Tiburón -Shark- Žralok

Tiburón -Shark- Žralok: Writing Cooking Traveling

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Las Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián

Photo from moncheopr.typepad.com
The action this weekend is in Old San Juan as the annual Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián kick off Thursday and don't let up until Sunday night.
For some that means artesanos (craftmen) filling up the plazas during the day (and often into the night) with their beautiful crafts while live bands play. Restaurants and bars offering up special menus for lunch, dinner, and late night catering to the all-night party crowd (well, until 2 a.m. thanks to a decree by the highly esteemed cough mayor of San Juan, Jorge Santini, that forces the bars to call it a day around that hour… Yeah, sure) barhopping down narrow, cobblestone streets. Its a weekend where Old San Juan is filled to the brim with drunken revelers, occasionally broken up by percussion bands, theater troupes, and people wearing giant paper mache heads.
For others, las Fiestas, or simply San Sebastián as this once weeklong religious festival turned four-day party is referred to (I call it the craziness), means kilometric traffic jams to come in and out of the old city, parking miles away near the Capitol building (if you’re lucky enough to find parking that close), and being packed like sardines in massive crowds composed of the aforementioned drunken revelers in narrow, beer drenched streets. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Excuses, excuses

I've been traveling, I've been writing for the paper, I've been watching Mad Men...

Here's is a recap of what I've had published this month.

Música 24/7: Cierran las calles. Empiezan con la famosa 6th Street, la calle de las barras, en Downtown. Poco a poco, durante la semana, el tránsito humano reemplaza el tráfico de carros por casi todo el sur de Austin, Texas. Y se desparrama la música. Baja por South Congress, cruza los puentes y se insinúa por South Lamar, la escuchas aunque no te lo propongas, aunque no estés viendo en el show.

Vibrante el East End de Londres:  Salir de la estación Aldgate East del Underground es ingresar al meollo de la acción y el bullicio. Decenas de personas de todas partes del mundo recorren con prisa, esquivando vendedores y promotores, las calles laberínticas del East End de Londres, donde se conectan los barrios de Whitechapel, Brick Lane y Spitalfields.

In One Cook's Hands: I grew up on carne mechada and fried plantains the way most American kids my age were raised on pot roast and mashed potatoes. My brother and I would get home from school and dart through the kitchen past Carmen, the woman who’s cooked and kept house for my grandmother since as far back as I can remember, as she flipped a fork-tender bistec (steak) as it sizzled or hovered over a pot of simmering beans that exhaled the smell of recao and garlic with the steam. Yet it never occurred to me to ask her how to make any of the soul-soothing comida criolla, or comfort food, she piled high on my plate. Puerto Rico is where I was born, where I grew up, and where I currently reside. But it’s not where I learned to cook.

Quiz Night at the Dial Arch

It’s amazing how quickly the brain sorts information, specially when lubricated with a room temperature ale at an English pub in Southeast London. The quizmaster—a thirtyish bartender with a microphone and a list of questions—made the rounds of the booths and tables, repeating the question, “What is the capital of Uruguay?”
My brain, a depository of useless information, ideal for activities such as this, went through the following process: map of South America, Uruguay is not Paraguay, Uruguay is across the river from Argentina, Buenos Aires is across the river from… “Montevideo!”
Five of us at the table, my friends looked up at me. “Are you sure?”

Friday, September 17, 2010

Los 3 Cuernos

Craft store by day, hipster bar by night, is probably the most concise description of the Old San Juan pub known as Los 3 Cuernos. This translates into three things: beautiful decor, limited space, and flavored chichaito.

Walking through Old San Juan at night, streets glistening after a recent rain as yellow and white streetlights reflected off the cobblestones, I made my way from the central square of Plaza de Armas down Calle San Francisco. I fell into pace behind a lady carrying several loaded bags of groceries, slightly hunched, and vaguely aware of someone following her, on occasion glancing over her shoulder discreetly. For some reason she felt familiar to me but I couldn’t place her. Soon the lights of Plaza Colón and the dark shadow of the San Cristóbal fort came into view but instead of turning down towards the plaza she continued past a crowd of twenty-something year olds hanging out of a narrow entrance, up a couple of steps, under a wooden sign with the words Los 3 Cuernos roughly painted on, and into a colorful cave where music played loudly while a few televisions showed old movies in mute. I went in behind her.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Crema de Zanahorias y Calabasa

Whenever Julia Child dropped something on camera or flipped a potato pancake too early or generally fumbled about the kitchen in a manner that made the BBC believe that she was drunk, she would look at the camera, her trademark smile fading for a moment.

"Never apologize," she said, looking the housewife taking copious notes of her deceptively easy recipes straight in the eyes. "Just smile and serve your food as if nothing was wrong."

Most of the time, no one except you thinks anything is wrong anyway.

Me, I cook with disclaimers. "Its too spicy, its a little messy, I know what I did wrong..." But heaven help you if you don't eat the damn thing.