Friday, October 16, 2009


I've said it before -- perhaps on this very blog -- and I'll say it again. After all, if it's worth saying once, it's worth saying twice.

I'm a terrible porteño.

I don't do tango (which, truth be told, is more of a tourist obsession than an Argentine one). I don't get red wine. As for red meat, which I only recently began eating again after 20 years without, I still can't bring myself to sink my teeth into a juicy Argentine steak. Yerba maté? A pointless indulgence. I understand its social significance. Drinking it is more of a bonding ritual than the pursuit of a true taste sensation. But if I'm going to put something into my mouth day after day, it better taste great. Perhaps that's why I've never drunk even a drop of coffee. I don't see how something that smells so awful can't taste even worse.

But last night my curiosity got the best of me, and I finally gave milanesa de soja (which, if you go by the literal translation, is basically breaded soy -- eek!) the old college try. I wish I had reined in my adventurous impulses. About a year ago, someone first recommended it to me, and last night I finally found the courage to indulge. There were several brands of the flat patties in the frozen department of the supermercado across the street from my apartment. I considered ham-flavored but decided to go the healthy route and picked up the vegetable brand.

I should have gone high-cholesterol and opted for frozen pizza instead. According to my personal mantra, I'll do anything twice, so I took two bites. That was more than enough. The fact that the wrapping suggested topping it off with actual vegetables or, better yet, cheese, should have tipped me off. If it can't stand on it's own....

There are way too many out-of-the-box delicious things out there for me to waste my time acquiring tastes. I once read an interview with Men At Work about their song "Down Under." It was around the time that the tune was a huge hit, and they were explaining vegemite, as in the "vegemite sandwich" that is mentioned in the song. Apparently, it is some kind of sandwich spread for which no one but Aussies have acquired much of a taste. I'll have to remember to avoid it when I eventually make it to Sydney.

That's what I should have done with milanesa de soba. You'd think that the whole-wheat dumplings that my sister once made at the height of one of her childhood health kicks would have taught me my lesson. They were so dreadful that weeks later I was still literally throwing up at even the thought of them. Nothing quite so dramatic occurred last night, but the milanesa de soba did end up in the garbage, and I went to bed without any supper. The moral of this story? If it looks disgusting, chances are it will taste even worse.
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