Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Old Ladies, Tito & the Bolivians

We get our veggies from the Bolivians. They might not be Bolivians, actually, but we do get our veggies there. Sometimes, anyway. Actually, we only get our veggies there when we don't feel like walking down to the produce guys, who have the best veggies in the neighborhood. It's where we usually go.

If we don't get our pasta from Tito (who closes his shop for three hours after lunch), we get it from the old ladies. We get our wine at the wine store and our chicken from the chicken guy. We buy our Buenos Aires Herald every day from the news stand on Scalabrini Ortiz. We buy flowers (either gardenias or African daisies) from one of the three flower guys between our place and Santa Fe.

On the way to Santa Fe, we pass the old Bolivian lady (who might not be Bolivian either) who sits cross-legged in the same spot every day with a giant pile of vegetables and herbs spread around her. We buy garlic or peppers from her because it's cheap and easy.

When we need telephone cards or beer we go to the kiosk owned by the Armenian family next door. The kid that works there calls me "viejo". Ok, viejo. Chao, viejo. It's right next door to the Armenian restaurant named Shark, which has a giant neon pyramid on top and a card table out front where three guys in suits sit and smoke at night, looking like rejected Old-World gangsters.

When we want to eat cheaply, we either go to the Armenian pizzeria (which doesn't have pizza but serves the house-wine in big, white, ceramic pitchers) or to the little bodegon just up the street that's crammed with brik-a-brak and doesn't have a plate on the menu (which is on the wall) for over US$2. Sometimes I'll run across the street to the pizzeria (this one really does sell pizzas) and get empanadas, if only because I love it when the old lady there calls mi "papa."

I don't know the names of any of these places. The only place I know the name of on our street (besides Shark, and that's because the neon is so goddamn bright, it's impossible to miss) is Coto, a national supermarket. But that's what happens, I guess, with chains. Safeway is Safeway, Starbucks is Starbucks, and that's that. I'm happy right now with the old ladies, even if their pasta ain't as good as Tito's. And we're stickin' with the produce guys.


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