….”pretend like its the weekend, yeah.”
I took advantage of a class-less Friday morning to make a batch of banana pancakes for my host family. A few weeks ago I discovered that Flor, the daughter of my host mom, Maria, had never tried pancakes in her life. Now, I don’t know about you, but this fluffy comfort food has been the highlight of many-a-morning, and it just doesn’t seem right that someone can go 26 years without enjoying a stack of flapjacks. That, combined with the fact that I brought a small bottom of Maine maple syrup with me as a housewarming gift, meant that it was my responsibility to introduce the breakfast staple.
I decided that if I was going to do this, I had to do it right. I found a classic recipe online, sifted the flour, cracked the eggs, sizzled some butter, and dropped delicate spoonfuls of batter into a warm pan. Thinly sliced bananas went in to add some extra flavor, and we broke the seal on a jug of Sweet Williams syrup. Between bites, I gave my best Spanish explanation of how exactly maple syrup is made, as well as anecdotes about IHOP and my own pancake experiences. To cap it off, I pulled out my itouch and played Jack Johnson’s “Banana Pacakes.” The last notes coincided with the last bites, and not a crumb was left in sight. I would call the morning a success.
From there I had to get out the door quickly and meet our group in San Telmo, one of the most-visited barrios in Buenos Aires. If you recall, it was in this same neighborhood that my dad and I had a dinner to remember at El Baqueano restaurant. Today, it wasn’t our sense of taste that was appeased, but our sense of sight. We had the unique opportunity to meet an artist native to Buenos Aires, Fernanda Piamonti. She is a pretty young woman who has been painting since the age of 10. In the last decade, she has left the traditional media of oil and acrylic behind in favor of charcoal, clay, and, her favorite, petroleum. She uses the black, sticky substance to create abstract portraits and landscapes. Ironically, the dark, foreboding emotions that these paintings communicate are completely at odds with Fernanda’s bubbly personality. Nevertheless, they are very impressive.
Not only did we get a tour of Fernanda’s apartment studio, but we also got to watch as she created a piece from the bottom up: a portrait of one the girls in our group, Marrisca. Fernanda’s only tools were a 3 x 4″ piece of canvas, gloves, a CD, and copious amounts of tar-like petroleum. She worked for about 20 minutes. The end result was a powerful depiction of Marrisca’s face, composed of stained canvas poking through smears of black. We gave both Fernanda and Marrisca a round of applause, and said our goodbyes with Argentine kisses and well-wishes.
After a quick pass through the Buenos Aires Musuem of Modern Art, our group decided it was time for a late lunch. We trekked back towards a small café that had caught my eye earlier solely because of the delicious-looking bread I had seen served to an outside table. Truthfully, I was just going with my gut (pun intended).
It turned out to be an excellent decision. The café was vegetarian-inspired, and boasted a host of fresh, wholesome ingredients on a menu made up of sandwiches, smoothies, and creative entrees. Some of the dishes that made their way to out table were: vegetarian pizza with whole grain crust, pesto, cheese, arugula, tomato, and caramelized onion; vegetarian fajitas stuffed with mushroom, onion, cheese, homemade guacamole, salsa, and sour cream; an avacoda, tomato, cheese, mayo, and chicken sandwich served warm on seedy brown bread. To drink, I got a yogurt-fig-honey smoothie that was out of this world. Needless to say, I left the table with my stomach ready to burst with delicious food.
On a completely unrelated note, I need to apologize for a serious gap in my current blog posts. Last weekend I took a 5-day trip to Mendoza for skiing, trekking, and wine-touring. It was quite possibly my best weekend yet in Argentina, and I haven’t had the time to do it justice in the blog. I’m hoping I can give a halfway-decent summary of the trip at some point this weekend, but for now I encourage you to check out my Facebook for pictures of all of the wonderful adventures.
For now, Ciao!