Parks, Plazas and Pastries: Mendoza, Argentina, Jan. 2007

Postcards of Mendoza, Argentina, don't do it justice. They can tell only about how pretty are the city's plazas, parks and nearby vineyards and olive groves.
They don't tell you about catching the scent of a rich meat-in-wine dish on a summer night's breeze, and then tracking it down at the food stands at a free concert in the park, whose gate is seen to the left.
Postcars don't tell you about of getting the freshest pasta--one plate served with a pesto of fresh parsley and good cheese and olive oil and the other with a red sauce--and a nice bottle of local wine ..for $10.

Postcards also can't tell you about lingering at the Dün Ken cafe's outdoor tables. My husband and I ordered the same breakfast special every morning, shown to the right. David and I each would get a cafe con leche and glass of fresh squeezed orange juice, and then would split three little croissants and a plate with another three little pastries..for $5.

Then we would stroll through plazas like the one shown below.

Mendoza has a nice bit of a time-warp feel to it. A few new Toyotas mix in streets dominated by old little Peugeots and Citroens and American trucks that looked even older.

These were from a more imaginative Detroit than we know today.
There were shows in the plazas for little kids in the evenings. A group of children were sitting cross-legged on the ground, laughing and absorbed in one of the shows. I walked out of my way to see what they were looking at. It was a Punch and Judy puppet show.

We spent our last night at a free outdoor salsa concert at Parque General San Martin. We grabbed a table and ordered some carne a la olla and little cups of Mendoza wine.
The woman running the counter wore an apron with vertical stripes in the blue and white of the Argentine flag. I told her how much we liked the food and asked what went into carne a la olla. Meat, wine, oregano, garlic, peppers, she told us.
A man in his 6Os approached us as we ate. He asked very nicely if we could let him knew when we were done with our table, stressing that he didn't want to rush us. He had a large group seeking seats. It looked like he had about a dozen friends with him.
That impressed us. David and I are always trying to recruit friends to join us at outdoor concerts and movies at home in Washington, D.C. David even started a "spreadsheet of fun" to keep track of events. It's now advanced into a database posted on his web site,
"We wouldn't be freaks here," David said, looking out at the crowd.
There were more people at the salsa concert than we see at many D.C. events. Groups of teenagers sharing snacks, families with full picnics. And, we'd passed plazas downtown full of people watching little shows or just enjoying a warm summer evening in a place filled with fountains, trees and statues.
We gave our table to the man's group after we finished, and went in search of ice cream. Wrapped factory-made ice cream on a stick is not the Mendoza way. The ice cream truck was filled with containers of incredibly sweet and rich ice cream.
They sold a cone that holds two scoops side by side. We chose to split one of those. David got a caramel flavor, dulce de leche. I got something called sky, or cielo. It was blue and tasted of sugar and cream. Heavenly, and romantic, in a sweet way.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ahh, I've been to Mendoza and it is just the perfect vacation spot. I don't think a trip to Argentina is complete without stopping there for a few days. Its a small, sophisticated, cultured town surrounded by sheer beauty!