I wrote a post a couple of months ago about what you might expect to see at a typical asado, or barbecue, in Argentina. Admittedly, I hadn’t gone to too many asados during my two years in Buenos Aires, but in the last month I was invited to a few of them and really grew to love them. Though they hadn’t been a staple for me, I could easily see how just a few more of them and I would have placed them highly up on the list of things that I will always miss about that country. Now that I’m back home and I’ve been to a couple of barbecues with some friends and family, I can see how our cook outs are similar and different from those in Argentina.
Even though it’s not exactly a written rule, there seems to be some form of sexism involved in both barbecues. It’s not overt, but everyone kind of knows their role. The men will be in control of the grill and the meat, while the women are more likely to help out by preparing some kind of salad or side dish. You can feel free to write in with whatever comments and suggestions you might have from your barbecue, but this is just what I’ve seen in mine and my friends’.
The meat is always the main event, but in Argentina, the meat is on a different level. Don’t even think of seeing a hot dog or hamburger on the grill, but you will find cuts of meat that you didn’t even know existed. If you’re instinct is telling you not to eat the suspicious meat, just close your eyes and swallow. You will probably not be let down. Back here in the States, expect to see a plentiful supply of hot dogs and/or hamburgers, chicken, steak tips, corn on the cobb, and such common side dishes as potato salad and pasta salad, among others.
An Argentinian asado wouldn’t be complete without an ample supply of red wine, or possibly Fernet or some beer. A barbecue in the United States will have enough beer to go around for the neighbors and maybe even some hard alcohol for those who are watching their figure. What do you do during the barbecue? In Argentina, the men crowd around the grill and discuss the meat, soccer, or something equally important. Our patience is a bit harder to maintain up north, however, and so while we wait for the food we’ll play a number of backyard games like Polish Horseshoes, Ladderball, Ring Toss, etc. It’s fun, but these games can often drag on much longer after the thrill they started out with.
So who has the better barbecue, Argentina or the U.S.? This is a really hard call, and I might have to just call a wash on it. I will say that Argentina by far has the best meat, but then again, you can’t beat a good old fashioned hot dog or cheeseburger right off the grill. (Note: Not the hot dogs sold in Argentina, which are terrible, but the good kind sold in the U.S.). At both parties you’ll most likely find good people, happy conversation and wind up feeling overfed and ready to pass out in a food coma. Hey, it could be worse.