Posted by: elsalamigrande | February 12, 2010

PISTACHIOPISTACHIOPISTACHIO! MAL-TIN! GET’CHER MAL-TIN RIGHT HEAH!

There wasn’t much drama left in Porlamar after the extra innings loss to Mexico. The Leones weren’t climbing out of the hole, and the crowd knew it. Still, the estadio was just over half full for the next night’s game – A 7-1 drubbing at the hands of Puerto Ricans, who ended up getting hot too late in the tournament to matter. The Dominicans would be crowned on the Sunday.

We had good seats for that game, back in the VIP lower boxes where the chairs didn’t cut and the view was free of obstructions. With the home team down early, the game took on a more familiar feel, one closer to the minor league ballgames back home, where everyone’s there for the sake of being there. A beer tab sufficiently secured, we checked out the ballpark fare on the concourse.

Hamburguesa

The Veneuelan hamburger, The hamburguesa, comes standard with several toppings almost never found on its Canadian/American counterpart. These are: shoestring potatoes, ham and a fried egg. Also standard are the more familiar lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and two separate applications of ketchup and mayonnaise, one on the bun and one on the shoestring potatoes. The shoestring potatoes were a nice surprise, but the ham and egg threw me.  I’m a no-pork guy, so I now order mine “sin jamon”.

In or out of the ballpark, hamburguesas offer terrific bang for your buck, averaging 15 – 25 VBF and coming in chicken, beef, pork and “mixto”, which is all three.

Perro Calientes


I’m told that it’s only in Venezuela that the name for hotdog is literally translated. I have no way of confirming this. In any case, the ballpark dogs are nothing special. They come with the shoestring potatoes and mayo and ketchup that we remember from the hamburguesa, but I couldn’t find anything worth cooing over here. My main complaint is too much bun. The dog itself didn’t scream flavor to me, despite being cooked on a very impressive charcoal grill.

Maltin


I haven’t seen anything marketed quite as heavily as Maltin, aside maybe the 2010 Olympics. There are billboards everywhere, painted walls, bus ads, banners. The Maltin logo and the logo of Maltin light adorn napkin holders, bus stops and the home-run fence at Estadio Nueva Esparta. An often repeated television ad has the standard young people, having way more fun than anyone ever does hanging around after school, watching a baseball game on TV at a hamburguesa stand and doing other young, fun, refreshing things, maltin perpetually in hand. So, upon purchasing a frosty cold maltin at the ballpark with my perro caliente, I can safely and dutifully report, as your editor, that it is without question the most disgusting thing I’ve ever tasted coming out of a can.

Maltin is malt liquor without the liquor. It has this kind of… flavor, like fermented soy husks or something. I’m not a big fan of throwing away things I’ve paid for, but there was no way in hell that either myself or my partner in crime could stomach more than two sips of Maltin. In fact, apart from a row of school age children being taken to the Puerto Rico / Dominican Republic day game by a glorified babysitter who had a can each doled out to them at snack time along with a kitkat bar and a muffin, I haven’t seen a single person drinking this stuff. I’d be interested to find out if anyone knew whether or not Maltin has an established following in Venezuela or anywhere else, or if it’s just being rammed down people’s throats by marketing. The stuff is unequivocally foul.

The Meat Platter

Bar-b-q fans take note, the Venezuelans know how to do it. We encountered this rare treat in the concession area adjacent to the 1st base cheap seats. This section is separated by the rest of the concourse by a one way door and an armed guard. In theory, the privileged may mix with the proletariat, probably to get bbq, but I saw no evidence of trans-class mixing.

The grill fired up in the final innings of the night game, so that the charcoal was ready just into the break. Once hot, the grill was piled with sausage, meat, other kind of meat, other kind of sausage, and chicken. The line formed as soon as the first plate was ready – without a doubt the biggest concession line of the trip. A user was entitled to a portion of each kind of meat piled high atop a plate full of potatoes and coleslaw until just before it threatened to fall off. 50 VBF, which is somewhere under ten bucks depending on who changes your money. Mayonaise, mustard, ketchup and napkins are user applied.

Having already eaten a hamburguesa, I opted for only the chicken, and was greeted with a puzzled look by the server who, after making sure she understood me correctly, conveyed this odd information to the man manning the grill who shook his head, piled on the chicken, passed it down the line to the server who passed it to me an charged me only 20 VBF. It was easily some of the best char-grilled chicken I’ve ever had. All leg and thigh, hacked in to bite sized pieces with the bone in. A beautiful smokey char-grilled flavor that just screams summer.

Taquenos

There isn’t much to these little deep fried heart attacks. They’re just a slice or two of cheese, rolled up in dough and deep fried to perfection. A pack of 5 costs 6 VBF and it’s easy to wonder half way into the third one what the hell you were thinking. Mrs. ElSalamiGrande, the resident taqueno expert, is adamant that the ones sold in the bleacher seats are far better than the ones sold to the VIPs. Cheezier, hotter and saltier.

Snacks

Not a peanut to be found. Chips (corn, potato and plantain), and pistachios are abundant and can be had for around 6 VBF. “PISTACHIO,PISTACHIO,PISTACHIO!” is a common war cry among vendors, as are ear piercing whistles.

Beer


What’s a ballgame without beer? Not much in the way of selection down at the ol’ estadio. The brewer giant here is called Polar, and their corporate stamp is on everything – including Maltin. The flagship brands Polar Ice and Polar Light, both mirage like lagers that make Bud Light taste like Guiness, are all you can get at the stadium. 5 VBF per 222ml bottle, poured into the kind of plastic cup that you might use to drink from the water cooler at your dentist’s office. The vendors, who hustle cases of these bottles up and down stairs, were all more than happy to run tabs for us, but I sometimes had to take their word for it when we settled up. Not because I was drunk, but because I wasn’t. How many three ounce beers can a man keep track of while he’s watching a game?

Outside of the Estadio, Solera (also a Polar product) and Polar Pilsen are respectable brews that come in respectable sizes. I would suppose that these are kept out of the Estadio for some notion of crowd control if it weren’t for the fact that whiskey vendors are common. I guess you just make more selling watery beer.

All in all, the ballpark food was worth the trek down in and of itself. Anyone who’s still reading should stay tuned for more bloggy goodness concerning windsurfing, oyster toting beach hustlers, the upcoming jump to Panama, and the long awaited payoff on operation ball-gear-for-kids.

Advertisements

Responses

  1. hope your having a blast bro….. now hand out that ball gear.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: