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
For booking the most Real gauchos Tour Buenos Aires Areco Estancia
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Si prefiere leer en Español: aquí tiene un sitio donde explican sobre el Asado Argentino
The gaucho pulperias in the pampa (popular name for a sort of bar or tavern) was the main place of reunion and entertainment for both rural gauchos and urban popular sectors until the close of the XIX century.
They were places where popular classes found possibilities to share the “freedom” to drink, to play, to negociate, to manifest their disagreement and express everything that was repressed by the stiff rules of social control during that period in Argentina.
Pulperias established within the confines of estancias, or accompanying troops on their way to the frontier in the pampa, acted as the fundamental venues for these bonds. They reinforced ties between “boss and peon” or among armed men.
The characteristics of the pampas inhabitants made this specific form of sociability unique even within traditional sociability. The instability of work, liiving arrangements, and forms of family life made it difficult to establish lasting bonds.
The weakness of social ties made the situation of the rural population more akin to that of the individual in modern society than to that faced by a member of colonial society in Buenos Aires. The type of egualitarian relationships that flourished in the pulperias was yet another characteristic that distinguished these social encounters from those found in a traditionally hierarchical society.
Moreover, since the pulperia was the only meeting place for an isolated and heterogeneous population of gauchos working in Estancias, it was not only a center for spreading the news – a necessary condition for any modern political culture – but also a place to sing folkloric songs and recite poetry, the cultural forms in which gauchos’ sorrows and joys were expressed.
In other words, it was a forum for “gaucho discourse,” instituted on the basis of the traditional sense of liberty and equality.
Extracted from: Revolution and Restoration: The Rearrangement of Power in Argentina, 1776-1860 edited by Mark D. Szuchman, Jonathan Charles Brown: This and some other related thoughts in: The gaucho experience
Travellers at a Gaucho Pulperias:
The pulperias in Argentina are the rendezvous of the gauchos, who set no value upon money, and spend it only in gambling and drinking. Their custom is to invite all present gauchos to drink with them; they have a large pitcher full of canespirit (for they dislike wine), which they pass round.
This ceremony they repeat so long as they have a penny left, and they consider it as an affront if any one declines the invitation.
Every pulperia nearby an Estancia is provided with a guitar, and whoever plays on it is treated at the expense of the company. These musicians of the pampa never sing any other than a continuous tour of yarabys, or Peruvian songs, which are the most monotonous and dismal in the world. The tone is lamentable, and they always turn upon a tour of disappointed love, and lovers deploring their pains in deserts; but never treat of lively, agreeable, or even indifferent subjects.
After all, these gaucho pulperias in the pampa, miserable as they are, are not much inferior to some of the inns, as they are called, in Spain herself. It is very true, that in the larger post-towns improvements have been made of late years in the accommodations for travellers; but in other situations, where they are obliged to remain during perhaps the whole night after a long day trip, the buildings are literally nothing better than ventas, or low public-houses frequented by the poorest peasantry: they sometimes do not consist of two stories, or even of two rooms, but a separation is made by a curtain, the harbour of all kinds of filth and vermin.
At the pulperia near Buenos Aires they are frequently provided with a guitar, but the performaces upon it are the most wretched that can be imagined.
Picturesque Illustrations of Buenos Ayres and Monte Video: By Emeric Essex Vidal
For experiencing some sort of old gaucho pulperia bar try this: Day trip to the gaucho Town and Estancia