Sunday, January 11, 2009

Tearing it up for another year

For me, the new year has always had certain connotations. Either a ski trip or, more likely, a frigid night featuring the overconsumption of alcohol followed by watching Michigan lose in the Rose Bowl. The new settings bring all kinds of changes. Well, except for the alcohol thing. But before getting to all of that, I want to talk about a local year-end tradition that proved far more fun than I had anticipated. On the last business day of the year (for some that is 12/30, for others, 12/31), the employees gather together to throw papers out of their windows. It's a little childish and stupid, but then again, so is high school. It's a pretty neat sight to see full sheets of office paper dancing their way to the ground, flipping back and forth, reflecting the bright sunlight.In my office, we're fortunate enough to have a balcony (on the 21st floor!), and cautious enough to shred our paper before we eject it to the waiting streets below. This event is simply referred to as "papelitos" (little papers) and the entire downtown is showered in them for two solid days.
Nico's handful went right in my face a split-second later

Another local tradition is that when someone graduates from school, their friends and family assault them with eggs, mustard, mayonnaise, and all kinds of other kitchen-appropriate substances. Two women from the office recently completed their studies, so they got the egg treatment, courtesy of a VP that is about to move to the US. His technique needs some work, though, as he splattered his own shirt a bit in the process.
He doesn't seem too upset about it, does he?

New Years Eve was spent with friends from Ultimate Frisbee at a pot-luck party. Belu and I tried to make a traditional Argentine holiday dish called pionono. It consists of a thin cake-like substance rolled with savory food inside. Our three versions - avocado-corn-cheese, tuna-olive-egg, tomato-pickle-cheese. The tuna one worked out the best, and people dug into the avocado as well. The tomato - a bit too loose and wet, but we'll take another crack at it again sometime. Also, since we had a spare pionono left over, we threw together a dessert one with dulce de leche and crumbled up chocolate cookies. People said they liked 'em, which means my first Argentine cooking was a success!
Awaiting the roll

Precut Pionono

There's not much left (same with Martín's onion tart)

After watching fireworks from the rooftop, we hit the town without a real plan. 25 of us wandered San Telmo, coming across an impromptu percussion performance in which stopped us dead in our tracks and had just about everybody dancing. I made the error of toting a bottle of Fernet, a bitter spirit normally mixed with cola, and alternately drinking and sharing it straight. Note, I can safely say at this point, that this is not a recommended practice. Fernet con cola is an acquired taste to say the least, but Fernet solo is one considerably more unattainable. Just trust me. Also, I learned that Fernet is really, really strong. After the square, we hit Museum, one of the larger venues in San Telmo and danced until late. All in all, a great night, even if I couldn't quite remember everything once it was over.

I must bid a fond farewell to new friend Arturo whose presence here has been a huge boon to both me and my roommate, Josh. Arturo's apartment was always party-central where people from seemingly all over the world would get together before or after hitting the town. Plus, he introduced me to Belu, so I find myself quite indebted to the man. Arturo's position here was discontinued and he has headed back home to California.

I know it's BFC in Chicago right now, but here the temps keep climbing. Good thing I have a pool I never use. In fact, it's getting so hot here that the cartoneros (people who pick through the trash to sort out the recyclable materials) are generally going topless. No, I don't think this one did that in her day.

The other day, I saw an older man eating an Alfajor at 8:15 in the morning on the sidewalk, presumably right outside the kiosko where he purchased it. This isn't exactly news, but it made me smile.

Further update on the previously mentioned moneda crisis, this time in the Wall Street Journal. This dude's opinion --> Privatize! Yay! He goes on to say that the same thing happened in England over 200 years ago, and they privatized and it worked great! Ups - then he corrects himself and says it didn't end up working at all. My friend Emiliano told me that they are planning to get a card system for the buses thanks to decree by the government, which, actually, should solve the entire problem right quickly. I should also note that this WSJ guy doesn't even know what the coins are called (he thinks they're centavos).
(HT for the above stories - DaVe)

A taxi driver told me I had a French accent. I don't know if that means it's getting better or worse, but it surely means I'm trying. Maybe by next New Years, I'll be taken for a Porteño. Fingers crossed...


Lahill said...

Another well-phrased, interesting (and welcome) update. Besides photos of ketchupped shirts, we are dying to see Belu unveiled. Your camera works, right? So, next time, por favor.
El Viejo

PMaz said...

I tried to read what a Alfajor was, but the Wikipedia entry is in Spanish. I don't know Spanish, though we did recently get Rosetta Stone Spanish for Christmas. Unfortunately, you can only have 5 profiles in the program, so I got left out. I will continue to be ignorant for awhile. Anyway, I guess the Alfajor looks pretty tasty.

You always did have a slight French accent, especially when you said, "Faith No More rocks."

PMaz said...

Oops. AN Alfajor.

Reed said...

Ohhoh honhhh. Fait No Mooore. Zey are ze best rock band on ze planet...

Sorry I linked to the Spanish version. But you can always click on English on the left side of the Wiki pages - in case I do it again.

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