Fighting back

Today’s post will not be so much about my food romp (beef shawarma with a pomelo drink) because I’m currently getting shredded for the article I published yesterday. I can’t say I didn’t see this coming because I’ve been around the science journalism scene for long enough to know that anything about GMOs will get you lots of angry mobs of the anti-science and anti-Monsanto persuasions. Of course, explaining in the article that there are thousands of studies indicating nothing wrong and that I don’t agree with the politics did nothing for me because no one ever reads articles before flaming them, plus I know better than to expect people to change their minds.

Which brings me to two rules that should be established before commenting. I also know better than to expect that to happen too, but one can dream:

  1. Read the article first. Seriously, you’re going to look stupid in the comments if you bring up stuff I already shot down.
  2. More importantly, if you’re going to tell me I’m wrong (and if I am, by all means, tell me), you better have proof. I’m not talking some random site that agrees with what you think. I’m talking a peer-reviewed and published study, more than one if you can find them. I’m not going to believe you otherwise.

Rereading the comments too much makes me mad, which doesn’t help when I’m trying to respond in the most civil fashion I can when dealing with people who don’t bother to look up the information. With the exception of one commenter who pointed out a very valid grammatical error on my part (my editor is fixing this as we speak), they’re resorting to using the very misconceptions I addressed in the article with only mild variations, not to mention logical fallacies.

I don’t know what I expected.

Wait, yes, I do. I expected people to be smart enough to do their research before posting crap like that. 33,000+ articles don’t lie. A quick Google search of university sites (not even .org sites can be trusted with this one) doesn’t lie.

Welcome to science journalism.

Trying my luck

Overall, I’ve been pretty lucky foodwise in my adventures abroad.  Aside from those stomachly-questionable salchipapas I ate in Ecuador and that chicken empanada last week with surprise peppers and onions, nothing I’ve bought has been terrible, and really most of it has been pretty good, which is nice. I know that having hits and misses is part of any experience, food or otherwise, but I’ve been surprisingly lucky.

Today was a little different. Of course, I kept my string of good luck because my lunch was quite yummy, but we didn’t get to the Peruvian restaurant til almost 2, the service (for us, anyway) was horrendously slow, my friend’s dish wasn’t that great, and the waitress kept my change as an assumed tip. The only reason why I didn’t put up a fight is because my dish was worth the tip. It was ajiaco de conejo, which translates to something yummy with rabbit. I don’t know what was in the sauce, but it was seasoned really well, and this is going to sound super cliché but the meat really did taste like chicken, though maybe a bit meatier. The potatoes were really good too, and the rice soaked up the excess sauce. Good stuff.

I also finally got my second article published, which was a relief after working on it for almost a month. My editors and the postdoc researcher I interviewed were super helpful in making it happen.

And finally I got to visit El Ateneo, which is this cool bookstore that used to be a theater house. I had walked past it several times without really looking in because I just assumed it was a plain old bookstore, but then a girl in my program posted a link about it, so I had to go back and check it out. The old balconies were transformed into reading rooms, and the stage was the eating area. I’d post pictures, but my laptop is still broken.

Breaking the mold

To kick off the food romp, I did something I don’t normally do: order something that isn’t chicken tikka masala at an Indian restaurant. I know that’s super lame, especially when I’m all “I’ll try everything once,” but I’m still working on my heat tolerance and it just tastes so good that I can’t help but order the same thing every time. (Un)fortunately for me, my friend from London (whose family is from India) refused to let me order it, plus it wasn’t on the lunch menu anyway, so I ordered a 19-spiced lamb dish that was really good. I’ll admit, I’m glad she put the threat on me because even though I could eat tikka masala sauce on a tire and probably be happy, part of me has also been wanting to order something else. Don’t worry, chicken tikka masala, you’re still my go to if things get scary.

(PS: The restaurant is also literally within throwing distance of my bedroom and I’ve been wanting to go there ever since I got here.)

I’m also just about done on my second article. For those of you keeping track at home, yes, I’ve been here for 5 weeks and haven’t published my second article, but it’s about GMOs, which is as huge a deal here as it is at home, so my editors wanted to make sure I had everything covered in case I got shredded. Of course, that implies that someone outside of my family is reading them, but one can be hopeful. As frustrating as it was, it was neat because my editors got me in contact with a postdoc researcher at a molecular and cellular biology research institute in a nearby city, and she not only gave me a lot of valuable points but also thanked me for being one of the handful of people not against the technology. Balanced sources are few and far between in this topic, so it’s exciting to be one of the few.

Last hurrah

Would you look at that, I fell off the posting bandwagon again. To be fair, I hadn’t done a whole lot aside from making a complete jerk out of myself by ordering 110 pesos worth of food when I only had 100 on me at the time and narrowly escaping a super creepy guy in the one and possibly only time I’ll go out to a dance thing.

BUT. This is my last week here, so I need to make this special. How? With a food romp, of course. I realized this when talking to my mom yesterday because she asked what I had planned for my last week, adding that I could take out a little extra money if I needed to so because I might not be able to come back, and aside from the Feria de Mataderos, all the other places were restaurants. I’m not terribly surprised, though: I hit the museums I wanted to see, I don’t have money to go to Mendoza or Patagonia or whatever, and I’m not terribly fashion conscious (plus they have a weird obsession with platform shoes here). So what does that leave? Food. And with my unofficial goal to hit as many PITF joints as I can (eight so far), I have my work more than cut out for me anyway.

Today: delivery. I know that’s kinda lame because I can get delivery at school, but I still wanted to give it a go, plus I’m weird about walking around at night by myself. Unfortunately, the sushi place I wanted to get delivery from had a higher minimum than what I had (and was capable of eating), and then the burrito place I was going to order from didn’t deliver to the apartment, so I settled on a teriyaki steak stir fry thing. The veggies weren’t terribly exciting (tasted good but just shredded cabbage and carrots), but holy goodness the steak was tender. I was also bad and made a barebones version of my bartending project with vanilla ice cream, a bit of Baileys, and cookie crumbs.

The slightly more official food romp starts tomorrow with lunch with some of my program friends.

Life’s lemons

One of the main things I’ve learned on this trip (and I guess in life in general) is how to work with what you have. Here, it’s been things like the limited funds I’ve allotted myself or my certainly-less-than-fluent-but-mostly-functional Spanish skills when interacting with my host family and people at restaurants. At home, it’s been things like working on an early schedule and finding stuff to do when my friends aren’t a room away. And at school, it’s been things like cooking for one because it’s a lot harder than I thought.

But when I think about it, I don’t really have a method to my coping skills, whether they’re applied to tchotchke things like the aforementioned or serious things like death or divorce. I just… do it. It’s really frustrating because I’ve gotten to the age where these things happen more often, and I’ve been through them too, but either I’ve been so removed from it (my parents got divorced when I was six and I turn 21 in a month and change) or I haven’t been in exactly that situation, so not only can I not directly compare, I can’t explain my coping process to help others. This trip has been especially weird for that, having one friend’s parents start a divorce and three framily members lose a close relative in the span of a month. Obviously it’s all about them and their feelings, and I want to help, but I’m not much help when I just… do it.

Maybe that’s just it, then. Maybe there is no method, no rhyme or reason to how one adjusts to significant change or really any change. Maybe everyone just… does it, but getting there is different, and maybe all we can do to help our friends in times like this is to pick them back up and put them back on their own track.

And provide ice cream. Ice cream always helps. Happy National Ice Cream Day, estadounidenses, and happy Día de los Amigos, Argentines.

Delayed recovery

I was going to add this as an edit to the bottom of last night’s post, but I decided it should get its own. In addition to drinking two cups of coffee and actually being somewhat sociable Saturday, my laptop decided to crap out somewhere between the first café (con leche) and the 3D printing café. Thanks to the lovely full-time staff in the IT department at school, I knew how to at least diagnose my problem, though seriously, all you do is type in the problem and chances are someone will know what it is and how to fix it (it’s actually our first line of defense after turning it off and turning it back on again).

Anyway, it appears my BIOS battery has kicked the bucket, making it impossible for my crappy little Gateway laptop to get past the Gateway loading screen. It seems like a pretty easy fix, just open up the back, replace the little battery (it’s like what you put in a watch), and then off you go. The problem is that I don’t have a screwdriver here small enough, and I don’t really want to attempt PC repair here in Argentina, mostly because I don’t trust my Spanish enough to explain what I need without sounding like I don’t know what I’m talking about beyond “computer,” “broken,” and “screwdriver” (thank you, bartending classes).

To be fair, it’s also five years old and *ahem* still runs Vista, so it’s not like it’s a brand new computer, but if I can salvage it, that’d be cool. It crashed several years ago when my dad still had it, and he was able to bring it back to life, but other than that, there wasn’t anything wrong with it until this. Chrome works fine on it, Word works fine on it, Inkscape works fine on it, and none of my Steam games are compatible with my Mac, so…

Recovery

This past week was just weird on a few different counts. My article for last Monday was never edited because one of my editors was in Montana for a wedding and the other was busy doing real journalism on the vulture funds negotiations. I didn’t get a whole lot done otherwise because their schedules meant no meetings and no responses to emails, plus Wednesday was the semifinals and Independence Day. And today I braved the crowds and went to Plaza San Martin to watch the final, in which I got to deal with everyone smoking and drinking and lighting off firecrackers, and even now people are still honking and cheering, even though we lost.

But hey, some good things came out of it too. For one, stores will actually be open tomorrow, which is good because I have laundry to do and food to buy. I was a big girl and drank two cups of coffee in one day (granted, it was café con leche so more like coffee with training wheels, but I don’t drink coffee, so this is huge). I went to a pretty neat tango show Friday night like the super cultured person I probably should be.

The highlight, however, has to be finding a café that does both food and 3D printing. I know it’s an odd combination, but it’s a wonderful one considering how much I love both of those things. If you don’t have a 3D printer at home, you can give them a design or model and they can print it for you, or you can rent one or buy one to print your own stuff at home. If you do have one, they sell filament and will fix it if you break it.  And hello, it’s full of food and 3D printers. I’m not sure what else I need.

Bonus: They’re also looking to expand to other cities. If I had any money whatsoever, I would totally consider bringing this brilliant idea back to the States.

A map to guide us

I’ve been making my way around the city slowly, largely because of the PITF restaurants I want to visit, which got me thinking: maybe I should make a map of all the reviews so I can better coordinate my travels.

Somehow that ended up getting changed to making a map of my travels to show where I’ve visited, including the food places I’ve been to, but hey, it’s still a useful map for me to see where I’ve been and for my horde of adoring fans to know all the super cool places to visit.

map

 

It’s a work in progress – as it is, I can already think of a place I missed – but it’ll help me out as I go. And who knows, maybe I’ll get around to making a PITF map too.

Part of the adventure

Part of the initiation process of any trip is getting lost. I’ve gotten a little mixed up here and there so far this trip, but today’s adventure was the first time in which I actually had to hail a cab to get back to where I was going. But hey, at least there’s a fun story with it. My program offers fun perks for its participants like free food when we get together to watch World Cup games and lots of tour opportunities. Last weekend, I attempted their tour of La Boca/San Telmo/Puerto Madero, but it had been cancelled without me knowing, so I ended up hanging out the rest of the day the other girl from the program who had also showed up. Not to be defeated this weekend, we actually RSVPed to the tour like we were supposed to, but we didn’t realize it was a walking tour and there was a tour bus that left at the same time, so we got on that instead because our directors said it was already paid for. Of course, the bus people had no idea what we were talking about and dropped us off at the next stop so we could get back, but then my sense of direction failed us and we ended up walking a few blocks in what ended up being the wrong direction before our guide called to ask us where we were. At that point, we ran a few more blocks before realizing it was the wrong direction, so we ended up hailing a cab and finally got back 20 minutes late. Whoops.

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Directional ineptitude aside, it was pretty neat to see other parts of the city we hadn’t been to before, and the end of the tour was two blocks away from another PITF site I had wanted to check out, so we ate dinner there on the way back to the subway.

Fooding it up

I’ve learned a lot of things in my time here, but when it comes to food, two main things come to mind: 1, it’s everywhere, and 2, it’s not cheap. Every block has a kiosco with all sorts of candy, and bakeries aren’t much less common. Combine that with the prevalence of restaurants and you’ll get what I mean. Unfortunately for those of us on a budget, it’s not exactly cheap either (well, cheaper than the States, yes, but when I’m trying to function on 100 pesos per day, it’s not fun).

But we’re not going to let that stop us from eating everything, are we? No! Of course not!

First order of foodly business: a DIY food tour of Buenos Aires courtesy of the recommendations on Pick Up the Fork. It’s a local restaurant blog with reviews of lots of different places to eat, and she often makes lists of good eats by categories like bakeries, sandwiches, vegetarian, or my personal favorite, cheap food. Since I have a lot of time to myself outside of researching for my articles, I’ve started visiting a few. Monday was DOGG, a hot dog place with all sorts of fun toppings and a great lunch deal (when I went, it was a hot dog with whatever toppings you wanted, fries, and a frozen lemonade for 46 pesos, which is about 5 bucks). Today I wanted some silly food way to celebrate the Fourth of July, but since I already used my hot dog credit this week, I hit 180 Burger Bar, which oddly enough is only a few blocks away from DOGG. Whoever decided to put tzatziki sauce (think that cucumber stuff you put on a gyro) on a burger is brilliant. I’m sure I’ll visit more places in the month I have left.

The second order of business was more of an instance of convenient timing than anything because the tenth annual Caminos y Sabores food fair was this weekend. It’s a big gathering of artisan foodmakers (and some crafty people) from around Argentina to showcase their goods. Wines, sweets, some delicious blueberry chocolate spread stuff, olive oil, mate, queso, salami, you name it. It was a bit pricy to get in (60 pesos), but a lot of stands had free samples, so you could sort of nosh your way through the fair. There was a lady there selling “exotic smoked meats” like boar, venison, pheasant, etc, and I ended up buying some because it was yummy and she was nice. (I would’ve bought some blueberry stuff too, but artisan stuff is expensive and I only had 70 pesos left on me.)

And now I just have to find a way to bring back my stupid Kinder eggs without getting taken into custody or something. Yippee.