Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Best Bean, the Right Bus Stop, the Perfect Cookie

My occasional obsessiveness serves me well in a city that requires pitbull tenacity to get anything accomplished.

For instance, there was the Starbucks Death March. I needed beans ... so at high noon on a hot Buenos Aires day with a vague recollection of where it was, I set off to find it. Unfortunately, I dragged my son's friend along with me. We walked and walked as the day grew hotter, frying the dog piss on the sidewalk.

Matt was too polite to ask if we could call it quits. No, now I was on a mission, and it would not be a mission impossible.

Dear Reader, we did eventually find it and it was well worth it (for me). I compensated poor Matt with a mocha coffee frappe.

Matt and my son, visiting at Christmas, were also subjected to the I'M GOING TO FIND THE TOUR BUS STOP IF IT KILLS ME incident. The tour bus company's brochure gave only vague directions for finding the stop. We asked directions from an English speaking Porteno, walked to the stop, only to see the double decker bus whizz by in another direction. This happened three times. At three different stops.

"Can't we just do the carriage ride in Palermo Park?" whined my son as we walked by the horses. You'd think by know he'd know who he was dealing with.

I stalked that bus like a bird dog. "Run boys!" I yelled as I saw it coming down the avenue in our direction. We arrived breathless and sweating as the bus opened its doors. Victory was mine.

Now I'm into the Tollhouse cookie quest. I'm determined to replicate them here in Argentina even though things keep getting screwed up. Jumbo supermarket was suppose to have chocolate chips according to an alert on the expat's website. I hiked a mile and a half to discover the rumour was wrong. Ah well, a Cadbury dark chocolate bar chopped up would have to do.

At my local market I sought out baking soda, forgetting my translation book at home.

"El horno ... torta," I said, not knowing the word for cookies, and using the word "cake" instead. I pantomined a cake rising in the oven. I was quite proud to use the baking word since I'd just learned it the day before.

There was a hurried consultation among the Chinese clerks. One pulled out nuts. No. Another pulled out coconut. Wrong again. An English speaking gentleman intervened, saying something in Spanish. A package of "polvo para hornear" was produced.

My cookies turned out super puffy and dry as English toast. Clearly something went wrong. I must track the culprit.

Was it the temperature, since my oven is centigrade and I only speak farenheit? My landlord said no.

Did I handle the dough too roughly and upset it? A baker on the Internet said this could happen. Could the baking soda be something else? Ah, yes. Baking powder.

So the quest continues today with baking soda.

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