Flavors have the power to connect one’s feelings in a deep way with specific time, place, or memory. It's incredible how the taste of some food can touch our heart connecting our feelings with experiences in the past. Also, the taste combined with the smells are the perfect airplane to fly through time. Sadly, those combinations are missing for me, or they are very hard to find in Chicago. Some flavors and eating habits from my country, Argentina, are things that I am constantly searching for in Chicago. Likewise, it's truly hard to find the same flavor in the food because it will never taste or feel like home.
First, fruits and vegetables have totally different taste compared to Argentina. In the supermarket, they look perfect, colorful, and also they smell very good. Sometimes, it's like I'm inside a gallery because everything is so organized, perfectly matched, and bright. Walking through each hall is pleasant for me. Unfortunately, that experience is just a gift for our vision and for our eyes. In general, most of fruits and vegetables taste unreal. They don't have the same favor that they usually have in Argentina or elsewhere. For example, tomatoes don't taste like tomatoes, and apples don't taste like apples. When I have the opportunity to shop at the farmer’s market, it's when fruits and veggies are similar to my country. They are not perfect from the outside, but really tasty from the inside. Going to the farmer’s market is a great moment where I can feel less homesick remembering the small stores where I used to buy fresh groceries at home.
Another important point is the sobremesa. That is the time that most of Argentinians spend immediately after each meal chatting and enjoying each other's company. After lunch or dinner, people from Argentina usually continue sitting at the table drinking a cup of coffee, talking with friends and family, and relaxing. At home, it’s easily to do sobremesa, but it's complicated when eating in restaurants. Going to restaurants in Chicago is like when I have to deposit a check in the bank. I wait for the cashier, and then I get the money from the check, and that's all, I must leave. At the restaurant, I wait for the waiter, order my meal, eat, and immediately and by magic I have the check over the table. You must pay and Alakazam! It's the end of the show. In general, all the restaurants in Chicago are the same, but I have found few exceptions like Davanti Enoteca or Tre Soldi that I genuinely love. It's such a big pleasure to have a place where after dinner nobody, directly or indirectly, insinuates that every costumer should leave.
Furthermore, meat is the most important part of the diet of every Argentinian, and Argentinian BBQ is unique and irreplaceable. Sharing time with friends is always synonymous with Asado, the name of the barbeque in Argentina. Doing asado is a ritual in my hometown, Mendoza, because each step is very important and enjoyable. First, the asador, who makes de BBQ, has to start burning the firewood, and when the coals are ready, he puts the meat on the grill. The asador has to do this process early if everybody wants to eat on time. While everything happens, friends and family could enjoy eating some appetizers, drinking a glass of Malbec, and chatting. In Chicago, I discovered a new way of BBQ which is easier and faster than in Mendoza. Time is not important because the meat is ready in just a couple of minutes using a gas grill. It's easy and fast to do it with this kind of grill. Frequently, my husband and I make BBQ at home with friends, a new style of BBQ for us. For example, adding corn and burgers are part of the new ritual for us in the United States. Cooking meat using a gas grill has a different flavor, totally incomparable with the delicious taste that the firewood gives to the meal.
Flavors, the way to cook, and the eating habits are important points that every Argentinian in America has to adapt to. To be honest, Chicago has given me a lot of alternatives to shorten the huge distance between my old and new home. I'm an open minded person and easy going, so I accept change for some aspects of my life. Perhaps, those are the reasons why I can be thankful and not picky about the things I miss. Every immigrant should encourage themselves to discover new tastes, new places, and new things to do. Life is a constant adventure. People are human beings that easily adapt their lives to new places using their creativity and ingenuity to not suffer homesickness.