It’s the least com-pe-tent night … of the year

You can imagine the employment history of the wait staff who have to work Christmas Eve, and the business model of the restaurants that choose to stay open. I attempted to jigger the trip schedule, but given the desiderata of ProTools 8 shipping at an unknown date, and intending to drive from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia and arrive before January 6 — well, we had to be newly arrived here on Christmas Eve.

La Retirada, in Palermo SoHo, is part of a small chain of tourist establishments and has a Christmas Dinner for Tourists at Loose Ends, for $190 Argentine (about $60 US, per person). This includes wine and bottled water, with indefinite refills. We’ll be pretty lucky if it’s the worst meal we have this trip, but the Argentinians were better off staying home and I hope the waiters have better luck drawing straws next year. (There were only two of them.) The food was better than the Olive Garden, but not so good as a Monday Night Without Cyndi place, let alone Monday Night With Cyndi. I have a restaurant category in my mind, of places where they take a good deal of care with the main course, but the vegetables are the same no matter what you order. The pork and gravy, and sirloin steak both came with the same grilled eggplants, in the instant case. The eggplants weren’t done correctly, either. Eggplants are difficult and should be left off the menu if you’re short-handed and the world is full of summer squashes.

I’ve read in the guidebooks that the Argentinians don’t fetishize tender beef the way Americans do, or Japanese. A Japanese diner would not recognize this version of Argentinian Beef. A Japanese person would use it as building material.

But: there was no Christmas music. Rock !! The loudspeaker might not have played “Mr. Hankey” but it didn’t play Little Drummer Boy, either. (They did play a Spanish cover of Twist and Shout).

On reflection, I think this has been a Little Drummer Boy-free Holiday Season. I count my life truly well spent if I can go through the whole of Christmas without hearing Little Drummer Boy. You should make the effort, too.