Eating Out in Buenos Aires: Where’s the veggies?

In the 1980s, Wendy’s famous ad campaign asked “Where’s the beef?” In Argentina, they have plenty of beef, lots and lots of beef, as well as pork and lamb. The question to ask instead is “Where’s the veggies?”

Carnivore’s delight

When eating out in Buenos Aires, finding a vegetable other than salad (arugula, shredded carrots, avocado, and tomatoes) was a real challenge. A typical menu would have several types of grilled carne (beef): Bife de Chorizo, Ojo de Bife, Bife Angosto, Bife de Costilla. I never did get them straight. If you didn’t specify jugoso (juicy), it was always done medium-well. Most portions are generous, big enough to share. It’s a matter of national pride. You’d often see the big parrillas (grills) with men cooking large amounts of meat showcased on the street or in an open window. Their local rock stars!

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The Sicilian ice cream sandwich

Sciacca, SicilyOn my recent trip to Sicily, I was determined to visit Santa Ninfa and Partanna where my grandparents were born.  At the last minute, the agriturismo we had booked in Santa Ninfa cancelled our reservations (they were having serious mechanical problems) so we decided to stay in Sciacca, a small fishing village that was a reasonable driving distance south on the Mediterranean coast of Sicily. Continue reading

How To Be a Good Dinner Guest: My Top 10.5 Rules

Holidays and entertaining go hand in hand. Over the next few months, there is a good chance you’ll be invited to someone’s house to celebrate. Most likely they will serve food. Lucky you… it means that you will be a dinner guest!  Dinner guests
I’ve thrown many dinner parties myself, been a guest at dozens more, and participated in a slew of pot-luck dinners. Here are my top 10.5 DOs and DON’Ts for dinner guests. They fall in the realm of common sense but they are definitely worth repeating.
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Figs: In Honor of My Grandparents

My fig treeIn 1993, I transferred jobs within IBM and moved from New York to North Carolina.  Not only did I find a much better work environment, I found a better hardiness zone for growing plants. As soon as I bought a house, I planted 2 fig trees in honor of my grandparents and all the Italian immigrants who struggled to grow figs in the northeast.
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When Other People Diet

When I learn that family, friends, or passing acquaintances are trying to lose weight, I know I am about to be educated, again. I involuntarily receive all kinds of information about foods I eat and don’t eat. Information such as calorie counts, amount of fat, and grams of carbohydrates. Fiber and gluten are also brought to my attention. Everything — on my plate, in my refrigerator, at the grocery store — suddenly develops a dietary sub-text. This is very helpful because, being I am rarely on a diet, I forget that the light cream I put in my coffee has four times the fat of 2% reduced-fat milk, and that packaged gravy mixes have practically no calories (because they are made from unpronounceable chemicals). Sometimes, I am treated to a new recipe for a low-cal, low-fat but tasty entree or dessert, often using low-cal, low-fat, tasty ingredients I don’t have in my pantry.
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