Thursday, November 5, 2009


I want to extend my Madison OATMEAL offer to Buenos Aires. If someone is not convinced on the deliciousicity, I am an oat missionary and will make oats for people who want to come over and learn or who want me to bring a tupperwear of it to a cafe for some tea and oats. and find a time to . . let oats into your life.

. . OATcarly and CarlOATMEAL.

Sometimes I think I should change the name of this blog to reflect my favorite food: Oatmeal. Recently perusing the New York Times I found an article for Healthy foods for under $1.

Number ONE on the list is, you guessed it, oats: "High in fiber and good for cholesterol. A dollar buys you a week’s worth of breakfast or keeps you well-supplied in oatmeal cookies."

In Buenos Aires, Oatmeal is not difficult to find; the challenge for me was obtaining the old fashion style rolled oats (avena gruesa). Going to the dietetics stores in your neighborhood and asking for this product will help you figure out which stores consistently carry it.

I was fortunate enough to find Willy, a native Bolivian who has lived in Argentina for many years (he's a Tango teacher) and is the owner of a natural food store a block from my house on the corner of Juncal and Ecuador. For 5 pesos, I get a large bag of rolled oats that generally last me a week (but that is calculating that sometimes I consume it twice a day, and rarely does a day go by where it is not enjoyed).

Also, at his and other neighborhood stores, take advantage of getting other products you find on the NYT $1 list and my own personal cheapy favorites: peanuts, raisins, bran, yogurt and Tofu.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Custom Carli Cereals

In Argentina people often say to me: "¡Vos solamente comés pasto! [You only eat the lawn!] 

This is probably in part due to the fact that I have a shopkeeper named Willy who I go to once a week to buy my oats.

And now I have found a place to regularly buy my granola too: Granola Mix 

They have premixes and breakfast options, but the definite appeal of the site is that I can design exactly the granola (bar or loose) I want. 

I made one healthy mix --naming it CarliMix, to keep with the theme of egotistically inserting my name into all of my favorite foods--with a Muesli base and adding raisins, figs, cashews and pistachios. (19 pesos)

And one desserty mix--ChocoCarli--with a Choco-granola base, golden raisins, walnuts, marshmallows and chocolate chips. (22 pesos)

For 2-4 pesos more, you can get the granola delivered right to your door if you live in Barrio Norte, Belgrano, Microcentro, Nuñez, Palermo, Recoleta or Puerto Madero.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

How to make your own. . . Vegetarian Menu

It is rare in the U.S. to walk into a place and have there actually be NOTHING on the menu that a vegetarian can eat, even if sometimes it means combining side dishes to make a meal there is at least SOMETHING.

Today I walked into a small "pancho" restaurant--near my school across from the famous concert hall Luna Park--which is a place that sells hotdogs and some burgers, too, and there was literally nothing on the menu meant for non-carnivorous me.  So, in my forward north-american, porteño-cringing way I decided to ask "hay algo vegetariano [do you have anything vegetarian]".  The Buenos Aires native I was with reddened and put up his hand as if asking for forgiveness for my defiance against his country, as he waited for his two hotdogs he had just ordered.  

The answer was first a laugh and then a no.  I noticed on the menu that there was a small egg sandwich (if you are a vegetarian that doesn't eat eggs or cheese, this entry is not for you), that had jam, cheese and egg.  I asked if they could simply not place the slice of ham on my sandwich in order to make it vegetarian.  There was an awkward moment where all of the non-vegetarians looked around puzzled at each other wondering if I could be serious.  As I often say, it is not that it is particularly hard to find vegetarian options if you know where to look and what to ask for, but it is certainly difficult to make someone understand that I don't eat things that were part of a living animal. 

Amused, they prepared my egg and cheese sandwich adding lettuce and tomato.  I garnished it with ketchup and crushed chips.  They asked me for 4 pesos (a little more than one U.S. dollar), and I haggled them down to 3 pesos (less than one U.S. dollar) since I was not getting the piece of ham.  My original plan was to go buy a salad for 30 pesos at a natural food deli a block away, but for under a buck, I couldn't resist.  

The moral of this story is that asking for the vegetarian option in a country that does not understand vegetarianism may not be as successful as simply investigating the menu and showing the restaurant how they could make something with meat ok for us herbivores (at least of the lacto-ovo variety, in this case).

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Argentines, if you love McDonalds, you've got to try the latest product from the U.S.!

An article in the NYT by Mark Bittman starts with this lead: "ADORED in the United States, ignored or mocked almost everywhere else, peanut butter is among the most flavorful and reliable single-ingredient processed foods."

And it's largely true.  When I say that peanut butter is my favorite food (along with oatmeal, pumpkin, dark chocolate and grapes), I frequently get the following reactions living in Argentina:

1. Doesn't that make you fat? 
-Carly the Vegetarian: Argentina is famous for dulce de leche, empanadas dripping with cheese, and facturas.  Any of these products eaten in excess will undoubtedly make you fat; same with peanut butter.

2. We don't have peanut butter here in Argentina. 
-CtV: It is not hard to get peanut butter here; most natural food stores and supermarkets in Chinatown have a homestyle version.  Also, if you want an expensive import from North America, many large grocery stores will have a couple of jars just calling out to us capricious Americans.  So, it's not that it isn't here.

3. That is so American. 
-CtV: So is The Simpsons, but Argentines can't go ten minutes without making reference to them.  So is McDonalds, but there is one on every corner in Buenos Aires, so that is not an argument for not embracing this North American delicacy. 

4. One time, long ago in a moment I barely remember, I tried peanut butter and I didn't like it and I will never give it another chance. 
-CtV: No.  I don't believe you.  Bring me some Cerealitas and I will spread some on it and you will like it.

I frequently argue for the versatility and utility of peanut butter, but this NYT article is an excellent reaffirmation that just adding a spoonful of it to almost anything (within reason) will undoubtedly make the dish better. 

Bittman asserts, curries, oatmeal, noodles, hummus all benefit from this seldom-appreciated-internationally product.  

Also, as my friend Will and I discovered last year at an International Potluck, peanut butter finger sandwiches are a unique way to represent our peanut butter-obsessed country.

There are some positive and negative aspects of globalization, but this non-proliferation of peanut butter treaty that the world seems to have against the U.S. is unfounded and not good for my personal international relations.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Everyone finds something in Argentina to fall in love with. . .

Recently it has come to the public's attention that there are many things in Argentina to fall in love with.

I probably won't give a press conference crying about it, but I must admit that I myself am also not being faithful: I have recently begun a love affair with the Argentine soy milk AdeS.  Much to my own chagrin, I find it much more satisfying than its North American counterpart, Silk Soymilk fortified with fiber.  

AdeS stands for Alimento de Soja (Soy Alimentation in English).  The majority of the products sold by AdeS are actually soy juices; if you ask at a grocery store in Buenos Aires for soy milk they will simply say that in Argentina it does not exist.  However, if you ask for AdeS, you will be sent to the soda aisle where there is a small section with boxes of soy drinks.  

I have yet to hear a single Argentine person tell me that they like AdeS soy milk; they know that it exists, but find it disgusting (although I welcome being told otherwise).  A professor of mine who is also a vegetarian recoiled in disgust when I said I liked soy milk.

But at $5 pesos per liter, I think I have found a new source of protein to help me not slowly deteriorate while in the CarneLandia (Beef Land).  It makes a mean bowl of bran with banana and raisins, but delicious to drink plain too.  It is also fortified with Vitamin A, C, D, E, and B6 and boasts iron, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin B12 and calcium.  

The one draw back is that it comes warm in a box, so throw it in the fridge right away, because it needs to be served "bien frío." 

So for the purposes of this blog, my amorous situation with AdeS can modify today's headlines from Argentine newspaper Diario Popular: Scandal with Yanqui Vegetarian and Argentine Lover.

Special thanks to José Maria "Tucu" Costa for giving me my first box of AdeS. . and for the endless flow of yerba maté.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Flavor? I had forgotten what it was. . .

Last night one of my dearest old friends reappeared in my life: Flavor.  It is a general consensus with the expats that I have met in Buenos Aires that traditional Argentine cuisine does not exactly excite the palette.  The Argentine beef aside, finding anything with a strong taste is a definite challenge.

Perusing the reviews of the Indian restaurant and pub in Palermo called Bangalore & Co.  I was shocked by some of the luke-warm sentiment surrounding the restaurant.  In fact, after sharing this colorful and satisfying meal with a friend of Indian decent from Malaysia-- who taught me how to shovel various flavorful puré dishes into my mouth using pita bread and my thumb (but not teaching me how to not look like kind of a doofus while attempting it)--I was as enchanted by the atmosphere as with the food.  

Maybe I am speaking out of flavor deprivation, but upon ordering the vegetarian sampler platter for two, my uncontrollable lust for turmeric dishes and any member of the squash family was at last satiated upon tasting the pumpkin curry.  Included in the platter was a spinach/cheese mixture and a some potato balls in a tasty sauce.  Pita bread and rice accompanies the dishes to assist in the subsequent shoveling into the mouth.

This is not a strictly vegetarian restaurant (in fact, the waitress brought us bread and chicken to start with and looked confused when I asked if it was meat, explaining my vegetarian 'conundrum'), but the options are ample enough and good enough that if you have forgotten what flavor is, this is an ideal option.

**Ojo: Make a reservation by calling 4779-2621, because we went on a Wednesday night and it was pretty crowded.  They don't serve dinner until 9p.m. (which in porteño actually means about 9:15 or 9:30, depending on their mood).  It is located on Humboldt 1416 (esq. Niceto Vega). 

Monday, April 27, 2009

List of Vegetarian Restaurants in Buenos Aires according to the Unión Vegetariana

I will throughout the year be going to the various restaurants to test out their vegetarian cuisine:

My hope is to form a group of expats and natives alike who want to get together and share this healthy, yet delicious food together.  If you are in Buenos Aires and you want to come with me PLEASE e-mail (vegetarianism not necessary, merely a zest for trying new food):


La Reina Kunti-3461 Humahuaca

Los Sabios-Corrientes 3733

Sendero Vegetal-4417 Av. Diaz Velez


Soy Arroz- Arribeños 2221 (Chinatown)

Centro (Downtown):

Bodhi-Chile 1763

Granix-165 Florida 1st floor (1*Piso)

Fenix-Avenida Belgrano 3331

La Huerta del Sol-LaValle 895 1st floor (1*Piso)

Lotos-Córdoba 1577


Verde Llama-Jorge Newbery 3623


Krishna Veggie Lunch-Malabia 1833

Senutre-3090 República Árabe Siria

String-Borges 2284


Govinda-2054 Andonaegui

San Telmo:

Abuela Pan-Bolívar 707

Villa Crespo:

Alma Zen-Malabia 484

Villa Devoto:

Gopal-Sanabria 2633

This list was taken from the Unión Vegetariana website, but I intend to find more.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Golden Curry Oatmeal

Like tofu, rice and plain yogurt, I am convinced that oatmeal is one of those foods that is like a blank canvas.  And contrary to the notion that oatmeal can only be eaten sweet, this traditional breakfast can easily be turned into a savory dinner.  And for vegetarians in Buenos Aires, especially those trying to eat for cheap, oatmeal is an excellent and filling option.  

Although my morning oats always include a banana, salt and cinnamon, curry, a common Indian spice with a tumeric base can easily be a substitute.  The book Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni includes a chapter discussing the yellow root:

"Each spice has a special day to it. For turmeric it is Sunday, when light drips fat and butter-colored into the bins to be soaked up glowing, when you pray to the nine planets for love and luck." 

Curry--or at least the tumeric base--is said to have health benefits as well. So, with some raisens and almonds, my Golden Curry Oatmeal makes for a very nutritious meal.

1 cup water
1/2 cup dry old-fashioned oatmeal
5-10 almonds (chopped)
1-2 tbsp raisins
pinch of salt
teaspoon of sweet curry
honey to drizzle on top

Boil water in a small saucepan 
Add dry oats
Stir occasionally and decrease the heat
Add salt and curry
Add raisins and almonds
Keep stirring until the mix becomes thick
Remove heat and stir
Put the golden oat mix in a bowl
Drizzle honey on the top

This should only take 5-10 minutes to make.

To avoid the inevitable boredom of a soy milanesa,  which is often suggested to me as one of my Buenos Aires vegetarian options, Golden Curry Oatmeal is cheap, healthy and doesn't taste like a shoebox.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

BIO in Palermo

Eating healthy is certainly a luxury.  The first page of the Buenos Aires organic and vegetarian restaurant Bio menu explains the benefits of eating foods sans toxins and chemicals, perhaps trying to justify the prices that follow, which for Argentina, are a little steep.  Granola North Americans who are used to shelling out for organic produce at co-ops or farmers’ markets may be delighted by these prices, but when I can get a plate of mashed pumpkin for 8 pesos (US$2), I am less pleased to spend 35 pesos (US$9) on curry vegetables.

But for a Saturday afternoon splurge, Bio provides the protein that vegetarians may be missing during the week.  The 5 peso (US$1.35) cubierto [table charge] includes thick wheat bread with a pumpkin dipping sauce and a shot of pear juice.  Appetizers go for as little as 4 pesos (US$1.08) for the empanada of the day to as much as 28 pesos (US$7.57) for an elaborate starter salad. There are as many salad options for entrees as warm prepared dishes, with the favored grain being quinoa. 

My main complaint about Argentine cuisine, besides that it revolves primary around thick slabs of meat, is that it is quite sosa [plain], and this can be extended to some of the food at Bio.  My dining partner, who ordered pasta, kept complaining that it was too dry and needed more sauce or flavor.  I was warned before ordering my curry dish that it was muy picante [very spicy], but after my brief pepper-garlic sauce phase earlier this year, my meal didn’t even phase my palette.  So perhaps I cannot fault the restaurant for this complaint so much as the Argentine culinary tradition in general.

The atmosphere leaves nothing to be desired.  On the corner of Humboldt (2199) and Guatemala, the small space in the neighborhood of Palermo is well utilized with a lime green motif on the exterior of the building extending inside to the placemats and seat cushions.  The color is reminiscent of the green movement and accurately suggests that the food going into your body is as good for your health as it is for the environment.  There are as many foreigners present as porteños [people from Buenos Aires], and this fact is reflected in the menu translated into English.

Although the portions seem small at first glance, like sushi it is deceptively filling.  I made my home walking through the Plaza Serrano to see all the chic designers’ crafts and clothes and promptly returned home to take a long siesta, very satisfied that I ha just eaten “nada más ni nada menos que alimenos [no more or no less than simply nourishment].”    

Friday, April 10, 2009

Vegetarians in Buenos Aires Should Unite

While perusing and google-ing about the internet, I read a fact that I had previously expected but never had in front of me in black and white: Argentines eat more meat per capita daily than anywhere else in the world.  So for vegetarians, this simply means that there is less accomodation for our way of life.  

Just days ago, I returned to this meat-eating capital of the world.  I intend to settle here for at least a year and I want to propose starting a network of vegetarians in Buenos Aires.  I will post here tips for vegetarian survival, restaurant reviews, as well as events for vegetarians.  Please email me with your interest:

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Row row row your. . bOATmeal

Despite hours and hours I have poured over graduate school applications, it has recently become my dream to open an oatmeal cafe.  It would be like a coffee shop but my specialty is oatmeal; people hang out and fill up on a food that my dad has describe as 'sticking to your ribs'.  As my future customers use the wifi to delete their clogged inboxes, the oatmeal's heart friendly qualities mirrors this action, letting blood flow freely.  But like any great establishment, I need a name that is borderline-NPR-too-clever-for-our-own-good, yet descriptive, yet welcoming.  

So far, my most punny friend, Jared has come up with two brilliant ideas to get anyone else willing to participate started:

row row row your boatmeal  
Poor Ridge. . . the end to your GRUELing journey

I guiltily looked up "oat" in an online rhyming dictionary and came up with 
blOAT (Steff is advising against this one)
Billy OAT gruff

Steff, my soulmate, deserves credit for: 
Oatally Oatmeal
Riding the OATtails of glory

So, the challenge is to come up with an even more clever, even more delicious name.  Think about the words: oat, meal, fiber, quaker, porridge, etc.  

And although I am off to graduate school hopefully in April, hopefully my practical skills will help me accrue the capital so that I can open this fiberful quiant (or quaker) pipe dream.