Welcome to YQtravelling’s FoodFriday. The day of the week when I show off some of the lovely eats I had while travelling.
Today we’re going to going to South and Central America for some raw fish yummies.
It was my mom who introduced me to the wonders of sashimi. A long long time ago, I didn’t realize just how tasty raw fish with a hint of spicy wasabi is. One day, she encouraged me to try out “just one slice” of tuna sashimi. I was hooked!
Since then, I always welcome dishes with raw seafood (even if they taste like rubber) so imagine my joy when I learned about Latin America’s ceviche.
The dish, also spelled as “cebiche”, is raw fish or seafood marinated in citrus juice. The juice “cooks” the fish using some scientific magic. Or About.com can explain better:
In the culinary arts, ceviche is a Latin American recipe for raw fish and seafood marinated in citrus juice, mainly lime and lemon juice. The acid in the citrus juice coagulates the proteins in the fish, effectively cooking it.
Ceviche is served in the morning and until noon in Peru because it’s not good to keep the half-cooked fish until dinner time. However, for tourists, restaurants do serve ceviche for dinner.
Ceviche at Chan Chan, Buenos Aires
My first ceviche experience was in a Peruvian restaurant in Buenos Aires.
Chan Chan was near my hostel and was said to serve cheap food. I ordered the ceviche, despite not knowing what to expect. I imagined a large plate of sashimi slices but it looked like this:
There was a bush of onion on my fish and a piece of tapioca and a small corn. I thought it was going to be all meat. :(
Still, I fell in love with the tangy dish despite my ulcers which were stabbed by the lime juice with each bite.
From then on, I was open to tasting as many ceviches as I could. However, until now, the dish from Chan Chan remained the best tasting and the most filling ceviche that I’ve had.
Ceviche at San Camilo Market, Arequipa, Peru
I’m hesitant about eating ceviche in most places because the combination of raw fish and unsanitary conditions equals disaster.
The sauce for my ceviche was dyed a slight orange color from what I hope was the tapioca. The dish was nice but it couldn’t compete with my memory of my dish in Buenos Aires.
This other ceviche place in Arequipa
I adore ceviches but I find it frustrating that they never serve a big enough serving to strerch my stomach. Ceviches are served in petite portions with more garnish than the actual fish.
Sometimes the dish is served in fancy wine glasses like this one from a ceviche recommended by one of the teachers in Arequipa.
Four-taste ceviche from Mares, Arequipa
As a budget traveller, I do not frequent fancy restaurants much. But when I was studying in Arequipa, Peru, my retired schoolmate Tasha* (not her real name) always had plans to visit nice restaurants. I could have said no but I always went along.
At Mares in Arequipa, they have a dish with four different sauces for ceviche. I quite like the one that tasted of fruit but I do not remember the proper name.
El Salvadorian ceviche
I tried ceviche at a seafood restaurant in San Salvador. There was quite a lot of fish and even a fried banana biscuit to garnish.
I was surprised by the crackers they gave me. The waiter told me that I should eat the fish with the cracker.
The fish was quite OK and I liked the salty taste of the cracker combined with the lime juice. Yum yum.
When I head back to Southeast Asia, I’ll miss ceviche the most. Even if restaurants sell ceviche, I seriously think that the price will be over the roof so I’ll just eat all my share of ceviche here before I head home.
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Location: Santiago, Chile
[This post was delayed by a day because of travelling and feasting.]
Finally, I am leaving Buenos Aires. I have been in Argentina for more than 3 weeks which is about 1 week too long. I blame it on my US visa application but I should be thankful that the application was successful.
However, thanks to Buenos Aires and Argentina, I’ve met quite a few exciting people. Like me, they’ve decided to take time off from “real life” and travel/ live abroad for an extended period of time. I feel less strange.
My plane to Santiago was leaving at 11:25am and I booked a 8:10am shuttle. This meant that I had to wake up at 7:00am and skip breakfast.
While waiting for the shuttle, I managed to lose my shuttle booking voucher. (I later found it in my pocket.) When the driver asked for the voucher, I had to pretend that I left it in the hostel.
Throughout the drive to the airport, the driver was twitching. Not listening-to-music twitch but a jumpy shoulder. I was afraid he might lose control and run into something.
Luckily, we arrived in one piece.
At the airport, I found the Overexposed Model in one of the ads. For those who don’t know me in real life, I have been “curating” a tumblr called The Overexposed Model which features a stock image model on many different ads.
I groaned loudly when I saw the ad. It’s not really that exciting seeing her on advertisements now. It’s more like a crazy nightmare.
Sky Airlines flight
Let’s head to my Sky Airlines flight. The plane was a small vehicle with three seats on both sides. I had the aisle seat as well as a lumpy seat.
The meal was horrible, one of those that give plane food a bad name.
They didn’t even have coffee or tea. Gasp. Thank goodness the flight was only 2 hours.
The plane seemed to take forever to land in Santiago airport. The clouds were really thick and the plane was flying around for a long time before it landed.
I took a shuttle bus (5,000 peso) to my hostel. The bus waited for a while for enough passengers before heading to town.
Along the way, I saw some beautiful green mountains. It was emerald green with a few trees lined up on its side. I’m liking the city.
After checking into my 6-person dorm, I headed out for Japanese. Sky Airline’s inflight magazine recommended a Japanese restaurant in Santiago that was just down the road from my hostel.
The place had two floors. I went to the second floor since the first floor was full.
I almost had a heart attack when I saw what the other customers were doing. They were drinking espressos, after a Japanese meal!
After getting over the shock, I ordered the set meal. It wasn’t until everything arrived that I knew what it was: Fish tempura with chicken in soy sauce.
The meal was delicious but the green tea was horrid. There’s something bad about Santiago’s tap water. It’s foul.
After lunch, I took a long siesta, something I needed badly.
Peruvian dinner and drinks
For dinner, I went out with Xiao Li who I “met” on Twitter. She has been in Santiago for a while and has been teaching entrepreneurship. I feel highly underachieved compared to her.
Xiao Li and her boyfriend, M, brought me to a Peruvian restaurant where I had my first pisco sour. I am in love with Pisco Sour.
Despite being on the same longtitude as Buenos Aires, Santiago is very very cold. I suspect it’s because it’s in a valley.
The night’s temperature dropped to about 7 degrees C. That is bloody cold. Luckily there’s a heater in my room so I didn’t freeze during the night.
Today was a really stressful day. I was planning to buy air tickets to Ecuador but the booking site had terrible reviews so I headed down to Avenida Cordoba to TAME Airline’s office.
The guy managing the counter was a younger and more handsome version of Javier Bardem. If I wasn’t as stressed out about my airtickets, I would have secretly fan girled more.
Anyway, I had many problems with the tickets to Ecuador:
The booking office does not have a credit card machine
The only way to pay was in Argentine peso at a bank around the corner
I will need to get money out of the ATM 3 times because of the 1,000 peso limit (My bank might think it’s a fraudulent transaction.)
The ticket was S$700
I need a ticket out of Ecuador or Javier Junior cannot sell me a ticket (This can be easily solved though.)
I went straight back to the hostel, forgoing the English tour for Recoleta Cemetery. (I’m rather sad about this.)
I decided that instead of going through the 6 problems I have with buying tickets to Ecuador, I should just head to Chile instead.
So that was how I decided my next destination: Out of stress.
Buying the ticket to Chile
When I first bought my tickets for South America, I bought a flight into Buenos Aires and a flight out of Lima, Peru.
I was worried that the ticket agent might refuse to sell me a ticket because I don’t have a flight out of Chile. I was also worried that the people at the airport might stop me from buyiboarding the plane (horror story from Javier Jr).
What is a person to do at times like this? Book a flight out of Chile. Well, virtually. I’ll explain more after I land in Chile.
After getting all the documents I need, I went for lunch with the Taiwanese girl from the hostel. We had an amazing Peruvian meal which I’ll share sometime later.
After lunch, Iheaded back to Av Cordoba to buy my ticket.
The lady didn’t even look at my air tickets and swiped my credit card for 2,400+ peso (S$600+). There was a second in which I thought about heading back to Javier Jr but thought that it’s too much of a hassle paying for the ticket to Ecuador.
Despite having my Chilean ticket, I was still stressed. Now I have to worry about currency, transportation, accommodation and pronunciation.
Today is my sister’s birthday. Happy birthday to her!
This evening, I checked out Museo Evita because it’s museum day for me and I was around the area. I have to admit that before arriving in Argentina, the most I knew about Eva Peron was that Madonna played her character in a movie which I’ve never seen.
When out at one of the school outings, Macarena from the language school I was at, told more about the history Evita. It was Evita who helped allow women in Argentina to vote and she had helped the poor.
I was curious to know more about Evita. Actually, it was either visiting the Evita Museum or the Museum of Decorative Arts. Of course Evita would win.
The museum is located in a fancy building with sculptures on the wall outside.
Entrance to the exhibition area is 20 peso (S$5). The exhibition includes a lot of artefacts of Evita and bit of quotes from her book, In My Own Words.
The museum was mostly in Spanish but English translation is available.
We walk in a doorway where there is a sort of shrine for Evita. Then follow a walkway to a mirrored room showing a video of Evita’s wake.
Then we enter the room about Evita’s childhood. She lived in a childhood “with happiness and sorrow”. Her father died and her mom became the pillar of the family.
We learn that her mother finally gave up on stopping Eva from being an actress and went to Buenos Aires with her. While Eva was in several films, she was the leading lady in only one film which was not screened.
Then we walk on a spiral staircase up to the second floor where we follow Eva’s political journey (she was never in office) and her fabulous wardrobe.
I particularly like the section with Evita’s clothes, so chic!
Things about Evita that I didn’t know
Evita opened orphanages and started a school for nurse so more people can be trained to take care of others.
One rather interesting program by her was a Children Tourism program (or something like that) where kids were taken to the sea and mountains for the first time.
At the end of the exhibition is a video about how Evita’s body which was embalmed was snatched by Bad People. The body was driven away and buried in Italy under a name starting with Maria. It was years later that the body was returned to her family.
One of the scariest part of the video was Evita’s sister’s voice recording. The voice talked about how parts of Evita’s body was damaged and the camera panned over the damaged parts. Urgh!
I loved the museum very much. You should definitely visit if you are ever in Buenos Aires.
The first part of the day
Now that the main subject is done, I’ll share a bit of what I did for the rest of the day.
I spent the noon at Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (MNBA) which had a good collection (Monets, Rodins, 1 van Gogh). Since it was free entry, the employees were quite horrible. So terrible that I would rather bury the memory of it than write it down here. Still I recommend going there for about an hour or two.
After MNBA (Museum of National Bigheaded Arse), I walked to the National Library. I had heard that the design of the library is cool so I was pretty excited.
After Evita Museum, I rushed back to the hostel to check online if my passport was ready for collection at DHL. It was and I only had 40 minutes to get to the DHL branch.
I made it in time!
How much do you know about Evita? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Welcome to YQtravelling’s FoodFriday–the day of the week when I show off some of the lovely eats I had while travelling.
Today we’re visiting Buenos Aires for some deep fried South American curry puffs.
I have been talking about empanadas for far too many times without showing you what it actually is.
For those of you in Malaysia and Singapore, I imagine a curry puff that is 2 times bigger than the regular puff you have. Now imagine that the skin is not rock hard but baked to just the right texture.
Now imagine that this curry puff does not have lame potatos but meat with a few vegetables. Take a bite of your imaginary curry puff and you have just eaten an empanada.
Food for the eyes
By the way, the guy who’s in charge of the empanada area at the restaurant downstairs looks very much like Thomas in Downton Abbey but with green eyes.
However, take my words with a pinch of salt. A schoolmate indignantly told me that the guy DOES NOT look like Thomas.
Well, he looks like a chubbier version of Thomas. Who can blame him, with all these yummy empanadas around.
Have you ever had an empanada? What’s your favorite filling?
This morning, I woke up at 6:00am to get ready for my appointment at the US embassy for my visa application interview. It was really painful waking up at that hour to brush my teeth in the cold air.
As with yesterday, I took a cab. The driver took a detour but we reached even faster than the cab yesterday.
My appointment slot was the earlier at 7:00am. About 20 people were already queuing outside (and not including those already in), waiting for the multiple checks.
Standing outside in the dark, I could see my breath when I breathe out. It was really really cold.
Anyway, let me tell you more about the different queues and checks at the US embassy:
The first check was outside of the embassy gate. Our passports and a form were checked. Then, we stood in another line next to the first one.
The second line is to queue for the X-ray machine and metal detector. Afterwards, there is a third line before the proper building. Here, we give the fingerprints of four of our fingers, either the left or the right, depending on which the lady behind the counter wants.
Finally, we go to the inside of the building where the air is heated. Here, we are told to sit in chairs to wait for our turn to queue.
When I first reached the room, I noticed that there was only two counters that were open. TWO! There was about 50 people inside the room but only 2 counters?
I decided to stop worrying and begin reading the only book I bought. I actually finished reading Mafalda while I was waiting. Of course I only understood about 20% of the content but I finally finished reading one of the books I’ve bought.
After I finished my book, I read all of the fliers within my eyesight for about 5 times and kept my mind blank.
Then I noticed that there was 3 counters. Later, that turned into 5 and it was my turn to queue.
My counter was 9 and I had a young man who interviewed me. He asked a lot of questions about my travel plans, my previous trip to the US, what my father and mother do for a living and so on.
When the interview ended, the official said he was giving me a 10-year tourist visa for the US. What a great surprise! I was expecting a US$160 transit visa but it turned into a 10-year visa. Woo!
Then I hurried to the bus station to catch the bus. I had a class to catch and I have to check out before I go to class.
I managed to reach the hostel at about 9:05am. Everything I had was about packed so I just stuffed them into the cupboard before telling the receptionist that I was checking out.
I reached class a little late and spent most of my time forcing my eyelids to stay open. The lack of sleep feels like being drunk as I was talking louder than usual.
When class ended, I had a strange feeling in my chest. Was it sadness? Anyway, I couldn’t tell.
Lunch was again empanadas. I headed back to the hostel and like an illegal squatter, used their ameninities and finish writing this post.
In the morning, I woke up at 6:15am to get ready for my visa application to the United States. I need to have 2 visits to the US’s office and embassy.
Today’s visit was only to get my photo and my finger prints taken. I took a cab to the application center because I did not want to get up extra early to take the public transport there.
The process was very quick. I queued with the rest of the people, had my application form stamped and was asked a few questions about my transit.
I was seated at the “special” area because I cannot speak enough Spanish. At the photo taking counter, I was asked a few more questions and was given a bobby pins so I can pin up my hair for the photo.
And it was done. I took the subway back to the hostel because I wasn’t as rich to take a cab both ways.
The subway wasn’t very crowded and I managed to return to the hostel at 8:00am, in time for breakfast.
Classes sped by as we crammed our minds with reflexive verbs and vocabulary for telling the time. Soon it was lunch and I had Chinese food again.
School trip to the cemetery
Our school trip today was to Recoleta, specifically the cemetery. The place is so gorgeous that I do not mind visiting again.
We had some questions which we needed to ask passerbys for answers.
Our teachers stopped one lady in oversized sunglasses who resembled a frazzled Anna Wintour. Wintour was haughty in her answers, saying that for her, the most famous person in the cemetery was her family.
Another gentleman with his wife were more than helpful with their answers, showering us Level 1.3s with lots and lots of words. Thank you kind sire.
After the CCA, I head back to the hostel to pack my bag. I’m heading to Iguazu Falls tomorrow evening with a tour group. The group will leave on Wednesday evening and reaching Buenos Aires on Monday.
Updates on the blog might be paused if I cannot get good internet or if I am driven mad by the party tour bus. I am deathly afraid of parties.
There is a long weekend this week in Argentina. Our school will also be closed from Thursday to Sunday. To replace our lessons, we were required to come to school one hour earlier.
One hour earlier sounds easy. Just 60 minutes earlier than the usual routine, right?
Well, my usual routine is waking up 2 hours before class and taking my time with my breakfast and reading. However, I couldn’t bear waking up at 7am when the sky was still dark and the air cold so I woke up at 7:30am.
The sky was still dark and the air cold. I was sure I had woken up some of my roommates when I fumbled with taking my things for the shower and for school.
We had a new teacher and a new classmate from Holland. Our 4-hour class was great since we got to talk a lot but all the new information needs time to be absorbed. Let me give that 2 years.
Trip to Cafe Tortoni
Our after school activity today was a trip to the oldest cafe in Buenos Aires–Cafe Tortoni. Before heading there, we sat in class and listened to a Tango song about the cafe and the famous people who visited there.
We were supposed to ask the waiters questions about the cafe when we reach there. I managed to ask only for the Wi-Fi password because I’m such a noob. Boo hoo.
Still, we learnt that the cafe’s entrance wasn’t at Avenida de Mayo as the road wasn’t built when the cafe first opened. Instead, the back of the cafe was the entrance.
The cafe is pretty. One part of the ceiling had stained glass while the walls are decorated with donated paintings.
Still, I find a cafe most useful when the coffee is large and I can read for an hour without being disturbed.
After our trip to cafe, it was free time. I headed to Carrefour, where the security guard knows me by sight, to buy something for the night’s dinner.
That something turned out to be a midsized cabbage. All the other leafy greens were either rotting or looking fresh and expensive in a plastic bags.
Unfortunately, the cabbage was really tough. I’ve sliced it into small slices but it tasted like chewing through paper.
The vegetable also lacked the usual sweetness I find in cabbages. Are winter vegetables exceptionally bad?
The night was spent drinking more honey lemon to prevent any cold that might want to visit.
The night has become really cold, my fingers are numb as I type in the kitchen. I hope I am able to find the remote control later so I can turn up the heater in my room.
Oh, I have a bunk mate now. Hope that my climbing in and out of bed won’t wake her up in the middle of the night. (Actually, deep down I hope she moves out sooner than I do.)