Of cafes and minor thievery

This afternoon I went with a few classmates of mine to a well-known cafe in San Telmo called La Poesía (pictured above). It’s a typical porteño cafe, on a corner. Big windows with two-person tables lined up out front on the sidewalk. Inside, one can sit and chat under the swinging fiambres and feel, well, literary. (Most of the tables at La Poesía are adorned with tarnished metal plaques indicating the great writers who might have sat in your very spot, composing their master works while sipping cortados or tragos into the wee hours).

Buenos Aires has a strong cafe culture–not unlike Paris. During rush hour the tables throughout the city fill up with cigarette-smoking locals and guide-book-toting tourists alike. They drink coffee or order liters of beer and chat until the traffic subsides or the dinner hour arrives. Also, as in Paris, the cafes are fantastic locals to eves-drop on debates about literature, foreign policy, local politics, or anything else people are talking about. And any time you’re wandering the city, you can’t go more than two blocks without finding an open cafe–no matter the hour.

What’s more: The city has developed a list of ‘cafés y bares notables‘ all of which hold some kind of historical or architectural significance. The bureaucrat who had the job of selecting these places is one lucky bastard. As is the one from the Ministry of Culture who chose all the pizza joints in the city-sponsored book, “Pizzerías de valor patrimonial de Buenos Aires.”

If you, dear readers, can keep a secret I’ll tell you something: I like to steal the tiny espresso spoons from the restaurants and cafes I go to, here or anywhere. I snuck one from La Poesía into my boot and hobbled home, a good two miles, with the thing pressed against my ankle.  But don’t worry. I always leave a good tip.

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