His name is Gustavo Converso and every morning he wakes up and comes to the same place that I live in, Granja Converso. Word on the line is that this place has been here in Almagro for the past 20 years. They say that this place on the corner of Lavalle and Billinghurst has been growing, especially over the past two years because of the internet and word-of-mouth.
Someone was asking questions the other day, and I found out things I never knew about Gustavo. He was born here, in Buenos Aires, but his parents came from Italy in the 1950s after the war. His family started a business here, but it wasn’t until 20 years ago that he came to this corner. I’m really thankful he did, because if he hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here today. Apparently, he has a brother, I think I’ve seen him around. He’s a doctor, I hear. Different kind of cut.
I like Gustavo. He’s a solid guy and you can tell he loves what he does. Heck, he made me and I know he’s pretty proud about that. He keeps calling me the spicy one. I am told that the others on the line are more mild mannered and have even been referred to as “sheepish”.
Now, it finally leaked. He just said how his favourite thing to do is to prepare the meat and to make us, the fiambres with the spices.
It’s a diverse community here in the Granja all thanks to Gustavo. I’ve heard that ñandu have come from the south and llama from the north. Gustavo also talks a lot about chicken, buffalo, partridge, rabbit, and deer. They tell me that once a year, around October or November, the shop is filled with turkeys. I was also told stories of how there used to be capybaras, but legend has it that they are disappearing quickly, so they don’t come around anymore. When they come, they come from the small, independent producers outside the city. Apparently, nowhere else in Buenos Aires can you find these many different kinds of meat.
Even though Gustavo has been on the same corner for 20 years, everyone talks about how he is always looking for something different to try. Maybe, because he’s been here through tumultuous times, people can trust his experiments with new products. He’s progressive in other ways, he’s willing to try anything to use in a meal. Right below me, there are these hot sauces. One hot sauce has raspberries, this one is made from jalapenos and they are all from Argentina. Apparently, spices are not common in the city, but Gustavo will try them Sometimes, things can change while being the same.
The people who come also like trying these different things for their weekend asados. They will come here and ask for different cuts of meat or they will try the llama from the north. It’s small in a way, but still important that people are trying new things.
As for Gustavo, he said he’s old-fashioned and prefers a good old-fashioned cut of ribs thrown on the parrilla. It has that good taste that comes from meat off the bone. It’s not like the lomo or vacio, it’s a meatier kind of taste. And like I thought, he eats it with his family for the Sunday asado. But sometimes, they mix it up and eat it on a Saturday.
Gustavo has not travelled much outside the county, mostly around the north and along the east coast of Argentina to visit friends. He said he would like to travel one day, but that he will keep trying new things while staying in the same place. He said he’s happy when someone walks away with one of us from the line and comes again to ask for more. It means they enjoyed it.