Thursday, November 16, 2017

Back at BA's Food Fair, the Feria Masticar

One part of the Feria Masticar is lectures and classes.
Last weekend – Friday afternoon, actually—I trekked across Palermo to the annual Feria Masticar, a showcase of food and drink that takes place in the fairground-style enclosure in the barrio of Colegiales. I had lunched in Colegiales just the day before, on Cantabrian cuisine in the Centro Montañes, but the Masticar is a more innovative and diverse event.
The Centro Montañés is the city's Cantabrian cultural center.
I’d never considered its etymology, but word masticar literally means “to chew.” In lunfardo slang, though, it can also mean to think or talk something over, rather like the English phrase “chewing the fat,” to use a gastronomic metaphor. The Feria’s a four-day event, and the lines to enter and eat can both get long on Saturday and Sunday, but it wasn’t bad when I arrived about half an hour after the 2 p.m. opening (one complaint: approaching from the south side, I had to walk around most of the sprawling enclosure to reach the single entrance, and do the same on departure to get back home).

Purchasing scrip for the food
300 pesos' worth of scrip
Some friends I’d spoken with showed little interest in the event, partly because of the 130-peso admission charge (about $7.50) just for the privilege of snacking on small plates. After paying, it became necessary to buy at least one booklet of scrip for 300 pesos (about US$17; the vendors supposedly do not accept cash, though I recall paying a small bill in pesos a few years back). This is something of a nuisance since, if you have any scrip left over, you need to stand in line for a cash refund on leaving). There are also stands of fresh and packaged produce, such as cheeses and jams.
Get your hard cider here!
I bought the minimum, but the first item that caught my eye was a free sample of hard draft cider at Sidra 1888. Though Argentine cider doesn’t enjoy the notoriety that wine does, it’s a great option on a hot summer’s day, and I’d definitely take a bottle home if I had someone to share it with these days (I can’t drink an entire bottle of fizzy alcohol on my own; for what it’s worth, I usually go for the cider at San Telmo’s Bar El Federal). The apples come from Patagonia’s upper Río Negro valley.
An oyster and prawn portion from Crizia.
Given that some of the city’s top restaurants have booths or trucks here, the Masticar provides the chance to sample them without spending a fortune. I’ve dined at Palermo Soho’s Crizia before, but I couldn’t resist their small combo of raw oysters and a Puerto Madryn prawn. It wasn’t exactly filling, but it was satisfying.
With a lot of pulp, the blueberry juice was filling.
Conscious of overspending—I didn’t want to buy another packet of scrip—I strolled the grounds in search of bargains and, though it wasn’t an especially hot day, I worked up a thirst that I satisfied with an organic blueberry juice from Purificare. Half a liter of this was pretty filling and, after a short breather, I strolled past the previously unknown (to me) Peugeot Lounge, where I spotted an irresistible pistachio flan with a dollop of dark chocolate. It wasn’t large either, but it was deliciously filling and also consumed the last of my scrip.
Peugeot Lounge, the source of pistachio flan

The flan itself...
On the way out, I realized I had overlooked the food truck from iLatina, a Colombian restaurant I’ve been meaning to try for years, but maybe after my wife arrives at month’s end we’ll look into it. Even then, I left satisfied with the Feria, and won’t hesitate to return in future years (this was my third Masticar, including 2012 and 2016).
iLatina's food truck at the Masticar

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