An Argentinian barbecue

By Carolyn Tiernan

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Courtesy of Carolyn Tiernan

On Saturday night I went to an asado at my friends’ Daniel, Kendra, and Corey’s home stay. An asado is basically an Argentinian barbecue, but very different from the American meaning of the word. The word “asado” refers to both the actual grill that the meat is cooked on, and the social event that accompanies it. Corey made some Argentine friends at the bar we watched the Superbowl at, so they were in charge of the grilling, which I’m told was some $350 pesos worth of meat! My roommate Colleen and I brought a cut of meat ourselves, but everyone else brought wine. All the guests were other students in our program, but ones that I had never met before. I always enjoy meeting a new group of people!

We arrived around 9pm and the meat was still very raw looking on the parrilla. The parrilla is what Argentines call their grill. It can have grates, like what we think of for a normal grill, but instead of coal charcoal, they cook using wood charcoal after it’s burnt down.  To pass the time, we drank our wide assortment of wine. I’ve actually come to like red wine here, although I only ever drink Malbecs (the wine that Argentina is most known for).

When the meat finally did arrive, it came in about five different rounds with chimmichurri sauce. The first round was pork with a side of bread. I have no idea what spices were used or what cut the meat was, but it was the most delicious pork I’ve ever eaten. Next came the chorizo. Chorizo is a type of sausage that is usually a mix of pork and beef. It’s the closest thing to the American breakfast sausage here, but they never eat it for breakfast. Again, a heavenly dish. Next came beef with a side of grilled eggplant. I want to say this cut of beef was vacio, but I’m not entirely sure. I had never eaten eggplant until I came to Buenos Aires, but they love it here! It was at this point that Delia, the host mom, whipped out her special pickled eggplant. Although it sounds incredibly strange or possibly gross, it was actually really good! Two more rounds of beef with grilled peppers came after, but most people couldn’t touch the last couple of courses because we were so full. That’s the benefit of never eating the bread basket, I don’t get filled up on straight carbs so I can always eat more than everyone else!

This meal left me in a serious food coma, but it was so worth it! I don’t know how I’m going to go back to eating meat in the United States…it’s just not the same. The Argentine guys that did the grilling said that whenever they’ve gone to the US, all they eat is fish, never meat. I’m not sure if I can manage that, but hopefully I can pick up some tips on how to host my own asado when I return!

Carolyn Tiernan can be reached for comment at [email protected].