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SCENE: Exterior, riverside restaurant. Rosario, Argentina. 10:30 PM. Table and chairs. DINERS converse quitely nearby. FRIEND and ME have sat down for dinner. Both are tired from a day of traveling from Buenos Aires.

ME: Welcome to Argentina! I know it was a long flight, but it’s worth it. The food in this country is amazing.

FRIEND: I sure hope so, I’m starving. Why couldn’t we eat any earlier than this?

ME [matter-of-factly]: It’s just what they do.

FRIEND: I don’t care what they do, I’m about to gnaw a finger off. [nibbles a bit on a pinky]

ME: No no, it’s cool, don’t worry about it. You’re lucky we’re eating this early. They’re so provincial out here, this would not be fashionable in the city.

FRIEND: I’m not even listening to you. I can only think about steak.

[Enter WAITER. WAITER wears a vest and bowtie and looks like your uncle. Dialogue with WAITER is translated from the Spanish.]

WAITER [politely]: Good evening.

ME: Good afternoons.

WAITER: Welcome to Don Ferro. Here are your menus. [suspiciously] If you prefer, I can bring menus in English?

ME [proudly]: No no, they don’t necessitate menus English. I reads menus small Spanish good.

WAITER: Very well. The special tonight is a salmon quiche, it’s exquisite. I’ll be back in a moment.

[Exit WAITER]

FRIEND: Wow, you’ve done alright with the Spanish here.

ME: Well, I have been here a month and a half, I should hope I’m able to handle dinner in Spanish by now. And don’t forget, I’ve taken over thirty hours of Spanish classes.

FRIEND: Well can you tell me where on this menu the big plate of meat is?

ME: Oh, that would be great, do you want to split one?

[Enter WAITER]

WAITER: Are you ready to order? Can I bring you that salmon quiche?

ME: Is it possible for a mixed grill of two people to exist?

WAITER [straining]: A mixed grill for two people?

ME: A mixed grill for two people.

WAITER [thinks for a moment]: Of course, but it’s actually a bit larger, for three. It includes ribs, sausage, blood sausage, intestines, tripe, glands, liver, and brain.

FRIEND: What did he say?

ME: He said they have it. Something about ribs and sausage and some other meats, I didn’t quite catch all of the names.

FRIEND: Yes! That sounds perfect. Oh I’m so hungry. Should we get a salad too?

ME [to WAITER]: Mixed salad also.

WAITER: Would you like our salad of fresh arugula, walnuts and goat cheese in a raspberry vinaigrette?

ME: [pause] What?

WAITER: We have an arugula salad, it includes a delicious goat cheese, is tossed with chopped walnuts, and lightly coated with a raspberry vinaigrette.

FRIEND: Did you catch that?

ME: Not exactly. [to WAITER] Please salad mixed. Lettuces, tomato, onion?

WAITER: Lettuce salad, very well. Would you like me to bring you the salmon quiche as well? It’s very good.

ME [to FRIEND, impatiently]: He’s really pushing this salmon quiche. Do you want any?

FRIEND [also impatiently, but with additional hunger]: Don’t we have enough food? I though we were getting the meat plate for two.

ME [to WAITER]: The mixed grill, is of two people?

WAITER: Well no, it’s actually for three, but I suppose if you are really hungry for glands and brain, it would be good for two people. Otherwise, I would strongly recommend the salmon quiche.

ME: He says it’s good for two people.

FRIEND: Perfect.

ME: No quiche. Want only salad and mixed grill.

WAITER: Salad and mixed grill, right away sir.

[exit WATIER]

FRIEND: I am impressed, you got through that very nicely. I had no idea how quickly you can learn a language.

ME: I didn’t either. It’s just important to be immersed in it, you know? I mean, I’m practically dreaming in Spanish now.

FRIEND: That’s great. Not as great as this dinner is going to be though. All of that thick juicy steak, I have been waiting so long for this!

[Later]
A platter of assorted animal parts has arrived at the table, served atop a small coal grill.

ME: What do you think this one is?

FRIEND [not amused]: It looks like something else that is not steak.

ME: I think it’s kidney. Do they eat kidney?

FRIEND: They might, but I don’t.

ME: What’s in blood sausage anyway? Actually, nevermind. [pokes at something with a fork] I definitely don’t recognize this one. [turns it over] Oh look, it’s brain!

FRIEND: I bet there’s a reason we usually throw that out. [shuffles through a large pile of shredded lettuce on her plate without interest] And what’s with the salads here? This is incredibly boring.

ME: Yeah, I know. That’s just how they do it here. No one told them how to make a good salad I guess.

FRIEND: And this plate of intestines, is that also just how they do it here?

ME: Oh no, I haven’t had anything like this before. I usually just get a steak.

FRIEND: Well thanks for treating me to your experiment. Do you actually like this?

ME: I don’t like this liver very much. Did you notice how it’s pretty dry and hard? I think it was sitting on that grill for too long and got overcooked.

FRIEND: I did notice that. That’s why I stopped eating it.

ME [with mouth full]: Interesting point. You don’t think you should have gotten the quiche, do you?

FRIEND: I think I should have gotten the English menu.

[CURTAIN]

And so began my final week in Argentina. The food only improved from there, I promise. I learned a lot in that strange foreign land, but apparently, not that much. I have now safely returned to the US, where the steak is much more expensive, but much easier to order. While this concludes the Argentina portion of the blog, I hope you will stay tuned for further adventures. Hasta luego!

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  1. By Argentina, Part I: You ate what? « Carpe Mundus on 16 Mar 2009 at 10:55 am

    […] memorable meal to date took place on my first night. I’ll let my travelling companion tell the story. In sum, brain and intestines have a very, um, interesting texture and probably won’t become a […]

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