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Meat, Cheese and a Photography Lesson

5 Apr

One of our new friends, Jaco, recently took Maggie and me out for lunch at one of his and our favorite restaurants in Buenos Aires, Las Cholas. We loaded up on the “Parrillada Completa” (complete grill) and “Provoleta de Cabra y Rucula” (Argentine provolone goat cheese and arugula).

In the US, we’re not accustomed to eating the non-muscles parts of a cow. Here in Argentina, they eat just about everything, so we ventured out and tasted “morcilla” (blood sausage) for the first time. It got one thumb down from Maggie and two thumbs up from me.

After stuffing our faces, Jaco gave us an amazingly in-depth and helpful photography lesson in crayons. Just in time for Maggie’s mom and sister’s visit!

Only $100 Pesos for the Week

27 Mar

$100 argentine peso bill billete

In order to finish the month of March on track financially, we’ve decided to limit ourselves to only $100 Argentine pesos for the next 6 days. That’s about $22.88 U.S. dollars. Needless to say, it’s not a lot of money as this city is not cheap.

We’ll give you a daily update on every centavo (cent) we spend and the meals it affords us.

Starting balance: $100

– Baking soda for making biscuits $2.00
– 6 liter bottle of water (because our tap water tastes horrible) $12.75
– Dinner: Homemade vegetable soup
Balance = $85.25

– Breakfast: Scrambled eggs and kiwi (already in the fridge)
– Two bus rides (Maggie to and from work) $2.50
– Lunch: Homemade biscuits and raspberry Bonne Mamam jam, the best!
– Dinner: Leftover vegetable soup and biscuits
= $83.75

veggies and eggsmexican food in buenos aires

– Breakfast: 1 egg and bowl of cereal
– Two bus rides $2.50
– Lunch: Sauteed onion and fried eggs with homemade pico de gallo and corn tortillas
– Veggies: Tomatoes, cilantro, lemons, bell peppers, onions, 12 eggs $47.00
– 6 liter bottle of water $13.20
– Dinner: Homemade black beans, rice, salsa and flour tortillas (see story behind the free tortillas)
= $21.05

– Two bus rides (Maggie to and from work) $2.50
– Lunch & Dinner: Leftover black beans, rice, salsa and tortillas
= $18.55

Maggie was paid $100 pesos from a client, which throws us off a bit, positively. We’re not officially counting this income or the expenses paid from it; none of the expenses would have happened without the extra income. We’re putting it down just to be transparent. $100 (income) -$2.50 (buses) -32.50 (coffee with student) -$28 (I played soccer) -22 (taxi) = +$15 pesos

– Breakfast: Flour tortilla with cinnamon and sugar!
– Lunch: Beans, cabbage and salsa
– Two bus rides (Maggie to and from work) $2.50
– Veggies: Green onion and 2 tomatoes $5.00
– Milk $5.50
– Dinner: Eggs with green onion and tomato (see pic)
= $5.55 (and we still have two days left!)

Our challenge is bringing out a very kind generosity from some of our new friends. Jason, a Canadian who has hired me to help build his company website, let us fill up our 6 liter jugs with his filtered water. That saved us about $25 pesos! Also, Jaco, from South Africa, brought us some traditional, homemade “beskuit” (think biscotti) that his mom makes. His mom’s beskuit is literally the best coffee-dipping food we’ve ever had and will keep us fed.

South African Beskuit

– Breakfast: South African Beskuit
– Lunch: The last of the black beans with cabbage and salsa
– Two bus rides (Maggie to and from work) $2.50
– Two bus tickets to our friends’ (Ashley and Scott) place $2.20
– Dinner: Hamburgers and french fries and U.S. sugar candy (think Fun Dip and Fireballs)

= $0.85


– Breakfast: Cereal
– Subway tickets $5.00
– Medialunas and coffee at a café with out of town friends $37.00
– Two bus tickets back home $2.50
– Dinner: Pasta and tomato sauce donated by Ashley and Scott
= -$43.65

Our Excuse and Final Thoughts

We started Saturday, the last day of this craziness, with 85 cents and ended it way over budget. Here’s what happened.

We headed out to go pick up my friend’s cousin, Daniel, who was on vacation here from Mexico. We quickly learned that the subway line we needed was closed because of the race car event that was hopefully going to be our final destination. We now had to walk across the city to Daniel’s hostel. Our path led us past the racing event, and not knowing the track layout, we thought we should cross to other side of track.

Turned out that was a bad move.

We got stuck inside the loop of the track and weren’t allowed to cross back over. So we waited and decided to enjoy the race. I watched in complete joy as these crazy loud and ridiculously fast cars zipped by on the street where buses and taxis usually plod along in traffic.

Once we were allowed to cross the track, we were more than 2 hours late. Thankfully, Daniel was still at his hostel, so we took him back to the race track, watched the cars again, then headed out to find a place away from the crowds and noise.

I led us to a generic café. After all the walking and frustrating delays of the day it was nice to just sit and relax, so I went for comfort and ordered some croissants (medialunas) and a hot chocolate. The billed turned out to be quite steep. We would have gone over budget just from the public transportation alone, but this last café pit stop at the very end sent us way over.

That’s how it normally goes. If we fail to keep our budget it usually happens in the very end by some unexpected thing.

Later that night we were able to save from going further over budget only by the generous donation of pasta and pasta sauce from our friends, Scott and Ashley. I think this is the first week in my life I’ve eaten food specifically donated to me. Though this was a self-imposed challenge and we have money to buy food, it’s still humbling to receive food from friends. We are so grateful that we already have friends here who support us and help us to live out our goals. We certainly hope to be the same kind of people.

Even though we failed to keep our budget, we’ve learned quite a bit this week. We’ve learned about friendship, food creativity, and that we desperately need a water filter.

How We Get Free Tortillas and Salsa

First, just visit this website. It goes without saying the site needs a lot of work. So, Gaby and Pablo, the wonderful owners of Pancho Villa Tortillas, have agreed to barter with me. I’ll build them a new and improved website and they’ll deliver us some of their AMAZING food. If you’re in Buenos Aires and miss Mexican food, you seriously have to email them today to get your order. It’s so good!

A Buenos Aires Coffee Guide (with pictures)

5 Feb

La Helvetica in Buenos Aires

There is a procedure to ordering coffee in Buenos Aires – part explicit, part understood.

While living in San Cristobal, our favorite hangout was La Helvetica, a top-of-the-line café and confiteria. There, and with the help of some Porteño friends, we received our B.A. coffee education.

With one week left before a move to Las Cañitas, we decided to compile a list of the variations of coffee that are ubiquitous in all cafes around the city. In our efforts to assist fellow travelers, we put in our due diligence and helped ourselves to a different type of coffee every day this past week.

Most Porteños know what they want as soon as they sit down. As a result, menus aren’t usually offered, you have to request them (“Podrías traerme la carta?”). While extensive, it doesn’t offer much in the way of descriptions or sizes. Here’s some information the menu doesn’t include, which we found helpful:

Coffee Sizes in Most Buenos Aires Cafés

First, the sizes (left to right):

Chico – small, popular for afternoon or evening drinks

Jarrito – probably the most popular size

Doble – double the pleasure (of the chico)

Café con leche – An odd name for a size, but only café con leche (or crema) drinks are served in this cup.

Cappucino – Similar to the café con leche, only cappuccino is served in this cup – although you’ll see many places get creative with the sizing and style of this drink.

The glasses in the back don’t have names that we know of. They are used to serve specialty drinks like the submarino listed below.

Next, the drinks:

Café – Espresso, straight-up. (Comes in chico, jarrito, and doble)

Café Chico in Buenos Aires

Cortado – ¾ espresso ¼ milk. Means, “cut with milk.” (Comes in chico, jarrito, doble)

Café con leche – ½ espresso ½ milk. (Comes in one size)

Café con crema – ½ espresso ½ cream. (Comes in jarrito and café con leche)

Coratdo en Jarrito and Café con Leche in Buenos Aires

Lágrima – 1/10 “a tear” espresso 9/10 milk. (Comes in chico, jarrito, doble)

Café Lágrima (Doble) in Buenos Aires

Cappucino – espresso, cream, milk, and cinnamon (Comes in one size)

Capuccino in Buenos Aires

Submarino – milk, chocolate on the side – a Porteño hot chocolate, genius! (Comes in one size)

Submarino (Hot Chocolate) in Buenos Aires

Submarino (Hot Chocolate) in Buenos Aires

If we’ve left anything out, please let us know about it here.

This is Normal

29 Jan

This an order for “parrilla completa” (complete grill) for two people. Four of us couldn’t finish it.