Agonizing in bed, watching Adam Sandler movies on stream and beating yourself up about mixing champan-speeds, beer, whiskey and cosmos instead of just sticking with fernet-cokes all night is definitely one way of dealing with a hangover. Pulling yourself together and hopping down to the Recoleta Feria near Plaza Francia/Centro Cultural de Reco/Reco Cemetery is another, in my opinion better, way. Street performers (such as the weird Michael Jackson doll-guy and the all-too-popular silver man) wake up your senses, pretty colors spattered around the feria in the form of artisanal throw pillows and mates soothe them. And those spidery-looking back-scratcher devices so popular in BsAs markets definitely feel good when applied to an aching body. But what heals your uneasy stomach and pounding head is the street-food all around, the smell of charcoal, the sizzling of sketchy but delicious meats, the sawing-sound made by a serrated knife when passing through a fresh hunk of crusty bread. And of course, the knowing, forgiving smiles that come with the food help too.
This is one of my favorites, a stand that specializes in 3 types of simple, meaty, condiment-free sandwiches: salami, salami con pimiento and some sort of cured, smokey ham. The operation is not a complex one; while one woman saws the fresh loaves of skinny French bread in half, the other layers on generous portions of that deli stuff and piles the sandwiches high to lure in hungry customers. It’s probably true that I could easily find these ingredients and slap together my own version of this sandwich at home, but its the interaction with the women that counts here, the proud “yeah, you know you want it” smiles, the enthusiasm with which they describe and let you try bits of each cut before making your decision on which to order.
While the skinny sandwiches above are ideal for a morning after when you need a spicy flavor in your mouth to replace the taste of cigarettes and death, wake you up and make you feel human again, the pan relleno (stuffed bread) is definitely the one you need when you wake up at 3:00, physically drained and hungry as hell. A gigantic, hearty round of doughy, soft and (if you’re lucky) warm bread stuffed with a variety of delicious fillings, sometimes ham, sometimes chicken, often tomato or onion, but always a generous amount of gooey, slightly oily cheese. A fistful of comfort and self-stabilization right here.
Boy am I glad that I have Eastern European genes and that those genes encode an iron stomach, otherwise I would be deprived of what is definitely one of my favorite source of protein and fat, the king of morning-after gastronomy: the sketchy street meat. Chorripanes, morcillas, lomitos, completos, bondiolas, hamburgesas; you name it, I’ll squirt some chimichurri or pebre (I miss Chile…) on that unidentifiable piece of animal, ask for 4-5 extra napkins and dig right in. Here I opted for the lomito instead of my usual chorripan. A surprisingly not that greasy piece of tender though slightly chewy beef (maybe veal?) handled with a fork but by not very clean hands, grilled on a hot plate until no longer raw (but definitely not FDA approved either), stuck between two slices of toasted bread, left for you to season with a variety of home-made, equally sketchy-looking but phenomenal sauces of different consistencies and flavors. Soaks up everything bad in your body and replaces it with guilty, non-apologetically goodness.
And then there’s the fruit-cup. This is definitely for the less grave of morning-after situations, perfect for when you need something healthy with a sour twang after a night of stuffing your face with greasy asado. It also works as a way to make yourself feel better after eating a sketchy street meat (see above). My favorite fruit-cup vendor in the Recoleta Feria is a flirtatious, plump Argentine man in a gaucho hat who squeezes orange juice with particularly impressive vigor and who, upon reading off my face the indecision between fruit cup and orange juice, suggested mixing the two and creating this vitamin C-filled masterpiece. And he only charged me 4 pesos because, well, to him I am lindissima even when I actually look like death in PJ’s and Uggs.