“A man who has committed a mistake and doesn’t correct it, is committing another mistake.”
Buenos Aires – A few days ago I posted my reaction to a piece this week in the New York Times travel magazine. The piece (from the Times, not mine) generated a lot of local conversation, and a fair number of folks seemed to take it the way I did. It turns out that it’s one of those hazards of trying to write a short piece, that also gets edited, that writers face all the time. The writer of the piece, Oliver Schwaner-Albright, contacted me last night after someone had directed him to my site to see my comments (and yours for those who followed up on my post), and, as he put it, “It’s always interesting to see how things land.”
Rather than just post a comment, he asked to have a short dialogue with me about the original article. A few things – first, it turns out that he’s from Chile, so Argentina isn’t some far off and exotic land for him; and he’s been here many times, so this wasn’t a long weekend jaunt for a first-timer following up on some rumor. I’d also point out that in hindsight from my post, he didn’t post about steak and malbec as so many writers seem to focus on, but rather on other Argentine specialties – in fact, his notes about Jangada restaurant and the dish of pacú that he wrote about already have several of us planning a local outing. He was writing to cover an assigned area – Palermo viejo, and the buzz that surrounds it – and whether deserved or not, the buzz is there – he’s writing about what travellers and tourists do want to hear about, while still expanding their options.
His intent wasn’t, as it came across to me and some others, to put down the existence of non-Argentine restaurants in town… and the best way I can convey his intent is a paragraph from his second e-mail to me, which sums it up beautifully:
“When I’m in Paris and I meet friends there they inevitably want to go to Japanese or Italian restaurants, and it’s natural that they choose to go to the new places with good food. But if I’m there for three days I want a perfect boudin blanc, not the best ravioli in town. I think the same is true for BA. If I’m a New Yorker who’s going to BA for a long weekend in the January sun, I’m going to want to be guided to something I can’t have at home, like pacú and a dulce de leche dessert, or something that’s so characteristic of the place as to be unique, like a breaded cutlet for lunch. So no, I wouldn’t only take visiting out-of-towners for a pastrami sandwich while in New York, but if my friends from LA are in town I’m not going to take them to the new Asian fusion place.”
I love that the internet not only allows for the sharing and reading of information and articles from all over the world, but also the chance to engage in a dialogue that those things generate – that’s why I love it when you guys post comments and we can talk about things that I write about!