Uruguay – BBQ beef heaven

Jan 19th
Posted by shambo  as Culture, Food, Religion, Travel


Let me say this about that.

Most of my friends know that I’ve been around a bit¬†¬†and thoroughly enjoy international travel – in particular to exotic destinations.¬†¬†So an¬†old buddy¬†called the other day and asked if I might be interested in a trip to the Galapagos Islands.

Now, I know for those of you living in West Virginia, geography is a field of study reserved for¬†college level, so I will explain a little about the Galapagos.¬† The Galapagos Islands lie in the Pacific ocean¬†about 500 miles west of Ecuador.¬† The islands are famous for their near total isolation, the unique wildlife, and as the inspiration for Charles Darwin’s theories of evolution. It’s this last bit that makes the islands somewhat controversial.

Darwin theorized that all animals (including humans)¬†evolved from earlier forms, in part, to adapt to their local environment. Organized religions have taken issue with this theory as total nonsense – as they cannot fathom evolution competing with their theories that feature such scientific elements as…¬†¬†¬† rising from the dead, walking on water, fornicating with 72 virgins upon the murder of anyone that does not agree with¬†their views, or denoting anal sex with 10 year old boys by church elders as simply “following-too-close-behind”, an event more deserving of traffic court than a hangman’s noose.

But, I digress.

Uruguay-world record BBQ

I told my buddy “no thanks”¬†to the trip to the Galapagos because I was planning a return trip to Punta del Este, Uruguay.¬† Why?¬† Well there are many reasons, but the main one was for the Bar-B-Que ! No one does BBQ like the Uruguayans.¬† BBQ …¬†and meat …¬†are national obsessions in Uruguay.¬† The most hardened Texas BBQ cooks are pussy-boyz compared even the most casual BBQ chef in Uruguay.

You’ll never guess who holds the Guinness Book-of-World-Records¬†distinction¬†for the largest BBQ ever held. Texas? NO. North Carolina? NO.¬† Mexico? NO.¬† Uruguay? Hell yeah!¬† In 2008, the city of Montevideo¬†sponsored¬†the largest BBQ ever held when 1,250 cooks BBQ’d up 26,400 pounds of beef on a grill that measured over a mile long.¬†¬†The 20,000 people who showed up made it the biggest¬†meat-chomping, sauce-sucking, bone-flinging event in the history of carnivores.

To put it simply, I¬†am crazy about¬†BBQ.¬† Why, you may ask.¬† Well, it seems the older I get, the further I slip down “Maslov’s Hierarchy of Needs”. (note to West Virginians: look it up, I ain’t got all day).¬† Forget the achievement of “Self-Actualization” and the other intellectual¬†crap¬†at the top of Maslov’s Hierarchy.¬† Give me the stuff at the bottom, the basics of ‘man-needs’¬†…. good food – good drink – sex(good or bad), and a decent poop every now and then.¬† For old baby-boomers, this is the new ‘self-actualization’.¬† And for me and for¬†Uruguay, BBQ’ing beef is the ultimate expression of self-indulgent pleasure.¬†¬†¬†


BBQ – done the Uruguayan way – is called “parrillada”.¬† It’s called ‘parrillada’, well, because it’s cooked on a “parrilla”.¬† A ‘parrilla’ starts as a big-ass wood fire, over which is positioned a steel grate near the edge of the fire,¬†at about a 45 degree angle.¬†¬†Meat,¬†from every conceivable part of a cow, along with various other¬† animals, is then placed on the grate and the hot coals from the fire is raked beneath it to cook the meat.¬†

There’s something rather primeval about cooking dead animal parts¬†over an open fire that the citizens of Uruguay¬†seem to enjoy.¬† The sound of the sizzling meat,¬†the beef that was lazily roaming a pasture a few hours¬†before, now¬†emitting mouth-watering aromas, the flames and smoke rising over the grill as the¬†fat renders and drops down over the glowing coals. The whole show has a testosterone enabling quality that induces every man into making gutteral animal sounds.¬†

In Uruguay, most hooved animals learn to run very fast at an early age, as the Uruguayans have an expression¬†for ‘slow animal’.¬† They¬†refer to¬†them as¬†….. “Lunch”.¬†


Lunch - for 2

Ordering your parrillada¬†BBQ is easy.¬† Just walk up to the guy cooking on the parrilla¬†and point toward the meat.¬† Exactly what you get seems to be a decision for the cook – as is how well¬†it’s cooked – as is how it’s seasoned.¬† This may sound kind of risky, but it usually turns out OK.¬† Lunch for me and Mrs Shambo turned out to be a large pan filled with over four pounds of beef steak, ribs, lamb, blood sausage, and all manner of meat cuts not normally seen by Americans¬†unless they are¬†employed by a¬†forensics lab.

Vegetables are rarely ever harmed in Uruguay.¬† Our BBQ lunch was accompanied by a single red pepper – one freakin’ pepper !!¬† But hey, who has time or space for veggies when there is BBQ to consume?¬†

I found my stride when I ripped off a piece of bread that¬†had been¬†baked to crispy goodness on the open pit fire, smeared it with a giant dollop of blood sausage, scarfed it down like I was on ‘death row’ and chased it with a cold draft beer that Bavarians would envy.¬† This display was followed by, what I call, the “beef rib polishing ceremony”.¬† If you can’t see your reflection in the rib you have just finished eating, you have some more gnawing to do.


Protein diet ain't all bad

Interestingly, I saw very few fat people in Uruguay, even with this national obsession with BBQ.  Oh sure, there seemed to be plenty of big asses, but they were all on the women Рwhere they belong.

So, I wished my buddy a pleasant trip to the Galapagos Islands, where he will undoubtedly take copious photographs of the ocean iguanas and¬†pet a few of the giant 100 year-old tortoises.¬†¬†I suspect he will get ample opportunity to¬†listen to¬†some tree-hugging GreenPeace geek drone on about the fragility of nature and the spiritual penalty for even¬†the swatting of a mosquito.¬† He will undoubtedly get lectures on Darwin’s theories that are white-washed enough to avoid pissing-off the devout in the group.¬† But, as I told him, if he really wants to have some fun, join me on my trip to Uruguay and I will show him a real sight ……….. “slow animals.”

And, that’s all I have to say about that.





One Comment

  1. Arthur Maynard  2nd January 2016  


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