It’s a Queer Thing…

2008.May.26 Monday · 3 comments

in Books & Other Media, Casa SaltShaker

“It’s a queer thing is a man’s soul. It is the whole of him. Which means it is the unknown him, as well as the known.”

– D.H. Lawrence, Studies in Classic American Literature

Buenos Aires – As noted about a week and a half ago, I expect(ed) a few more interviews about Casa SaltShaker to be popping up in one media form or another. This morning’s La Nación, one of the two major daily papers here, led off with theirs. Interestingly, they took a new tack – for once not spouting off about the amazing new phenomenon that is the restaurant de puertas cerradas, something I’ve been trying to get across to people for awhile now – they’ve been around, you know? No, instead, they delved into the strange world, at least as far as the writer was concerned, of “forcing people to share tables with people they don’t know”… more or less in those words. She wasn’t particularly critical, it’s not like she said “this is a horrible thing and we must put a stop to it”. She simply discussed how unusual it is in local culture to share tables with people you don’t know, in a public setting – something that the writer seemed to think is common in Paris and Rome. I don’t recall much of it in either place, but so be it. We were the focus of the article, though two other places (one left un-named) were also mentioned. Not surprising, since indeed, it really is not local custom.

Once again the radio stations jumped in – one calling at 7:30 this morning, waking us up, and asking me to jump into an interview on-air. I groggily declined and went back to bed. Another called a few hours later, but the connection was so bad I was getting only about 2/3 of the words – and they threw me directly on the air with pretty much no warning – I suppose I could have hung up on the DJs, but they were already introducing me when I was connected through, so I stuck it out. It was only two minutes, with both of them talking over each other and me, topping off the bad connection, so I have little idea how I came across. Hopefully, I wasn’t on air when I hung up on the first guy… 🙂


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Almeida May 27, 2008 at 09:53

Congrats! You deserve the attention, although not the wake up calls.

Marc May 27, 2008 at 19:19

They really went to town on the strangeness part. Other than seeing these restaurants covered on travel & food channels I didn’t know much about the inner workings until you came along. Still, I didn’t find it strange just more or less expected.

But then again, when I first came here, I remember finding it strange that the word bar could also apply to bright, flourescently lit, enclosures where most people are found at tables sipping coffee instead of on stools drinking beer at the actual “bar.”

Anyway, congrats on the ever increasing exposure!

dan May 27, 2008 at 21:15

Thanks! Yeah, well, it’s interesting. I remember when we first started many of the Argentines who came found it very difficult to simply be seated with other people – and some of them still do, though I’m very careful now to make sure they understand that part upfront, which has lessened the awkwardness significantly. I think it’s just so not part of local culture that is seems very strange – until you point out that it’s not really that different from going to a dinner party at someone’s house where you’re sitting with other people who the host knows but you don’t. I think in a more commercial restaurant setting it would still be a tough sell here.

What I’ve found though, is that once they get over the initial awkwardness (and this goes for some of the non-Argentines as well) they tend to be the most active participants in the conversation – especially if there are people at the table who aren’t from here who really want to get a local opinion on various things to do, see, or just attitudes, politics, etc.

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