After living in Córdoba, Argentina for over a year I’ve put together a list of 10 things you never (or rarely) see in the United States that all but commonplace here in La Docta.
1. A grown-ass man eating an ice cream solo
A little bit of backstory: the ice cream in Argentina is delicious. Each parlor has assortment of flavors that would make Baskin Robbin himself insanely jealous. And each flavor is delicious. The ice cream shops are also everywhere. As plentiful as Starbucks are in San Francisco, so are the Gridos in Nueva Córdoba.
So with the cheap, easily accessible, and delicious ice cream available its not uncommon to see a grown man walking down the street by himself wolfing down an ice cream cone. Every time I see this it strikes me as funny because I don’t think I’ve ever seen this back at home.
2. Bags of milk
In the US milk is always in a carton. Here you can get in the bag. I guess pouches might be the correct term but its still weird to me every time I see it.
Also in this category – bagged yogurt, bagged mustard, bagged ketchup, bagged mayo.
3. Fernet with Coke
Coming from San Francisco, I’ve had my fair share of Fernet. But never with coke. That is THE drink here in Córdoba. And nowhere in the US will you see Fernet mixed with Coke and consumed on such a massive scale.
4. Recent graduates covered in egg, paint, flour, etc.
There is a tradition here where friends of recent university graduates join together for an intense shaming. Eggs, flour, paint, anything appears to be fair game.
I’ve seen hair clippers chop off full chunks of hair to celebrate. Awesome. I only wish I had a friend graduating soon.
One of my girlfriend’s friends recently finished a doctorate degree in Chemical Engineering. I tried to convince everyone that we needed to shame her with the eggs, flour, paint, etc. but sadly I was overruled.
5. T-Shirts with poorly worded or bizarre English expressions
T-shirts with English expressions on them are in style here in Córdoba. What’s not in style is hiring a fluent English speak to proof-read those shirts before they are printed.
I see a comical one everyday. I had to start whipping out my phone to take notes so I wouldn’t forget them. Prepare yourself for a great list of T-Shirts coming soon.
When I walking down the street and I see someone in the distance, far enough that I can make out English words but not close enough for details, I get giddy knowing that what is about to pass me is going to be great.
Just remember – Yes, when in doubt pizza.
6. Sidewalk mopping
Exactly what it sounds like. Many business owners get a mop and bucket and clean their sidewalk.
I’ve obviously seen sidewalk sweeping in the US but I can’t say I’ve ever seen sidewalk mopping.
7. Skeleton Keys
Argentina’s standard key system that always makes me think of old horror movies.
I wrote 400 words about a bidet previously on this blog so I won’t go into the details here. Suffice to say, I’m starting to use it more and more. I still wouldn’t say I’d miss the bidets if they were taken away from me because during a recent trip back to the US, they were taken away from me.
The bidets have yet to catch on in the US but I guess when and if they do, I’ll be the George Washington of bidets, ready to lead the proud Americans into battle.
9. Eggs/Milk not refrigerated in supermarkets
I’ve had some intense conversations with my girlfriend about this. Apparently milk and eggs do not need to be refrigerated here. I was extremely confused the first time I saw this in the supermarket.
This article explains why the eggs don’t need to be the fridge. The short version has to do with the differences between how the eggs are treated for salmonella poisoning in the US vs. here.
Same story with the milk. You can find the refrigerated version here in Córdoba too but its more expensive so most people buy the non-refrigerated type.
10. Plastic Bags
There is no paper or plastic alternative here. It’s plastic. And plastic bags are everywhere.
Sure, some places in the US probably still have plastic bags but not with the sheer quantity that Córdoba does.
Interestingly enough I don’t think there is a garbage bag market here. Everyone I know uses the extra plastic bags as garbage bags.
11. Old beat up bills
I’ve never seen any US paper money in the state that many Argentina bills are in. The $100 peso notes are typically in great shape, I’m talking about 10’s, 5’s and of course the 2’s. If some of the $2 peso notes could talk, oh the stories they would tell.
These notes are often on life support with several rounds of scotch tape keeping them going. Not to mention, they’re so old they have zero stiffness. Grabbing the note in the middle, the ends will not stay straight but will droop down.
Photo is Nueva Cordoba at night from our balcony