Asado in Argentina. Tourists flock to Argentina eager to try a tasty steak at an authentic Argentine steakhouse. The most celebrated culinary experience.
Tourists flock to Argentina eager to try a tasty steak at an authentic Argentine steakhouse. The most celebrated culinary experience enjoyed by Argentine’s themselves however, does not happen in a restaurant, but at a house, often in the backyard. This is where folks grill endless pounds of meat over an open flame, under sunny skies and surrounded by the warm company of friends and family. The event of the barbecue and the barbecued meat itself are both referred to as asado. Asados,along with Argentina’s impressive annual consumption of beef (the second highest in the world at 57 kg per person) remind us of the country’s historic cattle herding traditions, a time when gauchos, Argentina’s famous cattle herders of old, rode the open Pampas. Those lucky enough to get invited to an asado enjoy the chance to discover one of Argentina’s greatest passions. Argentine’s often rank this indulgent cookout tradition along with tango dancing, and soccer action as the country’s most beloved customs and sources of national identity.
Purchasing, preparing and grilling the food for an Argentinian asado all takes time, but nobody is ever in much of a hurry, as asados typically occur on weekends. Asados offer people the chance to forget about the pressures of time constraints that the work week may apply. The asador (person in charge of cooking) does not fire up the grill until guests begin arriving. While waiting for meats to finish their slow grilling, impatient guests munch on the picada; appetizers often in the form of olives, salami, cured ham, cheeses and bread to take the edge off the hunger that delicious aromas floating off the barbecue may inspire. One must remember not to overindulge at this early stage of the sometimes all day long event. This is just the tip of an enormous food iceberg.
The first meats to come sizzling off the fire may seem quite foreign to some international guests. Anchuras (organ meats) cook faster than other cuts, so the asador will serve these first, around the time salad makers finish tossing and preparing lettuce, tomato and onion, or potato salad arrangements. Yes, salads do make a quiet appearance at these carnivorous events. Anchuras commonly include chinchulin (intestine), morcilla (blood sausage), kidney or tripe. Again, keep in mind that eating will continue for some time.
The asador has a big responsibility, constantly monitoring the grill, considering how guests prefer their meats cooked, and tasting meat to make sure it has reached succulent perfection. Okay, that last task doesn’t sound very hard. Cooking however isn’t easy; the art and skill of Argentine barbecuing lies not so much in the preparation of the meat, which may only involve a bit of salting, but in the handling of the grill. The height of an Argentine grill is adjustable, and the asador must raise or lower the meat over the flame while searching for an appropriate doneness. Guests often show their appreciation and admiration of the asador with a rousing round of applause.
After enjoying anchuras, guests will go on to feast on juicy cuts of beef, lamb, pork, goat or chicken. Guests enjoy food with soft-drinks, wine or beer. The region’s traditional mate drink may also flow in generous abundance. A common dessert is ice cream. Guests generally linger long after the food is gone or they cannot fit anymore in their stomachs. After a day that encourages forgetting about time and excessive eating, nobody is in a hurry to go running off anywhere. People like to stick around and continue hanging out with fellow asado goers. The event can last more than 12 hours. Needless to say, guests generally go home content, ready to repeat the experience soon, possibly the following weekend.