I’m in Mar del Plata this weekend, escaping the outrageous Buenos Aires heat for some beach action and the Magic Numbers gig. (Okay, it’s raining here and in BA, but at least the stifling air isn’t clogging up my wind pipes for a few days.)
Staying chez Kelly, my South African mate, I brought down some Thai red curry paste to cook us up a storm over the weekend – it was smuggled in by special delivery from the UK, so I’ve been saving it for a special moment to share with people who will appreciate it – this shit is hard to get hold of…
Kel’s blue peepers lit up when I told her my culinary plan and out came a pen and paper to compile a shopping list. On it went sweet potato, rice, tomatoes, peas, coconut milk (another hard-to-find essential ingredient which will make this Thai red cuzza all the more worthwhile when we finally eat it), some red peppers, red lager, red wine…
Florencia drove us to Toledo, the local MDP supermarket. Not known for its imported line of goods unlike the national Disco chain (think bottles of Guinness, Bonne Maman strawberry jam, pretzels although Pimms hasn’t quite reached their shelves yet), I was happy to substitute coconut milk for cream but Kelly insisted: she knew where to get it from.
Wandering around Toledo, we tried some trans-fat free oatmeal biscuits, weighed up the pros and cons of packet and ready-to-great hunks of Parmesan cheese (we chose the latter), and selected some alcohol to see the four of us (including friend Chance) through to tomorrow’s curry night.
Flor and I spent time selecting a Benjamin Cabernet Sauvignon, a Las Moras Cabernet Sauvignon and a Valentín Lacrado blend, between $15 and $20 (pesos) each.
Kel had been busy weighing up the veg and hadn’t seen the wines and at the checkout, she delightedly chirped: “We had the Lacrado at our wedding.” It was a nice coincidence, but sadly that was where our renewed vows with Valentin ended.
“You can’t buy that,” said the chubby brunette at the checkout. “It’s ten past nine.”
What? Flor and I looked at each other aghast. We both live in the capital where it’s possible to get almost anything you want at any time of day, and it turned out that the province has a different, stricter adhesion to the law. Our world started to collapse.
Now, it’s not that we’re alcoholics, but we were simply looking forward to a glass of wine with tonight’s pasta. Civilised adults with an average age of 33, the aim was to eat in as it was raining and enjoy the company with some decent food and a splash of vino colapso, as Marsha from Spaced would say.
And for the sake of ten minutes, that little moment of happiness was brutally snatched from us.
Incredulous, we tried to fight it out the checkout woman, but she insisted there was a large sign in the alcohol section. So large that alcohol needs to come with a magnifying glass because all the people in our queue missed it – one man behind us, also a holidaymaker otherwise he’d have known the rules, trudged off to return his plonk.
When I say you can get what you want in BA, I don’t mean everything is legal at all times of day, but there are ways around such inconveniences. Flor started plotting. How could we get round this? We genuinely felt like we were being pushed towards bending the law, positively encouraged due to the 9pm cut-off point.
Perhaps we should have just accepted our lot as responsible adults but as responsible adults we felt we should be allowed to buy alcohol in a supermarket at least until its closes (10pm in Toledo’s case).
Grumbling all the way back to Kelly’s in La Perla neighbourhood, we made unfair comparisons with BA, slagged off the politicians and wondered what we could do.
Parking up, Flor and I went to the corner shop to buy some cigarettes. “Have you got the number for a delivery company by any chance?” asked Flor. “We want to get some alcohol.”
“They don’t just deliver booze,” chortled the girl, and looking at each other, Flor assured her that we only wanted some wine.
Mobile number in hand, the call was made and 30 minutes later, we are now the proud owners of two bottles of Valentin Lacrado.