Friday, 15 April 2011

A welcome visitor (and a not so welcome one)

Lisa Lisa Lisa - howihavebeenlookingforwardtoseeingyou! Since the day you confirmed you had booked your flight I have cherished the thought of you here in this urban mass that I now call home! Yes, my gorgeous and wonderful friend, who I have known for close to twenty years, is here, and it gives the city of Buenos Aires a whole new lease of life for me.

Since she arrived just over a week ago we have done a lot, yet at times done little:
We have cheered with the football fans at a partido between River Plate (one of two of BsAs most celebrated teams, the other being the more notorious Boca Juniors made famous by none other than Maradona) and Banfield (Who are they? Exactly). The game was a bit of a non-starter, the players unenthusiastically dragging themselves across the pitch in the gathering darkness of a Saturday night. Both sides were lowering themselves to the all-too-common amateur pastime of throwing themselves onto the ground at the slightest tap on the shins by a member of the opposing team. Unimpressed, we left at half time in search of some better Saturday night entertainment.

We have been to a puerta cerrada, literally meaning 'closed door' which refers to the popular pop-up restaurants that chefs (and opportunists?) set up in their own homes, not dissimilar to the ones you might find in London. We chose one recommended to me by a porteña, Thai-Phillipino food with plenty of vegetarian options to cater for Lisa's needs. Once we found the place, which was well and truly in the 'burbs of the city, we were in fits of glee. First of all the house itself was gorgeous; high-ceilinged elegance with french-style shutters on the doors, the main room and the outdoor terrace, where we chose to sit, were pleasantly candlelit. And then the food: the roti bread was succulently sweet, the curry deliciously salty, the salad drowning in coriander and flavour.... Only the dessert, a fruit salad made from pomelo and an unidentifiable diced fruit, with green tea ice-cream, was slightly below par, Lisa describing its texture as being 'like snot'.

We have embraced the delights of Freddo, the Argentine chain that is a shrine to ice-creamy goodness; we have also embraced frozen margeritas, caipirinhas and Quilmes cerveza, as well as medialunas (mini croissants), pizza, and more Freddo ice-cream. Above all we have embraced delivery Freddo ice-cream brought straight to our apartment door. Never mind that you have to wait for about an hour for it to arrive, and you could have gone down the road to fetch it yourself twice in that time, that's beside the point: it comes to your door and straight to your sweaty, eager, waiting paws. In Buenos Aires you can get everything delivered: pizza, empanadas, cakes, sushi, McDonalds, alcohol, drugs (both legal and recreational), rental DVDs etc etc. In other words, it's the perfect place for hermits, the immobile and the lazy.

Sunday night, dinner at casa de Suzie y Lisa and it's the night before Lisa heads off to Iguazu waterfalls for a few days. I cook up a Delia Smith lentil Shepherds Pie (missing home-cooking? me?) for us and two friends. Through the night my throat starts to feel tender and strains at every swallow I take. I try to ignore it but it won't let me. Next morning I wake up to full blown tonsillitis and nurse Lisa goes in search of over-the-counter antibiotics. No luck, I have to force myself to move from my horizontal foggy-consciousness to go to the Hospital Aleman (very clean, organised and efficient by the way - I would recommend a visit should you be in BA with any unfortunate ailments). An hour and a half later I am back at the apartment clutching all the antibiotics and ibuprofen I need and ready to pass out on the bed again. Lisa asks me if there is any food she can get for me to keep me going while she is in Iguazu. "Don't worry Lisa, if worse comes to worst I can always get Freddo delivery", and then I am out in a drugged, restless, stupor, dreaming of dulce de leche, mascarpone, tramontana and chocolate amargo no doubt...

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