August 16th, 2004

beach bum

Food

While plenty of people get into trouble when they travel abroad, stomachwise that is, therefore don´t even dare eating any strange food, my stomach is strong enough having travelled through a lot of countries during the last decade. I might be opposite actually, I´m afraid I am gaining weight while travelling here.

It starts with breakfast, usually just pop into a bakery and find some nice croissants (media luna´s) and danish, all kinds of nice and sweet things to start the day. Probably not the most healthy, yet very cheap. You pick a few, get them all into a paper bag and then find that it doesn´t cost you half as much as a sandwich would cost in Europe.

Great was finding out that empanadas are very common here. I remember eating them in the Dominican Republic and trying for months to persuade any of the staff to sell me one of their shirts ´de nosotros empanadas´ on it, a chain in the DR that I must have gone bust, as I can´t remember seeing them again on later visits. In Montevideo I bumped into them again. Ever since I have been eating plenty of days empanadas for lunch. Cheese and onion, chicken, cheese and ham, minced meat, all kind of varieties. Two or three of them and one can go again for hours. Also very cheap, extra advantage offcourse. Only once did I see empanadas in Europe, but they were so expensive (Amsterdam) that I could eat a complete meal elsewhere for the price of one.

I once mentioned the ´tenedor libre´ concept. In most touristy towns there are some restaurants that offer that option. All you can eat for 5 euro. I deliberately started with a salad (yes mom, I am eating vitamines) but afterwards one just goes to the grill and searches for whatever meat one likes. Argentinia is a meat eating country, so instead of a piece of meat, one gets half a chicken or half a plate full of beef. Because it all tasted great, I felt the need to try several meats, each time urging the chef to give me a smaller piece.

After several plates of food, I got another old familiar friend from the DR: budin de pan. A desert made of old bread and raisins, incredibly good, but also very rich. How brilliant can one finish a meal?

On several other days I just popped into the supermarket and bought some little yoghurts, I always bring a small spoon (more usefull than those swiss army knives) when I travel, so eating them in a park or hotel room is not really a problem.

All in all, apart from enjoying the life on the road, seeing various great places, foodwise I´m not doing bad either. Good thing football starts immediately after I get home.