Argentinean men have two passions in life: (soccer) and asado (barbecue). Not sodifferent from many American men, right? There are lots of men out there who like nothing better than to throw some meat on the grill and watch the game on TV. Guillermo and I mix and match, culturally speaking, as necessary-a little from his, a little from mine-until we get a nice comfortable blend. But barbecue is where he draws the line.
The first time he wanted to grill together, I thought, 'how different can Argentinean barbecue be?' I'm here to tell you-it's a whole other ballgame. For starters, Argentinean barbecue is wood-fired, not charcoal. Barbecue sauce is a cardinal sin, lighter fluid gets the boot. And the fare is different. Eggplant. Short ribs. Whole Chicken. Organ Meats. Steak that's two inches thick. Chorizo sausage. Thick slices of Provolone cheese, grilled until just soft enough to spread across pieces of crusty bread. And if you're in Argentina and in luck, you'll get the whole animal. No hot dogs of ambiguous origins, no skewers, and definitely no patties.
There are books about Argentinean barbecue-but they're more like academic tomes-no Bobby Flay, with his 125 ways to grill anything. Argentineans are traditionalists when it comes to barbecue-they stick with what works. And frankly, most Argentineans don't need a book-they learn from home-in their own backyard, where almost everyone has a brick oven barbecue built in the yard.
If you're in the US and reading this, this weekend is Memorial Day-a day that marks the start of summer and of grilling. If your plans include grilling, I urge you to try just a touch of Argentinean-style barbecue. I'm sure that this is just the beginning of the posts I'll do over the summer about this, but please write in and tell me if you have ideas about a recipe you'd like to see and I'll try to write accordingly. Enjoy the long weekend-and if you're grilling, throw an eggplant on the grill!
Receta para Berenjena Asada
Recipe for Grilled Eggplant
2 eggplants, washed and cut into 1/2 inch thick rounds
crushed red pepper
Put the eggplant rounds in a roasting pan and sprinkle abundantly with salt. Let them 'sweat', and then drain them. Drizzle generously with olive oil, and sprinkle with oregano and crushed red pepper. Place on the grill, over indirect heat, until soft in the center-they will appear juicy and have grill marks.