We left Santiago on Monday morning but the last night in Chile is already a blur. It went by too fast. Like most evenings before a departure, we suddenly discovered we had a bunch of things to do—two loads of laundry (our building had washing machines), get Mark a haircut, packing…
“Gee, we’re just flying to Argentina!” I said at one point.
Right. It’s not like we were going halfway across the world—just across the Andes.
Buenos Aires is our hub. It’s not a destination, just a place where we can figure out the next step. In Chile, we’re stuck behind the Andes. From Buenos Aires, we have options.
It was a cloudy and a colder-than-usual Monday morning in Santiago. I thought I’d be sad to leave the city and the country I love so much but the truth is, I didn’t have time or process—I was busy being mad at Air Canada, stressed out we would arrive late in Buenos Aires. It’s never easy to land in a new country at night. Everything is more confusing, more rushed.
And I’ve been feeling rushed since we got to Buenos Aires.
Buenos Aires requires my full attention. I have to watch where I step because most sidewalks are very uneven or being fixed. The streets are narrow and crowded, large avenues are difficult to cross. Everybody seems to be rushing all the time. Our Wi-Fi connection sucks and the hotel room is tiny with nowhere to seat (like right now, I’m sitting outside, in front of the elevators…)
I need a bit more time to adjust to Argentina, and since Buenos Aires is just a hub for us, I’m not sure I should spend too much energy trying to do so. I should go with the flow even if it’s a bit too fast for me, even though I feel I’m completely underdressed compared to Argentinean women, even though I don’t like carne that much.
Maybe I should focus on what I like.
See, there was one thing I could never understand in sunny, hot Chile—the local obsession for big, creamy cakes.
“Look Juliette, a bakery!”
“Wait… nope. That’s not a panadería but a pastelaría. They sell cakes, not bread. I’ll go in just to check it out but I bet it’s the giant-creamy-cake kind.”
A quick look inside usually confirmed my first instinct. Giant creamy cakes, slices of giant creamy cakes, nothing that can be bought and taken to the hotel easily, nothing that can be enjoyed without mess. Think wedding cakes style. Think five-year-old kids left in the kitchen with cake decorations style.
I don’t like these kinds of cakes much. It’s too much about the frosting, the icing, the sweet filling and not “bread-y” enough for me. I’m the same in France—I’d rather eat croissants and pains au chocolat than macarons or millefeuilles.
Oh, there were slices of pound cake for sale in the streets of Santiago… but marijuana was the main ingredient.
I still found sweet treats in Chile, like pan de huevo which is just sweet, crumbly bread, or pan collegial (bread pudding). And I usually shopped at Colombian bakeries, they always had pan de banano.
But I’m now in the land of facturas, European-inspired baked sweets. As the saying goes, “in South America, everybody comes from Native Americans, but in Argentina everybody comes down from the boat.”
In Argentina, Facturas are a generic name given to these trays of sweet breads found in any bakery. The queen of facturas if the medialuna, the croissant. It can be very sweet (medialuna de manteca) or slightly less sweet (medialuna de grasa). It’s also sold filled with crema (pastry cream) or dulce de leche (similar to caramel but thicker and sweeter). Actually, anything is filled or topped with crema, dulce de leche or some kind of jam.
Most facturas don’t really have a name and they don’t need one since you just pick up a bowl, a bread tongs and help yourself. Facturas are cheap—they’re about 5 to 10 pesos each (50 cents) each—and they’re often priced by the dozen because they are much smaller than regular pastries, and who eats just one three-bite medialuna?
This is my kind of pastries. I’m that person who has a hard time making a choice when it comes to food, so I get to sample two or three facturas without any guilt!