S’Elmo

11 Feb

After two weeks, things are getting as smooth as a bossanova tune. I’m learning bus routes, which plazas have clowns, and how to order food.

While I may have had no idea which direction it was in when I arrived, San Telmo is a crucial part of bohemian Buenos Aires. Today was my first comfortable excursion to it.

While Recoleta may be the final burial ground for city dignitaries, San Telmo may be where the spirit of the city rests. Tango dances, guitar players, and craftsman selling feather earrings and colored signs pack the Plaza Dorrego, while the Mercado San Telmo is an indoor market selling enough of a variety to put any Wal-Mart to shame.

We started at El Maipú, a restaurant only a block from Plaza Dorrego, which is the main center of the neighborhood. The interior has white tablecloths and clean designs, a flip side to the neighborhood’s hand painted signs and crooked cobblestone roads. Parts of San Telmo remind me of Clint Eastwood spaghetti Westerns, but this restaurant had the classy corners covered. (Que lindo)

I had read that the restaurant featured an empanada with sugar on top. As college students, we’ve learned to become connoisseurs of the flaky and cheap pastries. We’ve dodged some locations, put our thumbs up for some, and are now quite the experts on the savory pastries that run about $5-7 a piece.

This one, a carne cortada a cuchillo, blew the others away. That sugar on top isn’t for show. The filling had a sweetness that the others I’ve tried didn’t, and some green onions were a pleasant surprise with the ground beef.

My host father recommended following a carne cortada empanada with a bondiala de cerdo. It’s a cut of pig shoulder I’ve never tried before, and like so many things I experienced and loved here, it was a string of questions and a little bit of adventure. Much like the asado, it’s a simple presentation with a lemon slice, but every bite was an acidic and salty payoff for taking a trip to the place that defines Buenos Aires.

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One Response to “S’Elmo”

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