Saturday, January 10, 2009
Move Over Starbucks
On every damn corner in the urban northeastern US there is Starbucks. We can’t live without Starbucks in North America. Here in BA there are two Starbucks that I know of (although I just saw one that looked like it might open soon on Corrientes the other day), but I have yet to actually go into one and buy anything.
Instead the Argentines and now me are obsessed with helado or ice cream. On every corner there is heladeria, ranging from grungy places where a pockmarked teenager is stuffing your dulce de leche ice cream into a tiny cone to places where a grown man in a neatly pressed uniform is handing you a cuarto (quarter kilo, about a pint) in packaging that was designed by Dior.
Seriously. Welcome to a taste of third world luxury a la ice cream. What my glam heladeria and Starbucks share is a touch of lux - for all. Call it democratic in the crudest sense of the word. Nearly everyone can afford ice cream – even if you just buy it once a month- and nearly everyone can afford Starbucks with the same conditions. For some, it can be a daily or thrice weekly occurrence, for others it can be a splurge after a job well done or a report card of good grades.
Now I realize that 15 pesos /5 bucks is a lot of money for some people, am not going to discount that reality. But my point is that for that kind of money, you are able to buy an experience whether it's hipster coffee or glamorous ice cream. Even if you have the tiniest bit of disposable income you have to treat yourself, right?
Fortunately for the Argentines they seem to have a better metabolism than me, so they can treat themselves a little more often.