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The Most Important Pizzerias in Buenos Aires

July 27, 2011

On Monday night, Fernando (my partner on BA Cast: The Buenos Aires Podcast) and I along with our trusty intern Jimmy went to visit the top 3 pizza joints in Buenos Aires. I say top 3 from a historic perspective.

They are El Cuartito, Las Cuartetas and Guerrin. Two notables that did not get visited are El Palacio de la Pizza and Los Inmortales, both of which I have written about and recommended highly in the past.

But the top 3 were all built around 1930, when Argentina was basically still in its golden period.

The most astonishing thing of the night was that we got free stuff at every place we went. To me this speaks to the Argentine obsession with the press. I’m not sure that if you walked into a pizza joint in New York or Chicago or even Portland, Oregon for that matter that you would get anything for free. At El Cuartito we got everything for free. Everything! Unbelievable! Even the beers.

Now I don’t want to ruin the results (which shall be discussed on the Pizza Wars of BA Cast starting tomorrow) too much because that is why we did the podcast. What I do want to talk about is my personal take on Pizza in general.

I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. It would be one thing if the pizza was actually bad, but what we are talking about here is a stylistic choice. It’s the same as getting used to the cuts of meat, the haircuts or any other cut you might imagine. Its a style!

My personal theory is that people just like to bitch. Bitch bitch bitch! And hey I am no exception. I suppose I am bitching right now about those who bitch. How redundant.

Maybe I should pursue food criticism in a more professional manner so I can bitch more?


Pushing the Limits – Confide Coaching

July 25, 2011

I have never really been one to acknowledge the merits of life coaching or life coaches. It all seemed a bit too touchy feely for me. I have been to therapy and when I heard about what life coaches do I never really gave it creedance. Then one of my good friend’s Paul Strobl decided to start his own life coaching business, dedicating his life to helping others in this very specific and special way.

Confide Coaching, Paul’s business, asks deep an penetrating questions. These questions start with Paul himself as you can see at this link and Paul’s subsequent Manifesto.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for a person who takes a rigorous account of their surroundings and decides to *DO* something about it. This is what life coaching is all about.

Take therapy and add an action item list and you have life coaching. It is some part about getting to the emotional blockage you have regarding an issue, identifying patterns and tendencies and the “why” behind them, and some part asking the even tougher question, “ok now what are you going to do about it?” and actually identifying step 1!

Coming from a place of business experience (he is an MBA and did financial planning for a long while) Paul’s style adeptly gauges how to knife into an issue, dissect it and reorganize it. There may be some pain involved but those of us who know progress and know what real learning is also know that pain is part of that!

Confide Coaching is not only for the executive or entrepreneur it is for anybody who has something (or some-several-things) that they want to do with their life. Want to train for a marathon? Confide Coaching. Want help with a relationship? Confide. Want to get that promotion? Confide.

Congrats Paul!

Buenos Aires Ranks 4th Noisiest in the World

July 23, 2011

Does  this surprise anyone? What surprises me is what is considered to be news. I actually heard on the news once, on NPR, a very trusted and reliable source, that cuts in education funding MAY result in a lower quality of education in the USA. Oh really? What an insight.

In this case its no different. Buenos Aires is loud. As I write this, I can hear 2 separate construction projects with their hammering and sawing reverberating through the buildings.

Traffic is no different. Traffic noise here can be blamed on a series of things. First the colectivos. It is certainly the majority their fault. With older engines, an incredible noise is made every time they accelerate. And their brakes are even worse. Hello! Oil!

Then you have the constant honking between all of the drivers on the street. There is a strange custom here of honking right when the light turns green. No they dont wait 10-15 seconds to realize that you have been staring and your iphone texting somebody. The light gives an indication of green (with a red to yellow change before the green) and as soon as that happens they give a little beep. Is this really necessary? As if there is not enough noise already!

Then with several construction projects on every block it goes without saying that there is tons of other noise as well.

What I am really interested in, though, is why stuff like this makes the news. Who cares? Does this make any difference on a person’s life at all? We already live here and its not like a person is going to make a decision to move to a city based on whether it is noisy. Am I missing something? I think the press at this point just wants to fill up air space.

The Word Negro and Racism or Lack Thereof In Argentina

September 24, 2010

There is a very interesting word that is used with extreme frequency in Argentine lunfardo. It is “negro”. As I’m sure you know, this word, literally means “black”. But the very interesting thing is that this word is used between friends all the time, in a more real sense, like we use the word “dude” in English.

There is a super interesting podcast that talks about this: Check out Season 1 episode 11.

Very common expressions would be “Que tal negro?”, “Que pasa negrito?” and other variations. This means “Hey man” or “Hey buddy/dude/bro”. And there is certainly nothing negative, in fact it is a term of endearment.

What is incredibly interesting, is the lack of association that this word has with race, even though it is also used, in a very derogatory sense, to mean a person of low class / street person / someone from a poor neighborhood.

In this context, the use would be more like “Che, estos negros siempre estan buscando para robar” or “Jeez, those low-lifes/punks/street kids are always trying to steal.”

Another example would be “Ese es un negro de mierda.” This is extremely insulting but has nothing to do with race. Instead it would mean something like “That guy is a fucking (something… but not the “n” word) dirty thief / criminal / punk¬† (but much stronger).” This can be translated in other ways, but certainly is not indicative of a racial slur.

Yet another example is “Callate negro de mierda” which would be like “Shut up you fucking asshole” (and could be used to insult somebody that cut you off in traffic).

And another example is “Che, todos los Bosteros (Boca fans) son unos negro,” which means that they drink beer out of the can and piss in the street and yell and cause caos.

Negro, then is almost always associated with a person who is a villero, or from villa. A villa in Argentina comes from the full phrase “villa de emergencia” which is a place where someone goes if they have been evicted or are homeless. It is therefore, a word, that when used in a derogatory sense, refers to class, not race. A negro, or villero, is a person of low class, who would be inclined toward violence, thievery, or otherwise untrustworthy and uncivilized behavior.

Great Review for Anuva Wine Tastings in Buenos Aires

July 19, 2010

Thanks Ian!

The Pity of Ice Cream in America

July 17, 2010

It’s been about 2 weeks now since I’ve been in Portland. And it’s summer time (although it was warmer in Buenos Aires than in Portland for the first week) so ice cream is important. But the quality here, even from the famed Tillamook dairy is pitiful. Compared to Persicco, Freddo, Ducco, Tuyu and my other favorites in Argentina, the creaminess is not there, the sweetness is not there and the expression is not there. Ice cream here is dull and listless and really dissappointing!

Beer however… ROCKS!

World Cup Fever in Argentina

June 26, 2010

We all know that Argentina is crazy about football (aka soccer in the USA). People don’t work during games, which are routinely on at places of work or in nearby crowded cafes around the country. But this phenomenon is not limited to Argentina.

Brazil, the U.K., Germany, Italy, and basically every country in the world with a rich tradition in football / soccer (where the heck does the word soccer come from anyway? And why do we (Americans) call American football, “football” if you basically never use your feet to kick the ball?) stop everything for world cup games.

So why the lack of enthusiasm in the U.S.? Well up until this year, the USA national soccer team had never advanced past group play since 1930 which was the first world cup ever! So basically, we’ve had about 70 or 80 years of sucking badly.

Now, with Donovan’s goal in the 90th minute against Algeria, we can expect a meteoric rise in the popularity of football / soccer in the USA, which really can be traced back to the 1994 world cup that was played in the USA. That marked the beginning of the growth in interest, the active marketing efforts to youngsters to get them involved in the sport, and the creation of the MLS (Major League Soccer) in the USA.

Will we Americans ever have the “hinchas” (crazy fan’s) that the rest of the world boasts? I’m not sure if that will happen anytime soon. Although they have begun painting their faces.

Will soccer ever become the most popular spectator sport in the USA like it is in every other country in the world? Doubtful. The reason? We American’s tend to prefer “logical” or “rational” sports where there is a lot of quid pro quo.

In basketball, if you are fouled you get free throws. In American football if there is a penalty, position is won or lost. In baseball, the teams with the best pitching and defense almost always win.

In soccer, however, as is routinely talked about, one team can outplay the other for 90 minutes–even to a dramatic level–and still lose the game on one freak goal, since goals are so scarce. The other problem that I personally have with soccer is that fouls don’t really mean anything unless they occur in the penalty box. But then also, the foul is overly drastic, because a penalty shot almost always results in a goal.

Normal fouls in soccer simply result in a free kick. Unless that free kick is taken from a great angle at the goal and very close to the goal, they never result in a goal, and since fouls are not tallied like they are in basketball, a player can foul as much as he wants without fear of ejection.

Take the Argentina / Greece game of a few days ago. The Greeks kicked the hell out of the Argentines. Literally. They simply kicked them and threw them to the ground a lot. Messi got clobbered so many times and held so many times that it prevented at least 3 goals. Argentina should have won the game 5-0. But since the refs in soccer almost never call fouls away from the ball, and since the fouls they do call effectively stop play and in the case of this game drastically benefit the defense, the game loses is rationality.

It is beautiful to watch, though.

Reserve Buenos Aires


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