29 January 2014

Breakfast Buffet

In Argentina you can buy your icecream by the quarter, half or whole litre. A lot of that icecream is dulce de leche flavoured. Argentineans are obsessed with dulce de leche, which is essentially condensed milk cooked down into a caramel with the consistency of a very thick glue. You can buy it at the local supermercado in tins big enough to send a class of 8 year olds into an insulin frenzy. At the breakfast buffet in your hotel there will be small packs of it to smear on your sweet cake (or on your very inferior croissant style pastry, the medialuna, which I would not recommend). Sweet cake smeared with thick caramel seems a strange breakfast choice but the Argentineans have yet to realise that a café can serve pastries, and so they have to work with what they’ve got. You can buy a coffee. You can buy a pastry. Just not in the same shop (medialunas are excepted - but they don’t count). Want to make a lot of money? Open a café in Buenos Aires that serves breakfast with pastries… but don’t forget to charge American dollars because the local peso inflates faster than a dead rat in the sun.

Speaking of breakfast buffets, perhaps one of the strangest I’ve ever encountered was in Buenos Aires, simply because it included small bowls of jelly. The man, let’s call him a chef, in charge of said buffet was more concerned with presentation than actual food, to the point where the remaining slices of bread would be rearranged immediately after you’d taken one. Not having made the conceptual leap to serving pastries, he must have been at his wits’ end as to what to serve the few foreigners who visited his buffet each morning, picking at their selections before exiting stage right; leaving behind a plate of cold toast and half eaten fruit, never to return. Jelly must have seemed like an inspired choice. It’s in a ramekin so you can keep it neat. If no one eats it you can put it back in the fridge and try it out again tomorrow. The lack of an identifiable flavour made it a little disconcerting, but overall I would count it a standout success amid the caramel smeared poverty of the Argentinean breakfast buffet.

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