Thursday, April 30, 2009

Get Aboard the Meals on Wheels Bus

We all have fears about getting older.
For some it might be accumulating life's wrinkles and brown spots.
For others it could be loss of mobility or hearing or other symptom of a body's aging.

But for all too many here in Alameda County and elsewhere it is being able to afford a healthy, nutritious and tasty meal. (Or any meal at all).

That's where the Alameda County (CA) Meals on Wheels comes in.

I will be attending the organization's Five-Star-Night Gala, hosted by food and radio personality Narsai David, tomorrow night. We went last year as well and it was a fabulous night of culinary excess (with dancing) that never lost sight of its goal -- helping those who by age, income, health or other circumstance are helped by having a hot meal delivered to their doors, something that's done for more than 2,200 seniors every day in Alameda County.

Food for the May 1st gala is provided by local restaurants ranging from Flora , Bay Wolf and Citron to Picante and Bakeshop Betty. But the evening really isn't about the food. Except it is, only not the food I get to eat, but the food this gala will help put into the mouths (and the hearts) of its clientele.

The organization has funding for only half of each meal and must appeal to the public for the rest of the cost. To feed a senior a meal seven days a week for a year costs about $1,440, about the cost of one day in a hospital. The meals and the other services the six agencies that comprise the Alameda County Meals on Wheels organization offer help keep senior citizens independent and in their own homes.

I don't know if tickets are still available, but your donation to Meals on Wheels is always appreciated. Click here for info on tickets or to just donate. Or maybe make a bid on the on-line auction.

If you are not an Alameda County resident and you'd like to support or get services from your local Meals on Wheels organization, the Meals on Wheels Association of America provides a link to lcoate local agencies.

Update: The event raised $108,500, enough to serve 21,700 meals to seniors in the next year.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sign Up Now for Oakand Asian Cooking Classes

Last year I had the extraordinary chance to participate in a remarkable series of cooking classes at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center (OACC) in downtown Oakland.

Program director April Kim has put together this year's line up of classes focusing on fresh, seasonal traditional dishes of Oakland's Asian communities. The classes promise to be just as rewarding (and tasty.)

To register, please call April Kim (510) 637- 0462. To see my photos, write ups and slide shows from last year's classes, click here.

Here's the info from the OACC:

"This series of eight Asian culinary workshops will focus on traditional food culture driven by seasonal and local ingredients. The aim of these workshops is to keep traditional culinary practice and food culture alive and thriving, focusing on the oral passing of knowledge and personal story telling; fostering the kind of dialogue that only happens in the kitchen. Each workshop will be followed by lunch provided by OACC and featuring the freshly made seasonal dish."

The OACC is asking for a $5-$30 donation per class to cover the cost of the food and materials, but will offer scholarships if needed. Registration is limited to 15 participants per workshop, and is on a first come first served basis.

The Workshops:

  • May 2, 10:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. Fresh Bamboo Soup and Watercress Salad, Laos, by Sokham Senthavilay (She is shown in the photo above teaching last year's class on larb, green papaya salad and sticky rice.)
  • May 16, 10:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. Banh Xeo and Spring Herbs, Vietnam, by Thy Tran of the Asian Culinary Forum and
  • June 6, 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Demystifying Chinese Greens, China, by Linh Phu, former Chef at Millennium Restaurant in San Francisco. Please note that this workshop will begin in the grocery stores of Oakland Chinatown to see and talk about the greens and then move to the OACC kitchen. Limited to 10 participants.
  • July 18, 10:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Riot of Summer Vegetables and Korean Sides, Korea, by Cecilia Hae Jin Lee, author of Eating Korean
  • July 25, 10:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Green Curry from Scratch, Thailand, Chat Mingkwan, author of The Best of Regional Thai Cuisine and Buddha’s Table-Thai Vegetarian

    More workshops will be scheduled in the fall and winter.

    FYI: The OACC also sponsors a regular series of fruit and vegetable carving classes. For more information on those and other OACC classes, please click here.

  • UPDATE: Some of the classes have been so popular, extra sessions have been added. Contact April for more info or to get on the mailing list for the next series.

    Wednesday, April 22, 2009

    Buenos Aires Photo of the Day - At the Museum of Mate

    Mate is a drink (and sometimes an obsession) that literally stimulates Argentineans. Some sip it all day, enjoying the caffeine and other stimulants in the brew. Others savor it as a link to Argentina's gaucho past. It's a rare tourist who doesn't come home with a mate gourd or cup.

    The "good herb" is packed into a gourd or other drinking vessel, not quite boiling water is poured in until the leaves are saturated and then it is drunk from a filter/straw called a bombilla.

    Then, more warm water is poured in and the mate cup and straw is passed to the next person. Mate drinking is a very social experience.

    The basic mate flavor is slightly bitter and herbal, but flavored (lemon or citrus is a favorite) mate is available as is pre-sweetened. One visitor at the Museum of Mate in Tigre told us her favorite type of mate as a child was "burnt sugar," made by first putting in the sugar and then adding and removing a hot coal. The hot coal caramelized the sugar flavoring the mate drink.

    All over Buenos Aires I saw people of all ages carrying a mate gourd in one hand and toting a thermos strapped to them for refilling their cup with warm water.

    The Museum of Mate (or actually the Museo de Mate) is at Lavalle 289 in Tigre, less than an hour train ride from downtown Buenos Aires. I couldn't find a web page, but the phone number in Argentina is 4506-9594. I'll update this when I find the url. While the small museum and its collection of mate paraphernalia is charming, the tours and signage are all in Spanish. Luckily, there were other visitors who were able to translate for us. The highlight was sitting in the courtyard and participating in the mate drinking workshop. (I know it was probably bad form but I just had to do a sneaky wipe of the bombilla when I was passed the gourd. I still shudder at the chance I took -- germs from strangers! Oh no!)

    Here in the U.S, I've spotted some of the Argentinean brands of mate (or yerba mate) in Latin American grocery stores. There is also an excellent company that imports mate and also offers in a more Americanized format -- in tea bags. I met one of the owners of the company at the Fancy Food Show and was impressed with the product and the company behind it -- Guayaki Yerba Mate. The website also has detailed instructions on how to prepare the drink.

    Buenos Aires Tourist Tip: See this post for more info on my time in Tigre. There is also an art museum and a naval museum to explore, but most visitors are there to spend the day on the river. Shop around for your mate cup, you see the "usual" gourd and or wood and leather ones in many venues. I bought a gourd and resin beauty at the San Telemo street fair. I bought my mate at a local grocery store at a big savings from purchasing it at the souvenir and crafts places. I also found very inexpensive mate cups there as well. The oddest mate cup I saw was made of white ceramic with the words I love my grandma in your choice of Hebrew or Englishized Yiddish.

    Sunday, April 19, 2009

    My First Follower!

    Welcome to Cassie Lynott, my first official Blogger Blog Appetit follower.
    Thanks for the honor, Cassie.
    Please let me know if you have any specific interests you'd like me to feature.
    Watch for those empanada recipes, I'm working on the drafts right now!

    Thursday, April 16, 2009

    Sooner or Later You Are Going to Drool

    Over the photos and recipes I have for cookies, for Passover goodies (well better late than never), for empanadas and other Argentinean goodies and much more. What I don't have is time right now.

    I hope to get cracking on at least a few of these write ups so I can share them.

    Watch this space.


    Tuesday, April 14, 2009

    Buenos Aires Photo of the Day - My First Empanada in Argentina

    This is a photo of my very first empanada eaten in Buenos Aires -- a verdura beauty stuffed with greens and cheese at El San Juanino (which I've written about before in the tourist tips here and here is a link with some pix of the outside of the restaurant). It is located in Recoleta, at 1515 Posadas, and as one poster on a forum pointed out, is probably the cheapest (and possibly tastiest) restaurant in that upscale neighborhood.

    I have a lot more to say about empanadas including my cooking class and my own adaptions, but don't have the time to post more now. But watch for more on the topic!

    Saturday, April 11, 2009

    Buenos Aires Photo of the Day - La Boca, the Economic Tourist Theory about the Price of Coca-Cola and Fileteado

    I chose this photo for several reasons.

    First, it is a good example of a Bueno Aires style of decorating called fileteado -- highly decorative and colorful it originally was the work of Italian immigrant artists.

    Second, this is the colorful, albeit highly touristy, Caminto section of La Boca, a district settled by Italians and other immigrants who worked in the ports. Buildings are very colorful here, originally because the workers used assorted color paints leftover from the shipyards to paint their homes and businesses and now because tourists come and take photos.

    Third, because my son (the one that was formerly the Future Pastry Chef and is now known as the Future Architect) has a theory about the affordability of visiting different countries based on the price of of a 20-ounce bottle of Coke. In England, the price had been 2 pounds (roughly $4 when he was there) and in Europe, 2 Euros (about 3 bucks). When I was in Buenos Aries I paid about 3-4 pesos, around a dollar from the small corner snack stores (called kiosks) for my occasional bottle of diet Coke, a bit less in a grocery store, a bit more in a cafe or restaurant.

    My preferred drink of choice was aqua mineral con gas. This was about half the price of the sodas (which are called gas or gaseous in Buenos Aires).

    Buenos Aires Tourist Tip: Check out the colorful Caminto area, but recognize it is all a tourist set up. Lots of street cafes with live tango, gaucho dancing and music. It is strictly a daytime scene since all the guidebooks and locals say to stay away from the neighborhood at night. I can't vouch for that, but since the appeal is all visual, I don't know that a night time visit would be rewarding anyway.

    Interested in learning fileteado-style painting? One business is offering Spanish language courses in the morning with painting lessons in the afternoon. All you need is tango lessons in the evening you'd be a regular Porteno in no time!

    Want a fileteado souvenir? Some of the crafts and street markets feature fileteado works. I think the best I saw was at the San Telemo Sunday fair (two of the best artisans were practically in the center of Plaza Durrango at the ferria, more info in my tourist tip here). Many of the more touristy stores in San Telemo also carried plaques with saying decorated in fileteado styles. I liked the ones done on metal best, many are done on wood and didn't look as nice.

    Friday, April 10, 2009

    Buenos Aires Photo of the Day - How Sweet It Is

    Life in Buenos Aires is sweet, at least as pictured on these sugar packets I got in the southern suburb of Adrogue. It was a a very nice cafe with shelves of gluten-free products.

    We had taken the train there and were walking the few blocks to the cooking class when I realized in my insistence that we build in extra time, I had made us almost an hour early. The cafe was charming and the cafe con leche was good. Plus I got these cool sugar packets as souvenirs.

    Buenos Aires Tourist Tip: Be sure you always save your coins in Argentina. Coins (monedas) seem to be in very short supply and you need them for buses and for small purchases. At the Constitution rail station in Buenos Aires (where we took the train to Adrogue) we saw a long line snaking through the station. I can't be sure because my Spanish is so eccentric (well, bad), but I think they were lined up to change bills into coins.

    You also want to keep a stash of smaller peso bills, since not every merchant wants to or can cash the larger ($100 peso - about $28 US) bills. One tip I read somewhere and used worked well. Most cash machines in Buenos Aires will accept request for withdrawals in $10 peso increments so request $590 pesos and you'll get five $100 peso notes and nine $10 ones.
    One other caution, because of Argentinean issues (not sure exactly what they are), cash withdrawals are very limited, about $600-700 pesos at a time (although you can do mulitple withdrawals in one day). This meant a lot more fees from my bank at home because of the more frequent withdrawals.

    Tuesday, April 07, 2009

    For Passover Maybe You Should Fuss (Well, at Least a Little)

    I've been planning a guide to Passover planning and cooking. The first Seder (or home-base service and ritual meal) is Wednesday night, April 8. A repeat performance is the next night. (My big "public" seder is the second night. Right now we have about 28 people attending, but the number kind of ebbs and flows.)

    I thought I would write about how to have a fuss-free Peasch, but then I started thinking about it. If ever a dinner should involve some thought, planning and specialness, this one should. So fuss as much is appropriate for you and your life and consider these resources for your Seder and the entire eight days (except in Israel where it's seven, but that's another story) of Passover.

    I kind of am running out of time to put together the big Passover Spectacular I had in mind, so let me just list these links for those who are looking for some more info and I'll add more as I collect them to make this post more complete.

    For recipes, what goes on the Seder plate and celebrity menus, check out Food Network's Passover guide.

    For recipes and suggestions on how to have a gluten-free passover, check out Gluten-Free Bay
    Kosher Recipes for Gluten-Free Living .
    The blog also has it's own Passover Links section.

    Here's a link to whatever Blog Appetit has posted on the holiday.

    For a comprehensive guide of what's ok for Passover and what's not (at least if you are a Conservative Ashkenazi Jew) you can download the latest edition of the Temple Beth Abraham newsletter here with all that info.

    Judaism 101 has several posts on the holiday that a worth checking out as does My Jewish Learning, including tips on how to enliven the Seder service itself. One resource I always rely is which sets up a whole Passover site as well. All of these sites also have links to recipes as well.

    I still hope to do a round up of blog-based tips and recipes. If you have one (or can recommend someone else's) you'd like me to include, leave a comment below.
    About the photo: Stained glass window in synagogue in Buenos Aires.

    Buenos Aires Photo of the Day -- Souvenirs at the Plaza de Mayo

    This photo is of the wares of a souvenir vendor in the Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires political and free speech heart. It is also where Evita entreated Argentina not to cry for her and a major sightseeing stop. This vendor offers flags, tango mementos and a little bit of Che (who was born in Argentina), hoping to offer something to every tourist's taste. I think he also had a table full of mate gourds and tea as well.

    More on Plaza de Mayo later.

    Monday, April 06, 2009

    Buenos Aires Photo of the Day - Do the Submarino!

    The submarino is a delightful beverage I discovered during my trip to Buenos Aires. I understand it is a traditional hot drink and have seen it described as a simpler way of making hot chocolate. I had this one at one of the Havanna chain of coffee shops. The chain seems to be as ubiquitous in B.A. as Starbucks is here.

    To make your own submarino, prepare a tall (12-16 ounce) glass of hot, frothy steamed milk. Break into sections a very good quality 4 to 6 ounce dark or bittersweet chocolate bar and submerge in the hot milk. Serve with a long spoon to stir it and optional sweetener of choice. Add sweetener if using (I didn't), and stir to dissolve the chocolate bar pieces.

    Sip enjoying every moment and nibble on the complementary cookie Havanna serves with its drinks or perhaps once of the chain's excellent chocolates or alfajores cookies. (I'll post about alfajores at a later date.)

    Buenos Aires Tourist Tip: Most establishments serve some sort of a pastry or chocolate nibble with their hot drinks, so you may want to wait to order that cookie until you see what comes with your cafe con leche.

    Sunday, April 05, 2009

    Buenos Aires Photo of the Day - Tigre and the Delta

    It was just three weeks ago that I went to Tigre and the river delta region, about an hour away from Buenos Aires. We went by train (see the tourist tips section below for more detail) along the coast. We could have gotten out and explored some of the stops along the way but chose not to because of timing and needing to be back for dinner at Casa Saltshaker that night. When we got to Tigre there were many commercial options for taking a hour to three hour tour of the region, water taxis to many of the islands and local restaurants and resorts on them, and service to Uruguay river resorts. There are also many pleasant restaurants overlooking the river and we opted to have lunch in one of them and then decide if we would take a boat ride. Right after lunch there was thunder and rain and we said, um, don't think it would be a good day to be on the water. We ended up going to the Puerto de Frutas instead. The old fruit wholesaling facility has been converted into shops, handicraft booths and food vendors. It was full of day tripping locals and was a fun but lightweight diversion. I enjoyed the Museum of Mate much more.

    More on the mate museum (and mate) can be found here. Watch for other aspects of our day trip later as well as Casa Saltshaker and our Vietnamese meal in Argentina.

    Buenos Aires Tourist Tip: To come (I need to find my notes): step by step how to get to the delta by train. This is easy (and inexpensive) to do yourself, you don't need to pay a tour company for an excursion.

    Saturday, April 04, 2009

    Buenos Aires Photo of the Day - Strawberry Shake

    This strawberry shake, or a licuado, is made with the deep red strawberries (smaller than the ones we generally get in California) I saw all throughout Buenos Aires. The Argentinean term for strawberries is fruitillas (pronounced something like frut-shah-as. The Argentineans pronounce ll and y as kind of a cross between jah and shah.) This particular licuado was made with water, but was also available with milk or ice cream. It was very satisfying on a hot muggy day . It was served with a small square of cake topped with quince paste. The whole strawberry is impaled on a clever holder suspended from the rim of the glass.

    I had this at the Cafe Alameda along with a mixto -- a grilled ham and cheese sandwich.

    Update: Here's a recipe for a strawberry shake, from a grower in Ecuador. Recipe courtesy of Accion, a microloan provider my family supports.  And here's how I make them at home -- about 2 cups ripe berries, 1 cup ice and 1 cup water. Whirl in blender until smooth.  Taste. Add sweetener if necessary and additional water if desired.  Slurp.

    Friday, April 03, 2009

    Buenos Aires Photo of the Day - The Neighborhoods of Palermo

    Palermo is the trendy, up and coming neighborhood for many visitors and residents, but Laurie and I found that it is really a series of neighborhoods that can vary from street to street and section to section from fairly industrial to working class to hip to very upscale. Like all the neighborhoods we explored, each section had its own "center" with grocery stores and other markets serving the local community. This photographically appealing store was a gem. Even the watermelons it had on display were carefully arranged and polished to a bright gleam.

    One telling scene was a store window in Palermo Hollywood full of merchandise such as T-shirts and mate mugs saying (in Spanish and English) that there is No Hollywood in Palermo or variations of that theme. I took it to mean there is some local resistance to the gentrification that is going on in some of the neighborhoods.

    Buenos Aires Tourist Tip: Check out the crafts market (seems to be open daily but probably more vendors on a weekend day) at Plaza Serrano (also called Plaza Cortazar) in an area filled with cafes, restaurants, and inexpensive stores. (I got a beautiful fringed scarf for about $10).

    Palermo also features a covered flea market.
    The space is undergoing renovation and it is temporarily housed in adjacent buildings in the area bounded by Dorrego, Martinez, Concepion Arenal and Cabrera. It reminded me a very little of the Paris flea market. Most items were too bulky to take back on the plane, but you might find a treasure or two. It was interesting to poke around but I wouldn't call it a must see.

    We spent the day walking through the various Palermo neighborhoods (they do cover a lot of area) checking out the stores, cafes and helarerias (Argentinean gelato and ice cream stores). There are also museums and parks to explore. I know many tourists like to stay in this neighborhood. I think the plus would be that you feel part of a neighborhood, the minus could be since the sections of Palermo vary so widely you want to be sure to get a feel for the area you are considering staying in.

    Thursday, April 02, 2009

    Every Day Passover - Zucchini Crust Pizza

    As part of Blog Appetit's on-going coverage of Passover,* here's an article first written for the Temple Beth Abraham Omer. I also hope to put together a round up of basic and Seder info as well as some gluten-free links (Let my people not eat wheat?). You might also enjoy this post for custard matzo brei (a sweet egg and matzo dish).

    "What can I eat?”

    That’s the little acknowledged but often heard “other” question at Passover, asked by all sons and daughters (and occasionally spouses).

    It’s those regular meals and food needs I find so challenging at Passover. The Seders with their gourmet and/or traditional foods I can handle, everyone knows what to expect and no one grumbles about the lack of bread or related products. Everyone, uhm, seems to rise to the occasion.

    It’s the everyday meals and snacks that can be so challenging, even in a household like mine with lots of fruits and vegetables on hand. I know there are plenty of kosher-for-Passover versions of everything from cereal to fruit snacks, but they are expensive, sometimes disappointing in taste and nutrition, and hard to find (especially after Passover starts – memo to grocery stores – Passover lasts eight days, stock for it, please) or require a special trip to Jewish-oriented markets.

    That’s why certain recipes have become part of my Passover tradition. They are family friendly, lend themselves to leftovers with easy snacking potential and taste good, not just “well-this-is-okay at-Passover-but-I wouldn’t-eat-this-any-other-time-of- the-year” good.

    This recipe is adapted from Molly Katzen’s Zucchini-Crusted Pizza in the 1992 revised version of Moosewood Cookbook published by Ten Speed Press.

    Passover Zucchini-Matzo Meal Pizza
    Serves 4 to 6

    The matzo meal gives the crust a nice crunch, but does make for an untraditional pizza.
    While they liked it, my sons didn’t think it should really be called a pizza, so change the name if your family has strict definitions of what is or isn’t a pizza. I didn’t fess up to the zucchini being part of the crust until the boys were well into their teens.

    We like this crust topped with a little tomato sauce and shredded cheese. I’ve also topped it with sauce, garlic sautéed greens and cheese. It is versatile and can take to almost any topping; however, I’d recommend you use a light hand. This crust can get overwhelmed with too heavy or soggy a topping.

    Oil and matzo cake meal for the pans
    2 ¼ cups grated zucchini (tightly packed in measuring cup)
    2 eggs, beaten
    ¼ cup matzo meal
    1 cup grated mild, white cheese (try half mozzarella and parmesan if available for Passover)
    2 Tablespoons fresh, chopped parsley or basil
    1 clove garlic, very finely minced, optional
    2 Tablespoons oil, preferably olive oil if available for Passover

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease two 9-inch pie plates with the oil and dust lightly with matzo cake meal. (The thin, metal pans work best. Disposable foil pans should work, too.)

    Put zucchini, eggs, matzo meal, cheese, fresh herbs, minced garlic (if using) and 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large bowl. Mix well until combined.

    Press mixture evenly into the prepared pie pans. Put in the oven. After about 20 minutes, brush the crusts with the remaining oil. Bake for another 15-20 minutes (for a total of 35 to 40) or until the crusts have turned a golden brown. Take them out of the oven.

    Cool for 10 minutes and then slip a spatula beneath the crusts to loosen them from the pan to prevent breakage when serving, but keep the crusts in their pans. (Crusts can be made ahead to this point and kept well wrapped in the refrigerator. Allow to come to room temperature before proceeding.)

    Have toppings precooked or at room temperature as appropriate. Scatter pizza toppings (see note above) on the crusts and bake at 400 degrees until heated and cheese has melted.

    * I don't know why but that phrase, "continuing coverage of Passover" just cracks me up. I wrote it to be a bit funny, but it made me envision this whole routine about a reporter trying to report on the plagues, trying to get a man on the street interview during the plague of darkness, getting embedded with the Hebrews for 40 years in the desert, etc. I know its not a funny topic, but somehow I could just envision this really funny routine. Well, funny to me anyway.

    About the photo: From MorgueFile, a great free photo site. Photo by Rosevita.

    Buenos Aires Photo of the Day - Recoleta Cemetery

    My friend and I spent our second day walking and wandering through the Microcentro, Retiro, Barrio Norte and Recoleta districts of Buenos Aires. A highlight was the famed Recoleta Cemetery. The day had been somewhat cloudy but by the time we got well into the maze of crypts and feral cats the heavens truly opened up and we got drenched. It didn't matter, we were so entranced that we stayed and continued to explore. The cats were smarter, they knew which crypts they could hide out in. We humans were a little more perverse about ducking into a crumbling mausoleum to get out of the rain.

    Of course we tracked down Eva Peron's final resting place in the Duarte family crypt but there is so much more to admire and wonder about in this city of the dead, with its lanes, mini-mansion buildings, scultpures and cats.

    Buenos Aires Tourist Tip: After you explore the ornamentation of the houses of the expired, check out the neighboring Buenos Aires Design Center for how the living are decorating their abodes. Lots of interesting housewares make for different souvenirs. The patio cafe offers a free tango show on Wednesday (which was rained out when we were there so I can't give you any details). You'll also be close to El San Juanino on Posadas Street. It's a regional Argentinean restaurant where we had by far the best empanadas in Buenos Aires (except for maybe the ones we made ourselves.) More on El San Juanino and the cooking class in later posts.

    If you have a nice day you could retreat across the street from the cemetery to the historic La Biela cafe under a 200-hundred year old tree, or the less atmospheric and much less expensive Aromas cafe. Both are pleasant spots to sit and reflect (and enjoy the street scene and musicians) in this very upper class neighborhood.

    Wednesday, April 01, 2009

    Buenos Aires Photo of the Day - Seltzer Bottles

    One of the many, many charms of Buenos Aires is that it is still a seltzer culture.

    I grew up with a glass bottled, metal-capped siphon of "Jewish champagne" in my grandparents' fridge. I still seek out "water with a kick," as my nephew used to call it, whenever I can. Most travels abroad I'm just happy I can get my water with bubbles in a regular water bottle, but in Buenos Aires I discovered in many cafeterias (a term they seem to use for cafes that also serve food) one could order "soda" and get a personal-sized plastic siphon of soda water (seltzer) all to one's self! (More on that later)

    These classic siphons were for sale at the Sunday fair/flea market at Plaza Durrango in the San Telemo district. Prices were about $30 to $150 each, depending on the rarity and condition of the bottle.
    Buenos Aires Tourist Tip: This Sunday market was one of the largest and best street flea markets I've ever been do. Do plan on being in Buenos Aires over a Sunday so you can take it in, bring lots of pesos (although some dealers will take dollars) and leave lots of time. The fair is huge.