Thursday, January 19, 2006


On my way home the other night, I stopped at a small parrilla on Avenida Independencia. I wanted to catch part of the preseason soccer match between Boca Juniors and River Plate, the capital’s two most storied teams. To my disappointment, the TV was set to what seemed to be a reality show.

Still, I was hungry, so I went ahead and ordered a choripan from the woman behind the counter. She spilt a chorizo sausage in half and set it on the large charcoal grill.

While I waited for my food, I took stock of my surroundings. The narrow room was halved lengthwise by the counter. A man was sitting on a stool against the wall, eating a choripan and drinking a glass of red wine and soda water. Above his head a poster commemorated Diego Maradona’s farewell from Boca Juniors.

I looked back at the television. It was, in fact, a reality show, about a woman who had undergone a mastectomy. At that moment, a surgeon was prodding her bare chest.

While the woman from whom I ordered was busy with the grill, another woman behind the counter sat looking up at the television, while breast feeding her baby.

In a country obsessed with a cartoonish form of female beauty, the sight of a mastectomy-scarred chest and a woman feeding her child in plain view is startling. In a restaurant, it is also not particularly appetizing.

“For here or to go?” the cook asked.

I took the choripan to go.


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