This is my friend Nico (on the left, like the chick from the Velvet Underground album) and his brother Gaston (on the right, like the dude in Beauty and the Beast). Last weekend I hung out with Nico and while we were sippin’ coffee in McDonald’s, like fucking bosses, I mentioned that I was bummed I hadn’t gotten to see more different zones in Buenos Aires. We talked about what neighborhoods are cool, which are hella sketchy, and where Nico lives, in the southern suburbs of Buenos Aires. I dropped some overt hint like, “Wow! I would really like to see that part of Buenos Aires *cough cough* one of these weekends maybe??” and Nico was a saint and picked it up and was like, “Yeah dude, come to my house for an asado sometime! We do it every Sunday.” Thus, the following Sunday, I took the little bus/van out to Monte Grande to visit the home of Nico and his family.
In case you’re an idiot and didn’t figure it out from the above picture, Nico and Gaston and their entire family FUCKING LOVE MUSIC! The picture above is in Gaston’s room (sweet records, obviously, but did you notice the dude is wearing a Sonic Youth “Goo” shirt?! His hair is also like that cause he loves Morrissey) and Nico’s room is the same. Just wall to wall records. But the real triumph is the special room their dad, Charlie, has out back. It’s like a music nerd’s bat-cave! Wall-to-wall vinyl and Stars Wars toys and all kind of bad ass shit. Here’s a goddamn gallery since one photo just isn’t enough.
In between checking on the grilling meat, Charlie showed me his record collection and played me a bunch of country and rock-a-billy, stopping to ask if I knew who they were each time he put on a new record. Unfortunately, my knowledge of country is worse than my grasp on Spanish, but this is what I understood, more or less. In Argentina, vinyl records are super expensive. Also, the culture of dudes that dig country/rock-a-billy is a lot like American hip-hop DJs. They cover up labels and invent new names for song so people don’t know what they’re playing. And then they adjust pitch and speed to get the rhythm right for dancing. And then they have crazy dance contests which are pretty much what you’d get if swing had tango’s illegitimate child! Like this:
After Charlie showed me the above swing video, I figured I’d show him a song from my favorite rock-a-billy warrior of all time, Hasil Adkins. Hasil Adkins was one of the original outsider artists. Sometime in the 50s he discovered the music of Hank Williams, but Hasil lived out in the middle of nowhere and so all he knew about Hank was what he saw on the cover of the LP. And since Hank was the only hombre on the cover, old Hasil figured Hank was the only guy making all this divine noise. So Hasil taught himself to play drums and guitar simultaneously and self-recorded about ten mcbillion songs. When I showed Charlie the song “She Said,” he freaked out and ran away and then came back with this photo from his record cave. It was the photo of Hasil holding two records seen in on the “Out To Hunch” album cover. Apparently Charlie had had this photo for years but always assumed it was the guitarist for the Stray Cats. He was stoked to learn it was actually Hasil Adkins, who he had never heard of.
Did I mention grilling meat? I believe I did! When we weren’t geeking out about records, Charlie was running an “asado” aka Argentine BBQ. I had a good one at Mario, the boss of my study abroad program’s, house and then I had a shitty one at a restaurant. Well, I’m pleased to report that Charlie’s asado ranks on the not-shitty side of things. He showed me all the different kinds of meats and explained how you want to be able to wave your hand in-between the coals and the meat without it getting burned, because if your hand burns your meat is gonna burn. I explained how we do BBQ in Texas and he was nice about it, unlike evil bitch host mom who interrupted to say, “No. Argentina is better. Our meat is better,” like a rude fucking troll. God, I hated her. Anyways, Charlie was awesome and I even showed him a video on YouTube of the time Man Vs. Food went to Salt Lick. Here’s a picture of the delicious meat.
For you meat aficionados out there, in the back you got beef ribs, then some cut I can’t remember, then a chunk of chicken breast on the left, sausages, and then some chinchulín, which is a kind of tripe. I had it at a restaurant and it was nasty but this time it was better. Gaston only eats chicken because he’s a picky bitch, Sol (Nico’s girlfriend) doesn’t eat meat, and Nico doesn’t eat chinchulín or any of the weird stuff. So basically I kicked everyone’s ass and ate more meat than any of the other young folks, both in terms of type and quantity. Texas for the win! Also, here is a picture of Charlie posted up beside his excellent grill. Notice the two dogs underneath. These are two out of the SIX dogs that live at Nico’s house. All of them have their different zones though so it’s cool.
We ate asado while watching Los Simpsons and that was awesome. There were these condiment dishes with pickled peppers that I liked and this really tasty pickled eggplant thing. Like I said, Nico, Gaston, and Sol are picky and don’t like a lot of the classic Argentine dishes but I ate the hell out of everything and it was all super good. Except for this one weird blood sausage thing that I don’t like much. It’s real pastey and nasty and made out of blood, so yeah, pass.
After we ate, Charlie and Nico’s mom (Elisa? I forget. Nico, if you tell me I’ll correct this!) and I drank mate and relaxed. Nico and Gaston don’t like mate. I made a lot of jokes to their parents about what shitty kids they are and how they should adopt me. For the first time ever I tried mate “dulce” (with sugar) and it was actually really good. After a minute, they served this dessert that only Charlie and I had because nobody else likes it. It was this weird jam loaf that I guess was made from sweet potatoes, but it was a lot like the filling of a Fig Newton, and that was sliced thin and layered on top of this cheese, “queso fresco” they called it. It was kind of like jam on top of less creamy cream cheese and I really liked it. I guess Charlie and I are just cooler than everyone else.
After Charlie and I finished dessert, we stopped eating for a minute, but then twenty seconds later it was time for more food. Charlie cooked up these things, “tortas fritas” which are exactly like fried dough. We all kicked it around the table and munched on fried dough and I drank a bunch more mate. They had this plastic tupperware container, like for breakfast cereal, but it has two compartments. The big one is for yerba and the small one for sugar. I would have taken a picture of it but I didn’t want to be the creep who comes to your house and takes photos of arbitrary stuff like salad bowls and forks, ya know? At some point we finally stopped eating and I took a photo with Sol and Nico and then went to the bus station so I could go back to Buenos Aires and go see Night of the Hunter at the modern art museum.