In a country famous for it’s meat, you’d better believe there’s a proper way to throw down a good BBQ. Lucky for you, I’ve created this easy to follow guide for having a traditional Asado in your own backyard.
Go see your buddy at the market and if you are cooking for ten people, buy enough dead animal for 20.
Hike down to the nearby river, gather tree trunk sized pieces of driftwood and start an enormous fire.
Open magnum sized bottles of red wine from Mendoza (your relative’s vineyard of course) and debate over which cassette tapes of Gaucho (country) music to play.
If you’ve bought a whole lamb, season it with salt only and hang it on a cruz (metal crucifix looking thing). Angle the whole animal upright leaning towards the roaring flames and a couple feet back. Cook the inside first before turning it around and making the skin all brown and crispy. Continue to pound red wine from Mendoza. Did I mention you’re opening wine with steak knives?
Shovel hot coals, some under lamb, but most under cast iron grates/tables (aka the parilla) near the fire.
Thinly slice potatoes and slap them down on the flat cast iron table w/plenty of oil. Season w/salt/pepper/aji. Maybe switch to drinking Fernet Branca in Coke and/or pound more red wine. Turn Gaucho tape to side B.
Slowly roast all other red meat and offal on the grate, season w/only salt!
When the meat is ready to go (nice med-rare), slice it up, put it in a fresh baked whitebread bun w/ nothing else! Everyone gets a sandwich. Everyone drinks. There’s no dancing, but lots of laughter.
Once you’re all fed, bust out the classical guitar and sing old Gaucho songs until 4am.
If you disagree with any of the steps above, please take up your complaints with Domingo, the gaucho who owns El Refugio Campsite in El Chalten, preferably before the fire/meat-eating/wine drinking commences each evening.
The second day in our Santiago Hostel, Hostal Providencia, we noticed a sign up sheet for free terre mottos. Having taken a tour of the city the day before we had been educated as to the popularity and the strength of this drink whose name translates to ‘earthquake.’ Free drinks at a hostel, you ask? Yes, there were and yes, we signed up immediately.
As we approached the patio for our free drinks that night we were welcomed by the sound of a gentle guitar and singing. While many people were seated at the picnic tables chatting, two Brazilian guys were playing the guitar and singing Brazilian songs. We had been sitting for only a minute or two with our beverages before the musicians welcomed us into the conversation. It turned out that almost the entire crowd was Brazilian! We had been drinking for only a pitcher or two until another Brazilleno arrived with a bag of traditional instruments, which he handed out with no mind to skill or comfort level. As the terre mottos sunk in, I didn’t know if I was in Santiago or São Paulo, all I cared about was refilling my cup when the next pitcher arrived and making sure that the washboard-like ‘jeca jeca’ (or something like that) I was playing was on beat to the now high decibel raucous rhythm surrounding us. It was the kind of music you would definitely want to be contributing to as opposed to listening to while trying to sleep in your hostel bed. I looked over and saw Jordan shaking a gourd draped with beads, and loving every second of it. It was a fantastic night and best of all, we met our new group of friends who we enjoyed Santiago with for the rest of the week!
Want to ‘feel the earthquake’? Here is the recipe:
Room temperature bottle of white wine
1/4 oz Fernet
1 oz grenadine
Pineapple Ice Cream
Mix all ingredients in a pitcher, stir to dissolve ice cream, taste, add white wine as needed. Take caution as this is quite easy to drink!
Victor catches us a fish in morning, I share with him the Ceviche I made from it for lunch, and later in the day he comes by with an amazing homemade ball of cocao. He told us his father had made it from his own trees in a nearby town.
Indigenous tribes used the cacao beans as a form of currency in Pre-Colombian times, and it continued to be a form of currency through the 1930’s. The Spanish sweetened it by adding sugar cane or honey. Fast forward to 1979 when a fungus wiped out 95% of the crops. These days, you can find the bean making a resurgence in the form of small batch farms and Cacao tours throughout the country. Health wise, it has more antioxidants than red wine, blueberries and green tea. The taste is quite bitter, so if you get your hands on some of the good raw stuff, here’s one suggestion of what to do with it.
Spiced Latin Hot Chocolate
T Grated Raw Cacao
T Brown Sugar
t Agave Nectar
Scant of Cayenne to taste
Garnish with Strawberry
Grate cacao into a sauce pot. Turn the heat on med-low and add a small amount of water so that you can whisk it together and make a slurry. Once smooth, begin adding milk and all other ingredients. Keep it moving so that the milk doesn’t scald, If you’re really feeling froggy, throw some bailey’s in it!
What would you do with a ball of raw cacao from Costa Rica??!