One of Argentina’s most famous TV-chefs, Narda Lepes has been dedicating her life to food for the past 20 years. After traveling the world and spending time in places far, far away from Buenos Aires, she came back and has since launched a successful and lucrative career. Since 2007 she has published two books: Comer y Pasarla Bien and Guía de Compras: Qué. Cómo. Dónde.
The first time I saw her show on tv I wasn’t impressed. In fact, I kind of hated her. She has this weird manner of speaking that comes across as a little cavalier, a little arrogant, all mixed with this odd thing that sounds like a lisp. She pissed me off a little bit. But I kept watching because I like to suffer in strange ways, like by watching food/cooking shows when I’m starving and there isn’t anything to eat in the house. Hating the host/chef is just the icing on the cake.
I got over my aversion to Narda when I bought her Guía de Compras – It’s actually pretty amazeballs. It automatically stripped me of my right to complain that I can’t find anything here in Buenos Aires (from peanut butter to shiitake mushrooms to random Asian fruits and veg to a good set of knives). The book is a well-organized guide to all things gastro in BA. A nice little plus is that Narda even includes a small notebook that you can keep in your bag at all times for note taking, recipe recording and little reminders. Awwww, thanks Narda! (Actually it is a convenient little bit.)
There are multiple sections in the Guía: Bakeries, Delis, Chocolate Shops, Tea & Coffee, Ice Cream, Butchers, Fish Markets, Markets & Ferias, Wine …. Even home décor and bookshops are covered. It’s a compact and comprehensive way to cover a lot of ground. To break up the monotony, Narda has included mini interviews with influential people in her life – her aunts, close friends, and favorite butchers/pastry chefs/vegetable salesmen.
I can’t recommend the book highly enough if you’re living in Buenos Aires and feeling insanely frustrated about the “lack of ____” that plagues daily life. The truth is, most of the things we’re looking for are out there. You just have to dig. And thanks to Narda, arrogance and all, she’s done the legwork and put it all together for you. Do yourself a favor and pick it up.