I don`t whats clinging to me so tight – the city, the heat, the spanish, the endless night. But it seems like i have to claw my way out of some suffocating embrace before I can breathe some words onto paper.
And when I`m finally here, I don`t know how to summarize all that has happened in the past week. I feel like the chronological approach might drown me. So how about a few moments? Highlights? Bloopers?
Why not start with the meat of it. When I first heard about what a big role steak played down here, I only accepted the idea to a limit. I mean, at the end of the day, cow is cow no? The only parallel I can make is religion. Kind of like ‘connected to the earth,’ but there is none of the obscuring, mystical language around eating meat that you might associate with Native Americans relation to their food. Maybe the parallel to the Inuit is more precise. Imagine ordering snow on a menu in Nunavut and discovering you had 50 distinct options. And the menu was written in Eskimo.
Don’t be mistaken. It’s not even as simple as ordering a chunk of meat that looks good on the barbeque. I made the fatal error of ordering a ‘morcilla’ – a dark, brownish-red colored sausage that had caught my eye roasting away seductively on the parrilla. Maybe because I consider my palette to stray towards the more adventurous side I took no notice of the glances of warning offered to me by the Argentines sitting at my table. But it seems in retrospect that quite a few people tried to warn me off.
I cut through its tough, blackened skin and took my first bite of its contents – a reddish, pasty substance. Both texture and taste left me shuddering. My tongue tried desperately to push the foul food to a corner of my mouth where it couldn’t be tasted.
“No te gusta?” I was asked by a smirking Argentina girl across the table from me. I thought I had just ordered a sausage. I wasn’t ready for a gastronomical adventure. “In Argentina, we eat all parts of the cow. Incluso el ojo.” I knew I wasn’t eating eye sausage but she seemed to be intimating that I would be put off even further if I knew what exactly I was eating. “I tell you after,” she offered with a conspiratorial smile.
I ate about a third of it before repulsion or exasperation got the best of me. I turned to look down the table with my hands already held up in a double-u at my sides in the universal sign for ‘what’s going on’. My questioning eyes were met by a humored Australian who seemed to be enjoying watching me eat my schadenfreude sausage.
He winked at me and asked gleefully: “How’s the blood sausage mate?”
Blood sausage. Morcillo. Blood carefully fried and congealed and fried and congealed until it resembles a semi-solid meat paste. In other words a giant, sausage-sized scab. You can taste the iron.
Yum. But I guess you have to take religion with the good and the bad.