Parrillada: A Traditions Map of South America

parrillada (asado)

The end of the year is approaching and, with it, the preparations for the holidays. So, for all meat lovers who want to explore a different kind of dinner this year, a good South American asado and parrillada wins by a landslide. 

here we will take a tour through the barbecues of argentina, uruguay and brazil. here, the best of the best of south american barbecues.

As the clock ticks towards midnight, the union of New Year’s Eve and a parrillada make the perfect pairing in the traditions map of South America. The parrilla latina, a communal gathering around the grill that happens at every get-together between friends and relatives, symbolizes the joy of shared moments and delicious food.

It is, therefore, the greatest symbol of South American food and culture, and all its diners pay tribute to it year after year (not to say Sunday after Sunday). Thus, the cuisine in South America offers the world not only excellent meat, but also one of the most delicious and convivial ways to meet. 

Between the tinkling of beer choppers and wine glasses, between chorizo sandwiches that come and go, between forkfuls of potato and egg salad, the festive atmosphere and the conversations get lively to welcome a new year in good company and with happy bellies. 

In the heart of South America, there’s no denying that parrillada argentina (the one and only Argentine asado) takes center stage (and yes, this is written by a proud Argentinean but sure of her globally endorsed data). Basically, the asado argentino is not just a meal, it’s a tradition (furthermore, it’s a ritual) deeply ingrained in the culture. 

It goes like this: the fire is lit, and while the Argentine steak is under fire, the evening begins with the unique and incomparable choripan. The classic chorizo sandwich opens the night and the appetite, being the best opening act for the most coveted meat in the world. 

The conversations, the laughter and the reunions revolve around the embers and these delicacies that, each one in its own time, are arriving to our plates. In other words, it is not a true Argentinean festivity if there is no asado on the menu.

Regarding the pairing, although there are several options, the one that cannot be missing on a Christmas table is the mashed potato and egg salad. No more, no less. Happiness lies in the little things. 

Moving east to Brazil, the Churrasco steak, a carnivore’s delight sizzling on every Brazilian grill, is the one drawing all the attention. However, in Brazil, churrasco includes beef, pork and chicken, and is usually accompanied by pieces of chorizo criollo

But whatever path you choose, for a perfect Brazilian churrasco the key lies on the marinade. While recipes may vary, a typical Brazilian steak marinade includes garlic, lime, cilantro, and a touch of cumin. Well executed, it will (almost) make you feel as if you were in the very streets of Rio. 

The famous parrilladas uruguayas are also one of the most popular meals on the other side of the Rio de la Plata. Unlike its neighbors, the asado uruguayo is cooked with wood embers and not with charcoal.

The Uruguayan approach is minimal seasoning, allowing the quality of the meat to speak for itself. This parrillada often features a mix of meats, from beef and lamb to sausages and offal. The key is the slow and patient grilling over an open flame, creating a delicious crust while maintaining a juicy interior.

In Uruguay, the parrilla is a symbol of connection, where bonds are strengthened and memories are made. And so, the transversal core of any Latin American asado: it’s not just about the food, it’s about sharing moments, stories and laughter around the grill.

Such is the hegemony of the parilladas in South America as gastronomic traditions that make up the very culture of its people, that the internal dispute among Latin Americans about which meat and which asado is better was, is and will remain unanswered, but legendary nonetheless. 

The important thing is that the asado itself is not only the heart of South American culture, but a way of experiencing food like no other. Even though, and precisely because of its popularity, there are already many restaurants that offer individual parrilladas, their true essence lies in full barbecues and sharing with loved ones. 

That’s why there is no better option to spend the holiday season, to end one year and start another, than with a delicious parrillada and a hearty get-together.



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