BUENOS AIRES — When I went to the Underground Market for Buenos Aires, I expected a diverse spread of food and prices low enough to encourage people to try different things. But unfortunatly, this was not the case. While there were some foods that are not prominent in Argentine stores, all of the tables were mostly the same. If you wanted to spend fewer than 50 pesos you could only get a portion of meat, a dessert and maybe a drink. Filled with tourists, the restaraunt did not justify its high prices and poor, tourist-filled atmosphere.
Buenos Aires has more to offer than three months of study abroad can conquer; one must be strategic in his or her approach. And while it may not be the best way, conquering Buenos Aires via stomach is definitely is worth considering. The city has numerous restaurants, bars, cafes and panaderías waiting to be sampled. Students can easily blow their budgets on choripan alone, even though it only costs a few dollars in terms of U.S. currency. It’s that good.
But if Buenos Aires’ myriad of watering holes still leave you craving American food, there are always those few restaurants that serve American brunch or a passable pizza. And if you look hard, you can find an expatriate artisan food community that thrives in the dark corners of the city, emerging at events like The Argentina Independent’s BA Underground Market, a seasonal extravaganza of granola, brisket and English speakers. Come for the free samples; stay for the beer on tap and Pinkberry-esque frozen yogurt. It was like taking a step back into Brooklyn.
The venue, a still-functioning factory, was filled with Argentinean hipsters and expatriates munching on homemade baked goods and goat cheese.
Most of the expat-centric nature of the event stemmed from the fact that The Independent is Buenos Aires’s only English-language newspaper, so there were not many Argentines at the event. Sarah Cuento, a Steinhardt junior studying abroad in Buenos Aires, saw this as a welcome change for the afternoon.
“What I found most interesting about it was the amount of non-Argentines there,” Cuento said. “It provided a different kind of environment … for a couple of hours, which was refreshing.”
Most attendees milled about to hear the acoustic bands performing in the back or attempted to scoop up as many free samples as possible. Unsurprisingly, the craft beer and the pulled-pork brisket tables had long lines all day. There are few things harder to get in Buenos Aires than American barbeque sauce or a honey beer. When the attendance swelled to more than a thousand people, many stands simply ran out of food. Good thing pulled-pork is just as good on a plate as it is in a sandwich, no matter what country you are in.
“We attracted over 1,000 people, way more than we expected,” said Athena Feldshon, a Colgate University student enrolled in NYU Buenos Aires and intern for The Independent.
“Hopefully … the market will grow even larger,” Feldshon added.
While the food was satisfying, it was nowhere near as delicious as what one can find prowling the streets for Buenos Aires’ best. Advice for the future: see what the city really has to offer. It is even better if the order is lost in translation and you end up with something you never expected. Studying abroad is all about the adventure.
Haley Houseman is a contributing writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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