There is no better way to get to know a culture than through its food

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Open Campus Block

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CIEE Buenos Aires

While I was a foodie long before I came to Buenos Aires, something about spending so much time alone in the city really sparked a new dimension to the way I ate, searched for restaurants, and talked about my experiences. Whenever I met a new Argentinian, I would make sure to ask them about their favorite restaurant, or a place that I simply needed to try, and add it to my ever growing list in my Notes app. This list would serve as a guide as I ambled around neighborhoods like Palermo Hollywood, Chacarita, Nuñez, and Balvanera.

During the week was when I did the most damage, having what seemed like endless amounts of time before and after my classes (I only had one per day). And yes, it definitely helped that I now had an excuse to go out for a meal twice before my daily dinner with my host mother, since it is customary in Argentina to eat four meals: breakfast, lunch, merienda, and dinner. Discarding the usual notion of a merienda, which is a light snack of a pastry, fruit, or tea, I would instead find myself eating dumplings in Barrio Chino or tacos in Palermo at 5:30 pm on a Wednesday. I will admit, from time to time, my newly developed eating habits would get in the way of other hobbies I had…for example I would chow down on an oversized Bondiola sandwich for my merienda, before promptly realizing that I had basketball practice for la UCA in an hour.

But I never did change my habits, or want to, because those hour or half hour long meals of mine during my afternoons in Buenos Aires assured me that I was living life the way life is meant to be lived on a study abroad experience. I would usually be alone, giving myself time to ponder whatever craziness happened over the weekend, or just whatever was on my mind. I’d chat with the waiters and waitresses, sometimes even the owners, since they were always interested to hear why a gringo like myself I was in Buenos Aires.

But most importantly, rain or shine, outdoors or indoors, with cloth napkins or none at all, I would eat. I would eat like I’ve always loved to eat; nothing on my mind but the food, trying to savor every bite (but sometimes eating too quickly), and always finishing my plate.