San Telmo and La Boca are home to the most well known piece of Argentine culture, which after futbol or football is the pride and joy of this place…this is of course the tango.
This sexy, mysterious dance wasn’t always the pride of Argentina, initially it was frowned upon by the elite and perceived as extremely vulgar. It was created by a mix of Spanish, Italian and African drums by the immigrants working the ports as a reminder of a disappearing way of life. Their neighbourhoods changed from being small forgotten portal towns to the large important hub BA finally became once Spanish rule finally named it the capital in the 18 th century. It wasn’t until some of the risqué elite took the dance to Paris where it became a global craze.
La Boca is the former meat packing district where the many warehouses surrounding the port would process and ship most of Argentina’s vital beef exports. Eventually the little corrugated metal houses got a good lick of paint and are now a huge tourist attraction with overpriced restaurants all claiming to also have the best live Tango shows.
Whist a beautiful place it’s not very safe to wonder off past the main few streets and to be honest feels a little bit like Disney World…it’s also the place where we fell foul of our first real tourist trap.
Given my love for Gaucho Grill in London, I couldn’t wait to try the real mccoy so to speak. So imagine my delight when I came across the amazing traditional Parrilla below; it’s very hard not to think the steak wouldn´t be amazing!
To ensure that we didn’t miss anything out with this little treat, we got the mixed plater which had just about a piece from everything you see above served on a hot plate with salad and chips….yum yum
Well the reality is that it’s actually full of all of the worst cuts of meat that are dry to the bone, full of fat and bone marrow. To top things off, they have a blood sausage (their version of haggis I guess) that has to be one of the worse things I have ever had in my mouth.
At least the outside venue was beautiful with lovely traditional live music in the back ground on a scorching hot day with what we thought would be lovely glass of red when we ordered it. They tend to drink their red wine cold here which I have become quite accustomed to these days, so when ordering a Merlot frio it was fair to assume that’s what we would get. What came out already opened was a bottle of Rose which to be fair was nice but for a different time (maybe with some ladies around since the macho argentine men did give us some funny looks!)
To top things off..bearing in mind we thought we had been massively done over since we still at this point couldn’t quite accept that Argentina has bad steak…the bill came to well over AR$ 300 which isn’t massively expensive in pounds but for Argentina and on our daily budget was a massive indulgence that just wasn’t worth it…oh and I shouldn’t forget to mention that we didn’t actually have enough cash and they obviously didn’t accept card! Thankfully I had some dollars left over which are worth more here since the people don’t trust the peso with inflation and tend to hoard USD instead. Since we didn’t know the conversion rate we ended up actually overpaying like a couple of gringos!
We since found out that this wasn’t rally a con at all as it is just simply the way people like their meat cooked here! The nice cuts have to be ordered a la carte and a very very pricy.
San Telmo is home to the largest flea Market I have ever been too which is lined with antique stores all ending at Plazza Dorrego which is really lovely and full of street tango performers and cafes. Strangely enough though most of the Market sellers were dressed in the weirdest fancy dress, which given Halloween was the week before we still to this day are a little bemused as to why?