Asado Pampa Argentina consists of meat, usually a large piece from the animal´s ribs (“asado de costilla”), that is roasted on a iron spit on embers made of wood for 4/5 hours in an open space.
“The beef diet must have a wonderful effect in hardening and strengthening the gauchos: they scarcely ever have anything the matter with them…”(Hinchliff – 1863)
Today, the main dish in the Buenos Aires Pampa is beef cooked in a grill with embers made of a native tree like espinillo and some others.
And if there exists one style of eating that defines an Argentina person in the eyes fo the foreigner, it is the Argentina asado originally produced by the gauchos.
Identified by the use of the parrilla, this primitive form of cooking meat, the lifeblood of the gaucho and the dwellers of the vast pampas, and later adopted by towns-people and Buenos Aires city folk, is the trademark of our national gastronomy.
From its simplest to its most opulent form, it is almost impossible to tour around the country without coming face to face with a parrilla at work.
Today´s asado pampa argentina, prepared on the parrilla, is a far cry from the roasts of yesterday in the Estancias.
An Italian Jesuit, Cayetano Cattaneo, wrote about his experiences while travelling horseback riding the pampa Argentina at the start of the 18th century, including a description of the manner of cooking adopted by the “guazos” ( gauchos ).
“No less curious is their way of eating meat. They kill a cow or bull and while some cut its throat the others commence to dismember it so that in a quarter of an hour it is all in pieces on the beach. A fire is then lit and each one fashions a spit with a stick on which they impale two or three pieces of meat which is still warm, to them it is tender.
The spits are stuck in the ground, slightly inclined towards the fire… In less than a quarter of an hour, when the meat is barely browned, it is devoured however tough it may be and however much blood it sprays around.”
This illustrates two things quite clearly: the spit came before the grill on the pampas (though not in the hills and mountains of the Northwest), and Argentina tastes have changed substantially since those days.
Today it is difficult to find an Argentina person who eats meat that is not overcooked when not almost burnt.
Concolorcorvo, the traveller and writer: “Many times four or five of them (the gauchos) gather on horseback with the pretext to have a good time, taking with them no more than their lazo (lasso), their boleadoras and a knife. They decide to eat a cow or steer; it is brought down, tied by its feet and, almost still alive, remove from it the hide which is pricked on the side with meat and roasted, badly and half raw to be eaten with no other dressing but salt, if they have any with them.”
Those were the days when the asado had invaded the houses of ill repute, the dance halls, and – above all – the political committees who obtained votes by means of abundant promises, wine and asado.
Asado pampa argentina partially extracted from “El gaucho gourmet” by Derek Foster: Buy the book Gaucho Gourmet
You can enjoy your own empanadas while in one of these Tours in the Pampa Argentina and Estancias: Estancia and gaucho town San Antonio de Areco
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Si prefiere leer en Español: aquí tiene un sitio donde explican sobre el Asado Argentino