Those Barbaric Argentines

Asado-over-coals
Asado-over-coals

Take a trip to South America. There are a dozen countries you can choose from. Might I suggest one that is close to my heart? It is one where I have spent over three years of my life living. Fly into Buenos Aires first. There are plenty of places to fly off to later, but you must get a taste of this soulful city. The Argentine people are a tough, but gentle bunch. You may walk the street and like any big city, there is rarely a smile on anyone’s face. They have seen and lived in some tough times. With the current inflation rate floating around 25%, there is no wonder why these people walk around with some hardened faces when they do not know what the value of their hard-earned money is going to be worth the following day. Just have a read over the country’s history over the last half century. These people are survivors.

But relax, this is just a hardened outer shell. Go see a tango show and have a few afternoons walking around their various eclectic neighborhoods or barrios. Get to know the real people and they will invite you into their homes as if you have been a friend since their entire lives. They are warm, soulful and the majority are well-read and know most about other countries’ history better than the people who live there themselves. If you happen to be around on a Sunday, you will most likely get invited to an ‘asado’. Asado is a cut of meat which contains the ribs of the cow, but the ribs are the short cut. The meat is surrounded by a juicy layer of fat. This is not like any other beef around the world, the meat here is actually really good even eating the fat parts. However, when you are invited to an asado, this is another term for grill out or barbeque. The asado cut itself will just be one of the numerous other cuts off the parilla (the local name for a wood-fired grill).

If you are invited to one of these, do not come empty handed. You do not need to bring any food. They will be thrilled if you bring a bottle or two of wine and if it is hot enough just bring a couple chilled liters of the locally and nationally known brew, Quilmes. I recommend not eating breakfast. It is usually an early lunch and you will need the space in your stomach to enjoy all that will be piled in front of you. Chinchulinis the crispy grilled intestines served with fresh squeezed lemon, mollejas, tender sweet breads, riñones (kidney), followed by some morcilla, the local blood sausage. I suggest you get a baguette and just spread that stuff on top of a couple slices. It is so rich and delicious. Then chorizo (similar to a bratwurst), asado, chicken, vacio (flank steak) and entraña (skirt steak). Sometimes it all comes out with some morrones or halved capsicums that were thrown on the fire with an egg cooked inside, some steak fries and an ensalada mixta, which is just a simple romain salad with tomato and raw onion.

Are you booking your ticket for Argentina yet? If you are not fortunate enough to meet any locals to invite you to such a feast, do not fret. All over Argentina, all you have to do is pop into a local parilla and they can serve you up the same good meaty and barbaric eats. Of course enjoy the wine too, I hear they are famous for Malbec (wink, wink). I do not think there is a better wine to go with all this red meat! Happy travels!

Photo thanks to Indigo

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