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carne asada

FOOD POLITICS - September 2018 Sybrand Veeger

The Holy Grill: A Poem For Carne Asada

Written by Sybrand Veeger

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The Holy Grill

The Kingdom of Meat stretches from the southern Amazonic jungle,

West to the arid Andean range,

And south, profoundly, to the Antarctic precipice –

Where the world ends in fire and ice.

   

The Carneal Kingdom honors the holy method of nourishment:

Grilling, “Asado”, in Argentine.

Politics and commerce are circumstantial here,

Even superfluous; rather,

Gastronomics and aesthetics are the spheres of influence, in Argentina – the land of “argentum”,

The land of silver, of the silver grill.

   

Argentina’s meat obsession, or fetishism,

Can be explained

(Across space and time):

Geographically and genealogically.

   

The genealogy, the roots, of the holy grill are emphatically Mediterranean.

A gastronomical instinct, with an aesthetic accent,

Landed in “Argentina” –

Sometime in the last four centuries –

Spaniards first, Italians second,

Brought their food and music,

To make Asado and Tango! –

A double aesthetic movement I like to call

Silver Mediterraneanism…

   

The geography of the asado has three dimensions:

The Pampean plains, proclaimed the cow’s Eden garden;

The Andean mounts, where the blood of Christ is preserved;

And the Patagonian desert, where only Mosaic strength survives.

These three geographical dimensions produced a method

Of potential perfection – the silver grilling.

   

Silver, or Argentine, grilling requires:

Utmost respect for the produce,

The mastering of fire making,

And a musical sensitivity to detect the symphony of crackle.

Respect, mastering, and music – ontologically fundamental to the silver meat griller.

   

To the Mediterranean genealogy and privileged geography I must add genuinely Argentine genes:

The aristocratic landowners of Buenos Aires and La Pampa;

And the neo-nomads, the Pampean-patagonic gauchos.

A curious combination of aristocratic grandiosity and gaucho simplicity made way for a unique carneal spirit (from the fusion of agriculture and nomadism):

“EL ASADO”.

   

“El Asado” is no less than a cultural institution,

Nay, a religious institution, upon reflection:

It happens normally on Sundays,

Friends and family gather for a gastro-spiritual

Shared experience.

Pious and ritualistic for most –

The revered idols are:

Chorizo, blood sausage, chinchulines, tira, vacío, molleja, and mayba bondiola:

These are pork, chicken and cow meat cuts,

A priori categories I must say,

That give substance to a socially undiscriminating food religion.

   

Asado mass lasts around eight hours,

Come at four, leave at twelve –

In between you talk, eat, talk, drink wine, eat, drink fernet, talk, talk, laugh, have dessert, drink, leave.

   

Asados punctuate friendly and family ties,

El Asado is religiously spiritual

And institutionally concrete,

Requiring technique, wine, love and meat –

No wonder conventional politics fail in Argentina:

The silver Kingdom is but ruled by food…