“There is such a thing as food and such a thing as poison. But the damage done by those who pass off poison as food is far less than that done by those who generation after generation convince people that food is poison.”
– Paul Goodman, author
Buenos Aires – I hate to condemn a restaurant because of one bad experience, with one single plate, on one particular day. However… commencing 3½-4 hours after lunching at this particular location I incurred about an eighteen hour nearly continuous experience of the “dry heaves” to put it simply (the medical term of “retching” has never quite adequately described it), one of those experiences where you truly just want everything to be over with. Everything. That has left me with the last two days of just plain feeling exhausted, though gradually getting better – I can only hope that putting together Friday’s Casa S dinner was pulled off reasonably well – I almost cancelled doing it, and truly don’t even remember prepping half the food or how I made it through the whole thing – I do know that 5-10 minutes after the guests left I was in bed and slept for 12 hours straight.
Now, as I said, I would normally hate to condemn a place on this basis, except… I noted while eating lunch at the location, a Cuban restaurant called Oye Chico, Montevideo 310, in part of that cool little plaza that connects Montevideo, Sarmiento, and Corrientes and is filled with little venues in which to eat, shop, etc. – that nobody, really, nobody, waited more than about five to ten minutes for their food. The lunch selection is limited – salads, a special of the day, and two items from the dinner menu, a ropa vieja and what I had, the platón cubano. This was a mix of ropa vieja, pork in orange sauce, chicken in onion sauce, white rice and beans, brown rice and beans, plantains, a couple of types of potatoes. All reasonably tasty, but all clearly served up off a steam line… and one which apparently doesn’t keep the food at the appropriate temperatures for food safety.
Given the symptoms I had, my best guess from my knowledge of food poisoning, Bacillus cereus, emetic type – which means rice, beans, and/or potatoes that were kept at a warm rather than hot temperature long enough for bacterial cultures to grow. That’s the kind of thing that I have to assume is endemic to the restaurant – although as the local news has pointed out, there have been multiple problems this last week in the city with food poisoning because of constant power outages and shortages, leading to poor refrigeration and lack of temperature controls. On that basis I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt in theory – though even if true, a thermometer would have told them things weren’t right, if anyone in the kitchen cared. So, in practice – not a place I’ll be back to.