Buenos Aires preview

Argentina

The majority of shopping in Buenos Aires is done in specialty shops. It's more economical and you have a wider variety of products than in most of the grocery stores. Every couple of blocks in every barrio you'll find a small closet-sized produce shop (or 'verdulería') and a butcher's shop ('carnicería'). They are small and privately owned, and their hours tend to be 9am-9pm, with some variations. A little less common are the delis, but they do have the best selections of meats, cheese, olives, and nuts. Remember, though, that the deli meats in Buenos Aires are mostly pork-based, and it is an extreme oddity to be able to find smoked chicken or turkey. If you have any questions about something behind the case, just ask if you can try it -- "lo puedo probar?" -- and the salesperson will be more than happy to give you a sample.

In the verdulerías, the produce is out front and it seems as though you can help yourself, but the porters are there to gather things for you into small plastic bags. It is polite to wait until someone comes over to assist you. They will put the produce into a bag for you. If you want a particular piece, just point to it. It is perceived as rather abrasive to start grabbing the produce and putting it into a bag on y…