Photo: The Mighty Tim Inconnu
SO. YOUR PARENTS ARE COMING to visit you.
You said you were only coming to Buenos Aires for six weeks and here you are, six months later, still eating shawarma at 7am like the functional adult you are. (Good for you, you followed your dreams. Langston Hughes is proud.) Now your mom calls you and says politely, “We’re coming to visit… we just miss you so much, honey.” But then your dad picks up the phone and growls: “We want to know when this spirit quest is going to be over.” Gulp. Should have put them on limited profile, fool.
What on earth does one do with parents in Buenos Aires? When your friends come to visit, you know the drill: Boliche to brunch to the Obelisco and back to the boliche. Rinse and repeat. They all go home saying “ZOMG Buenos Aires, you’re life is like, such a buena onda quilombo, you lucky boluda.” And you will choke back the desire to slap that misappropriated castellano out of their mouths because they brought you peanut butter. Che, friendship.
But you slapping your parents is frowned upon and so is bringing them to the boliche, so what to do?
Don’t stay up until 7am.
Here’s a tale from an anonymous coworker we’ll call “Juliette”:
“My mom had just arrived and was jetlagged so after dinner I thought I could go out. I got too drunk and passed out at my friends. The next morning she couldn’t find me and was frightened.” Wow Juliette, that’s not ideal, did she call the embassy? “Almost, but not that time, she did when I went missing in Bangkok though. I had 100 missed calls from the ambassador and a hangover when I woke up.” Applause for Juliette, for becoming the British Embassy’s most wanted. #Shero
Short Version: Don’t stay out or pray your parents don’t have the embassy on speed dial.
Avoid foreign joints
This is in no way a personal story. But maybe your parents will spot you eating a bagel with some of your fellow “creatively employed,” hungover amigos and ask everyone what they do for a living. After listening quietly for two minutes, your father will question your life choices with his eyes and you will want to die.
Short version: Hide your yanqui friends, this is an Argentines-only vacation.
What to do. What to do. Don’t get confused. I know you probably met their parents accidentally the first morning after you stumbled out of their bedroom in last night’s boliche wear and it was no big deal. But remember who you are, Simba. That shit will not fly the other way around. I find a good rule for relationships is to just never let your parents know anything until they roll up to your house in the ‘burbs and see a strange man called Facu washing your car and toddlers running about. Let the ruse continue!
Short version: Hide your novio. (Unless you have a functional relationship with your parents in which case bring them along, just tell them to button up that polo for the love of god).
Okay. Now that we’ve finished mansplaining your own life to you, what to do with them? The goal here is to actually have fun with your parents doing activities that they pay for like the strong independent women y’all are. Vamos.
Let’s start with the best first.
Let’s take the narrow view that your parents have more money than you do. I mean… they’ve got a few years on you and they probably earn in a stronger currency so, yes, let’s go with that. Your most important task is convincing your parents to take you to restaurants while they are here. All of the restaurants. I suggest eating four meals a day.
It’s the mouth-watering parrilla that you never even dreamed of. It’s a dusty San Telmo joint covered in fútbol jerseys to be sure, but don’t let the unassuming decor fool you. You’ll write love songs to that sweet, sweet lomo that will make Adele weep.
Palermo alternatives: Las Cabras and the classic Don Julio.
This ode to Peruvian cuisine is apparently fucking delicious. It’s ceviche, what more could you want? Bonus points: It’s located in a gorgeous block of Palermo Hollywood that looks like you stepped through the looking glass and straight out of Argentina; cheto dreamland.
But seriously though. This tapas Indian fusion restaurant is short on decor, long on flavor. You can order plate after plate after plate because they are tapas (shakes fist) and there is never enough. Swiss chard Pakoras, talk dirty to me.
The real merienda deal. This place has been around for over 100 years, located in the authentically porteño, non-yanquified Almagro barrio. They have famously served the masses heaping platters of cakes by the kilo and medialunas since 1884. The line goes out the door, but its worth it for your padres to witness the splendor of our version of high tea. Which is how you should explain it to them, the anglophiles.
Alternative: Cafe Tortoni. Same deal, same lines, plus live tango.
The Argentine Experience
Sign them up! This is the whole shebang. For US $115, your parents will be fully immersed in an interactive evening of Argentine food. They will learn to make empanadas, they will learn to drink mate, they will learn how to order steak. They will drink a lot of alcohol and call it cocktail class.
El Boliche de Roberto
This old tango joint and bar is named for its founder, Roberto. Every night an old man whose name I don’t know croons old tango songs to this tiny room, which still has bullet holes in the window panes to commemorate police brutality. Ah, yesteryear. Such barbaric rule. Oh no, wait just kidding. If your parents went to Woodstock in ’69, this is for them. If they went to a Mitt Romney fundraiser, it is most decidedly not.
If you really want to go fully posh with your parental unit, make reservations here. It made the list of the 50 Best Latin American restaurants, coming in at No. 7. The outside of the restaurant is practically unmarked. Yeah man, that good.
If your parents are the lively sort, take ’em. If they are not, don’t. Please reference the Woodstock ’69/Mitt Romney scale so creatively created above. You won’t be able to procure matches to a Boca-River game, but tickets to other matches are easier to come by on the clubs’ official websites. Please prepare them for insanity — tell them it will be like the party you threw that they busted when you thought they were out of town. Maybe don’t remind them about that party.
It’s the Argentine classic. One look at the attractive humans kicking their heels up in San Telmo and you’ll think you’re ready for Dancing with the Stars. Like, how hard could it really be?
Special attention should be paid to the Eva Peron Museum, as a beautiful mansion that you can send your parents to without having to accompany them. Libertad! The historic building was once the home of a wealthy family before Evita told them “Boy Bai” and turned into a refuge for unwed mothers. The museum now houses a library and gorgeous old school café in addition to its collection.
There are guided tours of the theater every 15 minutes, which last for 50 minutes. You can buy tickets online or just show up. You can find more information about the tour here and a calendar of shows here, it’s worth it because the inside looks like Cinderella got bored and went nuts home-makeover style.
A historic office building near Casa Rosada. Doesn’t sound exciting? Think again. The design of the building is based on the nine circle of hell in Dante’s Inferno. It’s even rumored to have some of Dante’s ashes. Nothing says “fun for the whole family” like crispy remains. Tell your parents that this BA’s version of Sagrada Familia. Why are we telling you to convince your parents that this is Europe? I don’t know man, tell me your parents are afraid of the mean streets of Paris and Barcelona. Parents, they just don’t understand.
Take them for a long walk amongst the roses. Much like a toddler, it is important to tire your parent out. Less time for questioning. More time for the previa. You can take your parents paddle-boating if they are the National Lampoon types, or take them to lunch in the Japanese gardens (even offer to pay the modest entrance fee to prove you have your life together). It’s a really beautiful way to spend an afternoon.
Last thing to do before you drop them off at Ezeiza? Thank them. Thank your parents. Have you ever hung out with a 4-year-old? They ask a lot of questions like “Is there god? Does he live here? Can I play with his trains? What’s on your face? A pimple? I don’t like it. Give me back my booger I want to eat it.” You did that to your parents. You did that.
*I would like to shout out to my parents, who came to visit me here, and like the overwhelmingly supportive Jewish people they have read every. single. one. of my articles. All of them. So mom, dad, Hi! Hello how are you? And in the words of the bard of our times Justin Bieber… “Is it too late now to say sorry?”