don’t, I’ll just start this post by saying that I LOVE Peru. So much so that I even tattooed my love for Peru on my foot. No, it doesn’t say “I heart Peru” or “MK+PERU4EVA” or anything, just a symbol of my time there stamped onto the top of my right foot. My month in Peru was my first trip out of the country by myself, my first real adventure, the first time I realized how much I love Latin American culture, language, food, music, history… all of that. I can’t help but compare every other Latin American country I visit to Peru. So when I arrived in Buenos Aires, a city that seems to value everything non-Latin American, I was just ever so slightly heartbroken. Most of this disappointment came from my tummy. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Argentine food does not have flavor. Yes, there is great quality beef. Yes, the produce is fresh and beautiful. But when cooked to death in a pan with glugs of canola oil and handfuls of salt, quality beef and beautiful veggies turn into blaaaah. And slapping it between paper thin slices of crustless bread does nothing to help the matter. Argentina is not the place to find rice and beans with a fried egg on top. And imported Tobasco sauce is considered “extrapicante”. Pah-lease. So why am I complaining again about tasteless porteño food? Because, yesterday I took another cooking class at Casa Saltshaker. And not just any class. A class on Peruvian cooking. Heeellll yesssss.

Ooooh it was glorious. Fancy chef Dan completely and totally won back his fancy chef reputation in my mind and belly. Dan’s boyfriend is Peruvian and these are his family’s recipes, if you’re wondering how this NYC chef came to be teaching a Peruvian cooking class in Buenos Aires. Apparently he also has a long-time student who was interested in learning Peruvian food, so he’s been cooking this stuff up for a while.

We used hot peppers (my left hand was still tingling last night as I feel asleep because I didn’t wash the pepper oils off well enough after all the chopping I did)! cilantro! garlic! lime! All the fabulous flavor combos I remember from Peru, all intensified by the fact that I haven’t tasted spice in too long (besides the Marie Sharp’s habanero sauce that came in my box of love). We made three dishes: ceviche, ají de gallina, y pollo con tallarines. All were absolutely deeelicious! I even learned how to cut up a whole chicken! COOL. So here’s the low down on these Peruvian classics. I will definitely be making these when I’m back home!

I know a lot of people aren’t that into ceviches, but I love them! And I think the fact that you can “cook” raw fish in salt and lime is pretty kick ass. We made a really classic ceviche: white fish (we used abadejo: pollack) marinated in lots of lime juice and just the right amount of salt. Then once the fish is “cooked” after 30-40 minutes marinating in the lime, you take it out of the lime juice (but add a little back in), throw in some thinly sliced red onion, rocoto pepper (a mild chili pepper… remove the seeds!), chopped cilantro, garlic, and some ginger. So fresh and cool and fabulous!

The two chicken dishes both won over my hungry belly, but the pollo con tallarines won my heart. For non hispanohablantes, pollo is chicken and tallarines just means linguini. But the sauce we made was increíble! Thick and meaty itself, but just veggies! It went perfectly with the chicken marinated in smoky ají panca roja (dried peppers). MOM! Make this, I think you’ll like it!

For the sauce:

1 Tbs olive oil

1 ½ cups peeled and finely grated carrots

1 ½ cups minced or grated onion

1 ½ cups finely diced tomato

1 ½ cups red wine

1 tsp pimentón rojo (similar to paprika)

½ tsp ground cumin

2-3 dried bay leaves (optional)

salt+pepper to taste

The onions and carrots should really be very finely grated/chopped because you want them to basically dissolve or like, mush down in the sauce. Sounds weird but it’s a great texture. First sauté the carrots in the oil with a little salt until they are soft and just starting to turn golden in color. Add the onions, pimentón, and cumin and continue cooking and stirring regularly until the mixture is dark golden in color. The liquid will have evaporated and it looks like a coarse paste. Then add the tomatoes and bay leaves and cook until the tomatoes fall apart and the liquid has evaporated again. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Continue to cook until the sauce is fairly thick.

Now, add the chicken. We used the wings, thighs, and legs (mostly all the skin removed, but left on the bone), of a chicken that I cut up! Yes! I butchered a whole chicken and then enjoyed my handiwork doused in two different sauces… sorry, but I was psyched to have learned how! Cook the sauce and chicken over medium-high heat until the chicken is lightly browned on the outside, then cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Let it all simmah down now until the chicken is cooked. Season with salt n’ peppa to taste. Don’t forget to take out the bay leaves if you used them.

Oh right, some time during all that cook up a pot of pasta, the linguini worked nicely, but anything would do. Then serve it in a big ass bowl, family style, steaming and wonderful.

Ok, Mama? Or maybe I’ll make it for you when I get home. How about that?

And the yum doesn’t stop there!! Oh no! One more dish to go! For this one we used the breasts of the chicken that I cut up and lots of yellow chili peppers!

What you need:

Chicken breasts

4-5 yellow chilies (they give it a really bright, creamy yellow color)

fresh farmer’s cheese

a few hunks of stale bread


milk or cream

garlic, onion, olive oil

First thing is to remove most of the seeds and veins from some fresh ají amarillo (the more seeds you leave in, the spicier it is). Then boil the chilies in water until soft. In another pan, boil the two chicken breasts until they’re cooked through but soft enough to shred.

When the chilies are soft, take them off the heat, peel them and throw them in a blender. Everything added to the blender from this point on is “to taste”. Add to the peppers: some fresh cheese (like a white farmer’s cheese), some chunks of stale bread to thicken it (I feel like this could be left out, but I don’t know…), and a handful of walnuts. Whir it up and add some milk while it’s blending until you have a thick smooth puree. This sauce is called a salsa huancaína. It’s also the base for another classic Peruvian sauce called ocopa. To make ocopa you blend in a handful of huacatay leaves (Amazon Black Mint… available in the states?) Did I mention how much I love the sound of Quechua words?

Alright, almost there. Sautee some garlic and white onion in olive oil until translucent, then add the blended sauce and continue cooking for a few minutes. Then add the shredded chicken and give it a few stirs, turn the heat down low and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally.

DEVOUR IT! Usually with some rice or potatoes. MMmmm. Peruvian memories spilling aaaall over this dish.

I finally incorporated some persimmon into my dinner tonight. And it was really good. I think I prefer eating them in a savory dish to eating them raw like hand fruit. Though I haven’t tried a dessert with them yet, so who knows! Tonight I made an eggplant, chick pea, persimmon curry. I started out sautéing up some onion in olive oil and then added my Chinatown curry powders that I had toasted a bit in a hot pan. Learned that trick on the Cook’s Illustrated website (yes, that’s right, like Sports Illustrated but for kitchen nerds). To that I added a can of chick peas and let them get a little crusty before adding the chopped eggplant, persimmon, and a bit of tomato paste. Also a bit of water to get it stewin and bubblin, and some Marie because I wasn’t sure how much kick my curries had. Little salt and pepper and I just let it bubble away while I made some tortilla chips from the mini flour tortillas Celeste brought home when I asked if they had sandwich wraps here. The chips were actually delicious! Just got some oil nice and hot in the pan, rubbed a little garlic on the tortillas, cut them into chip shapes, and fried them in the oil until they were nice and crispy. Perfect dinner. I am happy.

To be honest, maybe just 2 weeks ago, I could not say I was happy here. I was having some good times and great adventures, but I was constantly anxious, uncomfortable with myself, and just all around out of it. I thought really hard about talking to someone, like a therapist or some other person of similar occupation about how weird and crappy and not myself I had been feeling here. But now that I’m cooking entirely for myself I am busier and happier and my money is much better spent on cooking classes and groceries. It’s incredible to me how much just being able to cook, to think about what I want to cook, to go to the markets, and to eat something healthy and delicious that was all my doing has improved my well-being and confidence. I just love to cook. And I think it’s a lot healthier than loving to bake… though I truly can’t wait to be back with my oven and my kitchen aid again. In a moment of weakness, this is where I found myself:

In my pjs, on my bed, eating crackers and creamed honey and looking at stand mixer product comparisons on Cook’s Illustrated. Yikes. But hey, it’s better than a crack habit, right?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hold the miga...

...but what is miga?
This is miga. (I did not take this picture, I found it on this blog, of a miga-lover.)
Believe it or not, this is a sandwich. Argentina's favorite sandwich, in fact. What's in there? 3 thin slices of white bread (no crust) with one slice of ham and one slice of tasteless orangy cheese, separated by the middle piece of bread. Oh, and mayonnaise. The mayo is the thickest layer of the sandwich.

Miga FAQs?
What does miga taste like? Nothing. Well, not nothing. It kind of tastes like a ham flavored angle food cake with mayonnaise frosting.
Where can I get me some miga? Everywhere. Super/Maxikioskos are big purveyors of miga, where it sits for days in the refrigerators that don't quite fit into the kiosk space (the grander the prefix, the small the kiosk). Miga can even be found in the nicest corner café, but it is still the exact same thing. It is also the standard fare for 15-hour-bus meals. Packed in a styrofoam tray alongside a bun with ham and cheese on the side, a packet of mayonnaise, and 2 alfajores.
Why doesn't it have crust? Since elementary school, I have pondered the strange behaviors of my peers who requested the crust be sliced off their sandwiches. To me, the crust is the best part. The crustier the better, I say. Don't even get me started on Uncrustables. Actually now that I think about it, I bet Uncrustables were invented by an Argentine miga lover. I think they use the same "bread". Anyways, the image of miga in my mind got even worse the day I saw a woman walking down the street with two blocks of miga bread under her arms. Yeah, blocks of crustless white bready stuff, bigger than a shoe box. Just a big 'ol block of miga.
Why are Argentines devoted to miga? It's cheap. It has ham and cheese and mayonnaise. If you want to find success in Argentina, just find a way to incorporate these 4 things into whatever endeavor you choose.

These are my thoughts on miga. Now I'm going to spend a long time, trying not to think about it. Happy lunching, America.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Mom wins!

Of course she does. My mama knows everything!
They're persimmons. And the Spanish word for them is caquis, which must be the cause for the cactus confusion. After a little google-ing, or "moogle-ing" as some of my Smith friends would say, (we like to personalize our google-ings... Becky boogles, Jae joogles, Meera moogles, and if I wanted to get really ambitious I could m'koogle) I found a bit more about this creamy orange tomato type thing currently ripening on my bedside table. The ones I bought are called fuyu persimmons, which seem to be much more agreeable than their sisters, the hachiya persimmons. People were talkin a lot of smack about the hachiyas and how they have to be perfectly ripe to enjoy them. Fuyus sound a lot more chill. And I dig their colors. Reminds me of my old room at 463 Central St... earthy green and bright shiny orange. I foresee a future for me and the fuyu. The texture is really distinct... kind of like a papaya, ish? Kind of creamy, and not too sweet. But they're only grown on the west coast it seems, mostly California and Oregon. That must be why I've never seen them before. Just another reason to head towards Portland...
So what am I going to do with my persimmons? persimmon? Is it one of those singular AND plural words? Or do I add the s? I found a recipe online that I just happen to have all the makings for... so maybe I'll try it out for dinner tomorrow. 

OK. I'm going to work on my research paper. Now. I got this. [insert grimace here].

A prize goes to...

...whoever can tell me what these are...?
Bought them at the market this morning, for the sole reason that I had never seen them before. I asked my fruit man, but I'm pretty sure he said cactus, so, uuuhI'm still confused.

Don't have have to tell you what THESE are...
...but I do have to tell you they cost less than 1$US. Points for BsAs!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Some times...

Sometimes I make fresh squeezed OJ.

Sometimes I stumble across super cute organic grocer/cafes...

...and sometimes there is total desayuno destruction. Bran muffins 4 life. mmmm

Natural Deli, Gorostiaga 1776

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Here is the reason I don't do my homework:

Literally. I read this blog when I wake up, in between classes, when I'm procrastinating, before I go to sleep. I don't know what I'm going to do when I finish reading through the archives. Maybe I'll actually get stuff done. Maybe.
I don't even remember how I came across the Little Red Bike Cafe blog. But it's so much fun to read and look at their pictures. My mouth waters as I scroll down the page. Many a trip to Persicco has been demanded by descriptions of their homemade ice cream: caramelized pear... Mexican chocolate... lavender and lemon curd... peanut butter & jelly for Christ's (as in President Carol T.) sake! Not that Persicco could possibly compare, but you know, you make do with what you got. 
Whoooaaah am I a freak for worshipping LRBC without even having been there? But it just looks that good. Yeah.  So clearly I'm already trying to figure out how to get to Portland, OR so I can go there for real and not just be a nerd and read their blog.  A few days ago I asked Clark if he had ever been to Portland. "No." he told me, and then mentioned a college friend who lived out there. He then kindly informed me of our summer plans, or rather, late summer/early fall 2010 to be exact, to drive from Portland, ME to Portland OR. Sounds good to me. As long as we can stop at the Smithsonian on the way and see Julia Child's kitchen. Done. So LRBC, I'll see you in 2010, probably some time in late fall. Until then, my mouth is watering for bread pudding and ice cream...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Panqueques Americanos

I made these this afternoon after yoga. Had to make up for the fact that I am missing one of the most American days ever (it's B&J's Free Cone Day AND 50 cent Dunkin Donuts Iced Coffee Day) with pancakes. Oh, and you know, just happened to have some honey, bananas, and walnuts hanging around... so I might as well make it a feast.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Delicious things.

Since I can't stream NPR in BsAs, my main way of staying connected to what's going on in the world is by reading the headlines on The New York Times: Global Edition web page. I set it as my homepage so even if I don't feel like making an effort to be a good, worldly citizen, at least some of the planet's goings on confront me every morning. Today, one of the featured columns was about recipes for healthy cooking. The Times has a column called Recipes for Health written by a Ms. Martha Rose Shulman, and this week, readers can post questions for her and she'll respond on the website. So I was scrolling through some of the questions, but when I came to this one, I just stopped dead in my tracks:

If flavor and aroma were not a factor what should one eat for optimum health?

-- Paul Silver

Let's all just have a moment of silence for Paul Silver and pray that he lost his olfactory capacities in a horrific freak accident. Otherwise, I just can't understand why anyone would even attempt eating anything at all sans taste or smell. Eat ice, Paul Silver. Or protein powder mixed with water. Hell, just swallow a handful of multivitamins 3 times a day.

I spent my morning in the kitchen of a closed-door home-style restaurant taking a cooking class from an award winning New York chef/sommelier. Paul Silver probably spent his google-ing how many calories there are in seltzer.

Forgetting Paul Silver for a while, I'll tell you about my cooking class. It was a vegetarian class, though really it was just 4 dishes without meat. To me, vegetarian cooking is about finding innovative, flavorful ways to incorporate different proteins into a few dishes that add up to a complete meal. But we didn't really do much in the way of innovation. We just didn't use any meat. So, the 4 dishes were as follows: Fennel with figs scented with bay leaf and cinnamon, Whole wheat langanelli with sauteed cauliflower, Brussel sprout soup, and Swiss chard pastilla. Don't get me wrong. The food was good and it was fun to be in the kitchen in a small group (just 3 students and Dan, the chef), but I did leave thinking critically of what we made and how we made it.

Fennel with Figs. The first thing that bothered me about this recipe was that it required three separate ways of cooking the fennel. First, it was boiled. Then, it was browned. And then it was baked. Just seemed a little overkill to me, especially for a dish that didn't really reflect the amount of work and machinery that went into it. And I think the fennel itself couldn't even figure out what it was supposed to taste or look like. It had the texture of a boiled vegetable, plus a barely there crust from the brief browning. And I think the time in the oven just added to the confusion. The fig part, though was great and not as sweet as I thought it would be. I've never cooked with fresh figs before and I think I'll definitely try and use them again in some other kind of dish. So, this dish was alright. But I think I'll stick with Mom's stellar roasted fennel.

Whole Wheat Langanelli with Sauteed Cauliflower. Turns out langanelli is just a fancy word for trapezoid-shaped pasta. Apparently it's related to the word "mal fatti" or "misformed". I didn't particularly enjoy this shape, and I think I'll leave my whole grains out of the pasta bowl. I just prefer regular old, white flour pasta, and as long as you don't eat it every night that's just fine. One thing I definitely have learned here (from Celeste, from this class, and from the crazy Italian man who has a pasta making show on the Argentine version of Food Network) is that it's insanely easy to make your own fresh pastas, and I think that's something I'd like to continue doing back home. So the pasta was fine, but the cauliflower was AWESOME. Definitely one of the highlights of the meal. Just some onions sauteed in olive oil, plus rosemary and red pepper flakes. Sautee the cauliflower til it's nice and brown and then turn down the heat and cover the pan until it's soft all the way through. The cauliflower didn't turn to mush, and it was nice and smoky from the browning and the rosemary. I will definitely cook that part of the dish again!

Brussel Sprout Soup. My favorite dish from today and the first soup I've had since leaving Mom's chili and pea soup far away on Piper Lane. The best part was that today was such a soup day too. It was probably not even 60 F when I left my apartment this morning, and there was a crisp breeze all day. It's finally getting to be "winter" down here. So this recipe was fabulous, and the brussel sprouts just started coming in last week so it was very seasonal. We started by learning to make vegetable stock which is incredible simple and wonderful and a skill I will bring back to the kitchen at home. Then we just sauteed onion added the brussel sprouts, carrot, veggie stock, a bit of "leftover" white wine (what? leftover wine? never heard of such a thing), and some salt+pepper and let it simmer until everything was cooked through. Then we pureed it all (which I'm usually not that into, but it totally worked since brussel sprouts can't really be bite sized without falling completely apart) and sprinkled a little parsley on top. YUM.

Swiss Chard Pastilla. I'll just lay it out there... sorry fancy chef Dan, but my spinach pie that I adapted from the recipe in Barefoot Contessa easily beats out your version. The swiss chard we used was also a little overgrown, in my opinion, so I tasted a bit of that chalky, bitter aftertaste you get from overgrown chard. This was just your basic phyllo dough crust + greens and pine nuts, you know, that kind of thing. The way to make it a real vegetarian dish (and a real TASTY dish, to me, at least) is to bind the filling with an egg and throw some feta or ricotta in there! Today's version just ended up being some sort of soggy greens with some interspersed pine nuts and raisins encased in some crispy phyllo. Oh well. I did learn a good trick though, for making sure the bottom of the phyllo doesn't get gummy... when you take the dish out of the oven, throw it on top of the burner for 2-3 minutes and it will crisp up the bottom. Also makes it easier to get out of the pan. So, thanks for the tip! It'll just make my recipe even better!

Despite my critiques, this morning was a blast. I did learn some new skills and tips and it's also a good feeling to realize that I know my way confidently around the kitchen and do a pretty great job. I'm looking forward to another class with Dan next Monday on Peruvian cooking, so I'm hoping to learn some things I've never tried before!

Thanks Mom and Pop for teaching me how to enjoy preparing and eating food. If only Paul Silver had been fortunate enough to have a family like mine...

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Forgot to mention I went to Uruguay on Friday. It was lovely, relaxing, and just a ferry ride away. Pictures here, along with some from Mar del Plata, the area around my university, and Mendoza.

These are a few of my favorite things...

Mom says the blog is boring since I haven’t posted in weeks, so it’s her fault I’m writing this instead of doing homework!

Since I’ve returned from my week away in the west of Argentina (pictures of the trip to San Juan and Mendoza are here) things in BA have been pretty rosy! The time away from the city was perfect: we strolled through the moonscape desert of Parque Nacional Ischigualasto, pushed our car across a dried out lake bed in Leoncito, gave a nod to those Andes that separate us from Chile (Andes and lake bed pictured above), and sipped Malbec at a bodega familiar in Mendoza. While I headed back to the city with still a bit of reservation, this week has been wonderful. I’ve stayed pretty close to home in Belgrano, acclimating myself to city life again. So here is a list of some wonderful places, restaurants, and people I have found in this city so far. And may I continue to make more and more lovely discoveries!

Favorite neighborhood:

Belgrano. Of course! Now that I’ve lived here for about 2 months (63 days to be exact) I am so comfortable in my barrio. Sure, I still love the old architecture and bohemian scene of San Telmo, but Belgrano has truly won my heart. One of the best things about Belgrano is that there’s really no tourist presence besides the scattered university students. Since it’s such a trek from el centro, Belgrano is not really mentioned in the guide books. It maintains a real relaxed, family vibe, since it’s a mostly middle-class neighborhood and there’s a ton of schools.

Favorite Ice Cream:

Persicco. While good, hard American ice cream still reigns supreme in my mind (just ask Clark—I’m still trying to get him to bring a cooler full of Ben & Jerry’s as his carry on when he comes to visit in July) the best Argentine helado I have tried in BA is definitely at Persicco. Persicco has 4 locations around the city, but I’m pretty sure the one in Belgrano is the best. On the corner of Juramento y Cuba, it is right in front of the Plaza Belgrano, which fills up on weekends with a funky crafts market. The café has a great terrace on the second floor that overlooks the plaza and the Redondo, the huge domed roof of the beautiful church next door.

It’s got wireless internet and offers a full café menu so it’s a nice place to study too. My favorite flavors so far are Chocolate Amargo (bitter chocolate) with Dulce de Leche Casero con Brownie. Considering the fact that I don’t even like actual dulce de leche, I think my devotion to Persicco’s ice cream version is remarkable. Persicco is a little expensive, but totally worth it. And before mom sent my trusty French press and a pound of ground coffee, it was the only place where I could find an America-sized mug of plain black coffee.

Favorite Pizza:

Burgio Pizzeria on Cabildo y Monroe. This is real, Argentine style pizza. Thick, fluffy crust loaded with an inch thick layer of gooey cheese (broiled and crunchy on top), and topped with things like onion, tomato and spices, or ham and cheese (of course). This is not a snack. This is lunch AND dinner. And it’s soooo good. I went to Burgio for the first time this weekend, drawn in by the crowd of middle-aged men eating their slices while standing up at the counter in the front. When I tried to stand and order my slice, I was ushered towards an area with tables and chairs where all the other women were seated. This place really is a time warp! Two slices and two beers later, I left with a buzz, a full belly, and the fortitude to walk both off. Coincidentally, I ended up walking to Persicco. I just seem to end up there... every day...

Favorite place to grocery shop:

La Calle Juramento. All my favorite shops are on this street, and it’s just 3 blocks from my apartment. There’s Verde Brote, the natural foods store that sells dried fruits, vegetables, beans, some spices, canned black beans (which are truly a novelty in this city) and tostito style corn chips (for the celiacs, remember?). A block up from there is the Feriado Modelo Belgrano, and indoor market style place with butchers, fresh fish, veggie stands, some prepared foods, and a kick-ass place that has all sorts of imported cheeses. One of the veggie guys even sells all different kinds and colors of Andean potatoes! Great place, but they close at 13hs and open back up at 18hs, which can be a heartbreaker if you forget. Just a few steps away is the COTO, which after a rocky start to our relationship, is now my grocery store of choice. The first time I went I was short on cash so I stocked up on a few more things and tried to use the credit card. Turns out you need your passport to use a credit card in the COTO, so they turned me down and I stormed out. But now that I know, I always bring cash and it always has good prices and mostly everything in stock.

Favorite yoga studio:

Fundación Indra Devi. I’m pretty sure this place, mostly my instructor, Norma, is saving me here in BA. After my first class with her, Norma gave me a huge, warm hug. It made me realize I had not been hugged since I left my parents at security in the Providence airport. Now I get Norma hugs 3 times a week! The classes are wonderful; I stretch and twist alongside women of all ages and abilities. The studio has such a relaxed, unpretentious vibe, unlike the “bougie”, new-age place I checked out in Palermo. And it’s been there since 1988 so it’s well-loved, lived in, and the instructors know what they’re doing.

Favorite subway stop:

Jose Hernandez on the D-line. This is where I get off when I’m headed home and tired, usually on Thursdays after a full day of class. Usually, I get off at the Juramento stop so I get a bit more of a walk in on my way home. But I like Jose, because around midday there’s always a reggae band just hanging out, playing all afternoon. There’s also this really random display case supposedly to show off BsAs culture, but it’s always ironically empty. Hm.

Favorite colectivo:

The 67. I pick it up right on Avenida Cabildo, the main street that runs 4 blocks from my apartment. For those of you coming to visit me, the 67 will most likely be gloriously transformed into Mary Kate’s low-budget BsAs bus tour!!! Well, if I have enough monedas to spare, of course. I take the 67 to my Castellano class up on Castex in Palermo, and some times to the center too. It runs down Sarmiento and Libertador, the streets that line the Palermo parks and botanical gardens, and goes right past the Malba (favorite museum) and the big metal flower structure that opens and closes every day. Then it heads down to el centro, parallel to 9 de Julio, right by the obelisk. What a ride.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


PACKAGE RECEIVED! Thank you family, everything is perfect and it was totally worth the airport/customs madness. I love you

Off to San Juan! Be back in a week...

Monday, April 6, 2009


Cost of necessary UPS customs documents: $89 pesos
Trips to and from the airport: $192 pesos
Tears shed: 1 1/2 (did my best to contain myself)
Times the words "ridiculous" and "stupid" have crossed my mind (in reference to Argentine customs and myself): 1,857,349
Persicco Ice cream to comfort myself: $14 pesos
Getting a care package from my family: priceless.

So I didn't get my package on Saturday. Or today. But it's alright. I am adopting a very peaceful attitude towards this whole process, and it's going to work out. Today I didn't get it because I did not have my original passport; I only had the photocopy. So that was truly me just not thinking about how I need my original to do everything else in this country, so I would probably need it to get something from customs. My B. Try again tomorrow.

Maybe it's all the yoga I've been doing that's letting me relax about this.
Or maybe it's the ice cream.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Camera is safe and sound, no longer enjoying its time alone at the beach in Mar del Plata. I think this signifies a change in luck for me... 
Tomorrow I will return to the airport via the correct way (not the 2 hour colectivo on dirt roads) and customs will be open (not closed and abandoned) so I will be able to bring my package home (and not come home defeated and without hot sauce).
Tuesday I will finally complete all my Visa requirements and not have to deal with Argentine government offices for a long time. Then, I will get on a bus with my two best girl friends and head to San Juan and Parque Nacional Ischigualastu for about a week. We have no idea what to expect, but we will be together and it will be an adventure!

And I will have my camera to capture it all!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

um, OM!

When I was a little younger, tagging along to my mom’s yoga classes, or doing yoga in the living room with Dixie Carter and that other blonde woman in the white unitard, or with Rodney Yee who had a ponytail and did yoga in a speedo on a deserted beach, I was always nervous when it came time to chant Om three times at the beginning and end of class. I never did it, or sometimes I would only do it really quietly—barely a whisper. And if there was one really tone-deaf person in the class whose Om wasn’t quite hitting the right note, I would snigger to myself.  I don’t remember the first time I “Om-ed” without reservation, but since then I’ve never looked back. I LOVE to Om. My Om is loud and deep and round. I like to feel it vibrate in my chest and throat, and watch it spill out of my mouth like warm, white smoke from a winter chimney.

I hope that everyone loves the sound of their own Om.

Gradually, as I have overcome that selfish/self-conscious feeling that everyone in my yoga classes is looking at me, yoga has become one of the few activities I do where I feel I can completely abandon all of my anxieties or self-imposed restrictions. I breath loud when it feels good, I fart (you know you’ve done it), I let my belly hang out, I close my eyes, relax my face and don’t care what I look like, I Om as loud and as long as I want. And no one cares, because we’re all just trying to feel good in our own ways.

My yoga class on Tuesday was incredible. I found a different studio that’s just two blocks from my apartment in Belgrano! It’s called la Fundación Indra Devi, founded by the “first lady of yoga”. Indra Devi was a student alongside B.K.S. Iyengar and some other big names. And fortunately for me, she opened a lovely studio in Belgrano. The best part of the class was the instructor, Norma. Norma is probably in her 60s and is the warmest, most wonderful person I have come across in this city. She does beautiful yoga effortlessly, like a dancer. At the end of class I thanked her and she gave me a huge, warm, bear hug that made me realize it’s the first time I have been hugged since I left my parents at the airport. Ya. Not OK. My next class with her Saturday… I’m really looking forward to class, and hopefully another Norma hug!

For me, comfort has been hard to come by here in BA. Whether it’s culture shock, city shock, homesickness, it’s been difficult for me to feel completely at ease. At first, I sought comfort in peanut butter. Now I feel it at yoga with Norma. Definitely a healthier, more productive alternative. If only the Haymarket were just a few blocks away. Still searching for that cozy café with wi-fi…