A barbecue has that wonderful ability to bring us together. When you let your mind wander back to the warmer days of summer, you’ll no doubt see family and friends gathered together in someone’s backyard to enjoy the fruits, or rather, snags, sausages, veggies and chops of the sizzling barbecue.
In Australia, barbecuing involves the art of mastering tongs in one hand and beverage in the other whilst commentating on a sport of choice, but the interpretation of this great culinary tradition can take on many other forms around the world, especially in North and South America. Let us take a tour…
The Classic Texan BBQ
The ‘heat and meat’ tradition of BBQ is a passionate subculture in the USA, and truly, there is not anywhere better than Texas to get your grill and thrill. Leading the way as the most obsessed over, and award winning, is Franklin Barbecue in Austin, where hungry punters start lining up from dawn for the chance to dine on their brisket, which has sold out every single day since it opened.
For a more unique experience, Snow’s BBQ situated in Lexington is open “from 8:00 AM ‘til sold out!” only on Saturdays. The pork ribs and brisket are the must have, with all meats lovingly prepared and cooked the old fashioned way by 83 year old Tootsie, who is the eldest, and one of the only female, pitmaster in the USA.
Barbacoa in Mexico
In Mexico, the way a barbacoa is prepared, and the meat involved, varies tremendously from region to region. Traditionally meat such as lamb, beef, pork or goat, is wrapped in agave leaves, placed in a pot with other offal, and cooked overnight in an underground oven. The resulting meat is tender, falls off the bone, and is served with warm tortillas and salsa.
As barbacoa is a special treat, rather than an everyday food, your best chance for traditional barbacoa is at the markets, with the Candiani Market in Oaxaca having a few vendors worth visiting. Barbacoa Renatos in Mexico City has been run by the Álvarez family for nearly 60 years and offers the opportunity to try all different kinds of barbacoa without having to leave the city.
An Argentina Asado
Argentinian food has been gaining popularity for many years since the humble empanada first tantalised our tastebuds. Asado is synonymous with life in Argentina, where various sausages and meats, including their famous steaks, are cooked over the smouldering coals of an open fire on a parrilla grill, and served with a healthy serving of chimichurri. The best way to experience a proper asado is to meet some locals and talk your way into being invited to one! Failing that, in Buenos Aires you are spoilt for choice with many excellent asado restaurants, which are called parillas. Don Julio is a centrally located restaurant with barbecued meats so tender, its immense popularity and subsequent wait for a table are justified. Wherever you decide to try some asado, we advise you to bring your appetite as the meal can often last several hours, with around 500g of meat per person being consumed, and the malbec required to wash it all down with.
The Peruvian Pachamanca
With Peru becoming an increasingly desirable country for visitors, a must dine experience is pachamanca – an Andean culinary tradition that dates back to the ancient Incans. Pachamanca involves the use of hot stones to cook a combination of meats including, for the adventurous, alpaca and guinea pig, within a pot deep in the earth.
Immerse yourself completely in the traditional pachamanca experience at El Albergue in Ollantaytambo where you can dine on freshly cooked meats and vegetables from their organic farm overlooking the other worldly Sacred Valley of the Incas. For those who prefer the coast to the mountains, Chef Ricardo Guitierrez of La Casita de Ricardo in Lima cooks his wares in custom-made ovens as opposed to in the ground, and is consistently voted the best Pachamanca in Peru. Taking a different take on an ancient tradition has never been so delicious.
If your appetite has been whet for a culinary discovery of the Americas, talk to your Travel Associates adviser to craft a delicious holiday now.