In South America, any occasion is a good excuse to get together and eat meat - lots of it! Hosting a grilling extravaganza called an asado is a great way to spend time with family and friends. The tradition of slowing roasting many different cuts of meat over a fire comes from the cattle farming pampas of Argentina, Uruguay and Southern Brazil. If you are lucky enough to be invited to an authentic asado (also known as a parilla), try not to eat too much of the first course, because it will be followed by many, many more. A series of meats are presented, from sausages, to ribs, to steaks and even chitterlings (chinchulines) or intestines, as well as other cuts of beef. If you offer to help with the grill, you will be politely but firmly refused. The host (or asador) is territorial, standing alone at the grill for hours, wielding his gaucho knife, and serving one delicious roasted meat after another.
The asado begins in the early evening. The sausages and maybe some grilled provolone cheese are first off the grill, while everyone is still standing and drinking Malbec wine and beer. The ribs are next, and then the more serious cuts of meat, which are served with a simple salad and maybe some grilled corn. The meats are served with traditional sauces, such as garlicky green chimichurri sauce, or spicy salsa criolla. There is plenty of time to relax and digest between courses, as some of the roasts take a while to cook. As the sun goes down and the last courses are coming off the grill, everyone is full, content, and relaxed, with children asleep in their laps, talking and laughing late into the night. It's a tradition that brings everyone together to slow down and enjoy life.
So head to the butcher shop and invite your friends and family over for a long afternoon of grilling and relaxing, South American style.