An Asado is simply a barbeque, though in Argentina it is a huge part of the culture. It is their Sunday lunch; Christmas, Easter, Birthdays are all, generally, accompanied by an Asado – in fact any event that isn’t is probably not much of an event. And the Asado is not just reserved for hot days, many people have large fireplaces or barbeques with a roof which they can cook in even if the weather goes sour.
The Argentine Asado comes in a variety of forms, from the standard grill to the very rustic with a bamboo cane, to the dramatic looking ‘a la cruz’ on the cross. Across the country people debate endlessly over the best ways to barbeque – even to such fine points like which tree provides the best wood to cook over. However, most people are in agreement that the rest of world has no idea how to cook meat over a fire and there are all sorts of differences between the Argentine Asado and the European or western barbeque.
For example, they never hang meat here. Argentines consider the shorter the time between dispatching the animal and putting it on the barbeque the better. Then almost all their cuts of meat are different. This is because they always cut along the grain of the meat. Most famously they cut the ribs across the bones rather than between them.
Finally, perhaps the biggest, and to many the most shocking, difference is that all Gauchos and the vast majority of Argentines like their meat very well done. They are horrified to see Europeans eating what they consider raw meat. It is a common complaint of many visitors to Argentina, though I have found it best to let Argentines cook meat as they wish as the result almost always melts in your mouth. After all, they have had an endless supply of prime meat and several hundred years to perfect their system. Asking them to change feels like walking into a restaurant in Tokyo and asking them if they could warm this fish up a bit.