The asado is a traditional South American barbeque enjoyed by locals all over the continent. It's a staple in the Argentine household throughout the summer months, just as the barbeque is to the British. This guide from pampeano will tell you all about the asado, and encourage you to join in with the age-old tradition.
Asado originated in the 19th century with the gauchos of La Pampa; skilled horsemen who herded wild cattle across the plains of Argentina like the cowboys of the USA. The word asado is used to describe the occasion but also the meat itself; the gauchos would cook the asado - usually beef - using a metal frame, or asador, on an open fire. They would usually use the relatively smokeless wood of the quebracho tree; these days, ordinary charcoal is usually used. Asado, along with mate - a traditional Argentine caffeine drink - became the main diet of the gauchos.
Today, the asado has become a more social gathering, where people enjoy a variety of meats and salads cooked on a grill or an open fire. Meats usually include beef, pork, chicken, chorizo and morcilla (Spanish blood sausage).
The traditional order of the occasion is as follows: appetisers, followed by costillas or asado de tira (ribs). Then vacío (flank steak), matambre (a thin cut of beef from near the ribs), and chicken, goat or pork. The meats are not marinated, but seasoned with salt prior to cooking. Spiced sauces such as chimichurri and salsa criolla are served to dip. Spreads of salads are also present; mixed leaf salads, verdurajo (grilled potatoes, aubergine, corn and onion), ensalada rusa (a Russian salad of potatoes, carrots, pickles, onions and peas) as well as traditional breads. Fresh fruit is served as desert.
To accompany the meal, local beer, wine and soft drinks are usually served, as well as mate of course. You can prepare mate at home by steeping yerba mate leaves in hot water, and drinking it through a metal straw. Traditionally it is served in a hollow calabash - a type of gourd. South American wines - red and white - are often served at the asado. If you are hosting an asado, pampeano offer a selection of leather wine coolers, to channel authentic South American style at your very own asado.
The asado has many variations around South America; for example, in Chilé, a roast lamb is a very common dish. In Brazil, it is called churrasco, and is cooked faster than in an asado. In Mexico, they tend to marinate the meats before cooking. In Paraguay, sometimes an oven is used. Even within cultures, much like barbeques, each family has their own distinct spin on the tradition, and their own family recipes.
As with the western barbeque, it is common to bring along gifts of wine, homemade salads and desserts. To bring along these gifts, consider pampeano's luxury leather range of tote bags. The pampa diamond design on the bag originates in Argentina, representing the Andes mountain range which overlooks the plains of La Pampa. The bag is available as part of a gift package with a stylish matching purse.
However, if you are hosting your very own Asado this summer, our smart buffalo hide leather wine coolers hold a single bottle of wine on your dining table and is available in either tan or Havana brown leather, the perfect addition to your event.
The asado is popular throughout most South American households. This can mean that the dress code varies from event to event, but usually it is fairly casual. When attending an asado, we recommend accessorising with one of our iconic polo belts, celebrating the Argentine heritage of the traditional event. For an elegant evening asado, we suggest the Astro - named for the stars that you'll be dining under. This genuine luxury leather belt looks great with a pair of chinos, cargo shorts or jeans. Our polo belts can also be used to accessorise a summer dress or cardigan.
If you wish to hold your own asado, pampeano suggests that you do your research, and find some genuine Argentine recipes. There are plenty online, written by locals to Argentina who have been dining on asado their whole lives. If you are attending an asado in the near future, the most important part is to enjoy yourself; revel in the good food, good company and history of the traditional event.