Human prosperity never rests but always craves more, till blown up with pride it totters and falls. From the opulent mansions pointed at by all passers-by none warns it away, none cries, ‘Let no more riches enter!’.”
– Aeschylus, Ancient Greek Playwright
Buenos Aires – Recoleta is filled with old homes and mansions. Wandering down one street or another you can stumble across the remnants of once opulent buildings, many of which have been left to slowly decay. I’ve seen this particular one many time before, at Avenida Alvear 1693, corner of Rodriguez Peña. It’s more on the radar these days because it’s directly next to the new Park Hyatt hotel, another renovated mansion still officially known as the Palacio Duhau. Personally, I think the architecture on this mansion is spectacular. It’s always looked more or less abandoned – the windows shuttered, no sign of life. On occasion I’ve seen a car inside the gates, but no more than that. Yesterday, several of the windows were open, there was a dog playing out in the front drive, and a couple of cars parked. Still no humans in sight. I did a bit of searching, and came across much speculation as to what the place is or was – as best I can determine it is, or at least as of a year or two ago was, the family home of one Sra. María Maguire.
All of which did not lead to finding some fresh small squid at the fish market, though at least it put me in the same general neighborhood as the store where I picked them up. Henry apparently needing a Peruvian food fix, I pulled a recipe for Arroz con Camarones (shrimp) off the web and did my best with the ingredients on hand. It was deemed rico, though based on the original recipe, I think this is probably a pale imitation of what it could have been with all the various chilis, spices, and fresh herbs. However, I’d eat it again, just as is…
Arroz con Calamaretes
1 pound of small squid, cleaned and cut into small pieces
1 large white onion
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon pimentón rojo
2 tablespoons of olive oil
½ cup of white wine
1 cup of peas
mix of herbs – parsley, tarragon, thyme
salt to taste
Start the rice cooking in one pot. Saute the onion, garlic, and pepper in the olive oil until the onions are just starting to brown. Add the wine and herbs and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the peas and squid, and cook, stirring regularly, until the squid are just cooked through. Add salt to taste and serve with white rice. The original used a blend of fresh and dried ají amarillo and ají panca, neither of which we had in the house, and fresh “fines herbes” – I used dried, and what I had handy, and I used canned peas rather than fresh – after all, I was just trying to throw together a quick dinner. Henry finds squid ink too bitter, so I just used the little bit collected while cleaning the squid and didn’t add extra.