Friday. 10th February.
I am invited to what I think is a small dinner party at Nadia’s father’s apartment. This in a huge Art Deco mansionete block, in up-market Bario Norté.
Her father will be present.
Visions of a rigid and terrifying Latin American patriarch, complete with moustache, white linen suit and panama hat, almost certainly smoking a chirotte and packing a loaded revolver.
Detirmined to make a good impression, I walk eight blocks to find a decent Vineria. There- with enthusiastic advice from the proprietor- I choose the most expensive bottle of Argentinan red in the shop.
But will it be meat or fish for dinner?
Just to be safe- I also purchase the expensive bottle of Argentinan white in the shop.
The owner suggests a fine cheese from the same region. (He has obviously me coming.) I add the cheese to my basket.
I’m worried about the time now. I don’t want to be late.
I splash out on a taxi uptown.
I must say, I am looking forward to tasting this wine.
Nadia is still in the shower.
Her father, an entirely normal, relaxed and charming gentleman, feels obliged to turn off his TV programme in order to entertain me.
There is no sign of food, candles or a laid table.
Nadia emerges showered and dressed ten minutes later.
Her friends arrive 45 minutes after that.
We have some of my regional cheese as an appetizer.
Then we head out to dine at a local Parrilla.
The parrilla- a grill- is of course a famous Argentine institution, a restaurant specialising in the many different cuts of fine Argentinian beef.
This one is good, my steak is very fine, although I suspect there are many others even better around the capital.
At dinner, apart from Nadia and I, are Diego, an arist who spcialises in painting under UV light, his American wife, their sweet little girl, and their friend Javier.
Javi’s English is so perfect I have to enquire. It turns out he schooled in South Africa where his father was the ambasador. Diego speaks almost no English but is clearly something of a comic genius, he has the others in stitches most of the time.
When I ask about a particular cut of steak, the artist Diego draws his description, as an outline on the paper tablecloth.
When the steak arrives it is identical, in both size and shape- almost as if it’s been used as a stencil for the drawing on the table.
I am suitibly impressed.