08 January, 2009


A Palermo parilla I lunched at today.
Steak with garlic mustard sauce, salad, and sparkling water = AR$24/US$7.

Third day in Buenos Aires and I am in full discovery mode. As a newcomer to Argentina, every street corner is overwhelming my senses. I fully examine storefronts and restaurant menus and constantly look up unknown words in my pocket Spanish dictionary. It is exciting to be in a new city and learning about a different lifestyle. Who knows how long this sensation will last? But I’m going to enjoy this feeling before life becomes routine.

Kioscos are to Buenos Aires what 7 Elevens are to Taipei. Gringos may think the ubiquitous 24/7 convenience stores are a North American habit, but the Taiwanese have perfected the concept and have dotted their cities with more 7 Elevens than mailboxes.

My local Kiosco

Kioscos are similar to the Taiwanese 7 Elevens. They are usually small and narrow holes in the wall that sell everything from mobile phone recharge cards, sodas, snacks, tobacco, and alcohol. My Porteña roommate tells me Kioscos are on nearly every BsAs block.

This morning I registered for a one-week intensive Spanish class at the Daniela Wasser School. As a crash course for visiting North Americans, Europeans, and other tourists, it is a bit expensive at US$190 for 20 hours of instruction. But since I speak almost no Spanish, I don’t want to wait until March for the Universidad de Buenos Aires’ Español para Extrajeros program to start.

BsAs seems to be mostly an Ibero-Italian city. Aside from the language, the Spanish and Italian culinary influences are especially noticeable. Outside of local dishes like steaks, steaks, steaks, and every other available cow part, one can readily find pizzerias, pasta, tapas or heladerias (Italian ice cream shops) and confiterias (bakeries and cafés).

But walking back from Daniela Wasser School earlier this afternoon, I stumbled upon perhaps an Arab neighborhood (or at least a group of Middle Eastern restaurants) in Palermo, on Avenida Raul Scalabrini Ortiz between Cordoba and Nicaragua. While the initial eatery I encountered had an unassuming front with a simple Comida Árabe sign, I soon came across four or five other Arab restaurants, complete with garish faux Middle Eastern facades and advertised belly dancers. I think I’ll take some time out to explore the first of these eateries.

PS – I also realize that I live on Arab Republic of Syria Street (Republica Árabe Siria).

Looking out my balcony onto Republica Árabe Siria. Jardin Botanico to the left.


Evan said...

If you're looking for great Middle Eastern food look no further than Sarkis, it's fantastic and cheap. You can find it on the intersection of Thames and Jufre.

Baino said...

Ha! Phone cards and booze . . happy Camper Teddles?

Mike S. said...

If you think the Taiwanians do Siete Once really well, I have to say that the Thais make us all look like rank amateurs.

TCL said...

@ Evan - on my way to check out Sarkis as soon as I shut the Mac down.

@ Baino - happy as can be. Great waking up in the morn with new things to explore.

@ Mike S. - How good are Asian 7 Elevens! It's a cultural virtue.