A look at cooking freely within constraints –be they environmental or culinary or other.

Having major food allergies (all things cow related, shellfish, mushrooms and beer), I have had to adapt how and what I cook in order to eat “normally” – this in turn cultivated a love of cooking and feeding people.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bienvenido a Buenos Aires! Here's your Cooking Cubicle. Now get cooking!

This is the kitchen that I have for the next three months.

Challenging, for sure. Although I know others here in Buenos Aires who have smaller, so I should not complain. Instead, I am going to take the challenge and use it beyond what it appears capable of.

Right now I am trying to focus on one-pan meals. It makes my life a lot easier to do this, and my boyfriend Sorin is happier when there are fewer dishes to wash. Of course, he would be happiest if there were no dishes to wash, but there is a rule in my kitchen - who ever does the cooking does not wash the dishes. I have offered to switch roles multiple times, but he for some reason has never taken me up on that…. Strange…. ;-) I am hoping to get brave soon and try using the oven. The stove is gas and has no pilot, so it is light a match and time it right to light the stove top and oven. So far I have mastered the stove top, the oven however, is slightly more difficult and therefore potentially more exciting that the stove top. The heat is also not regulated, making baking almost sport like, so that post is going to be very interesting, especially if I fail miserably.

Being in Argentina makes my life in the kitchen a little more challenging in ways not associated with the size of my “kitchen” – I can’t even call it that without laughing – let call it my “Cooking Cubicle” instead. So, I am in Argentina, the land of the cow. Where all things are beef and dairy. Not easy on a girl who can’t eat those things. Although I am able to find goat’s milk cheese at my local (thank god) Arabe Confiteria, they sell their version of Feta cheese. It’s not in brine, it’s not crumbly yet smooth, and it does not have that lovely lemony sense that made me fall in love with Feta. But, it is Goat’s milk cheese, it tastes good, and it works. They also sell really wonderful nuts and dried fruits, albeit slightly pricey, so I no longer have search for those.

I have also found Leche de Coco – or coconut milk – but I have to trek to Barrio Chino (Chinatown, which is more China Street that China Town, but I digress) to buy it at a reasonable price, which is about a 20 minute bus ride. If I want fresh Leche de Soya (or Soy milk), this is also where I must go. I can find pasteurized Soy milk in the large market in my area, but it is not as good as the fresh stuff. Spices are also slightly challenging to find, but again, Barrio Chino to the rescue. I have discovered that no matter where you are in the world, find China Town and you will find spice. Although on this trip, I ended up bringing my own spices from North America, which made my luggage smell marvelous! Basil, Oregano, Thyme, Cardamom, Turmeric, Whole Peppercorns, to name a few.

So, finding ingredients can be challenging, but it can also be rewarding. I buy all my veggies and fruits from a green grocer (Verdulería), and it is whatever has come in fresh from the farm, and it is FRESH. It is often not pretty, but who cares when it tastes amazing. Often when I have a specific dish in mind, they may not have all the ingredients I need. Welcome to South America. Adaptation is essential. I no longer go to the green grocer with something in mind, instead I go to be inspired by what is fresh and looks good.

Tonight I am going to make Chicken Curry over Rice. I’ll take pictures and post the recipe tomorrow for you and let you know what my boyfriend, also known as “The Grumpy Romanian” thought of the dish. :-)

Chau Chau!

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