An Asado and Fireworks on a Birthday Cake

The easiest way to sum up the night of the Asado: rain, alcohol, darts, slippery floor, firework candle, grilled meat, fun time!

When we meet people and they find out we are vacationing in Uruguay, there is always a list of items they ask if we have done yet. Depending on the person, it might be culture related, nature related, clubbing related, or something based on there interested. In general though, there are 2-3 things that always come up no matter what the person likes to do.

The three main things that people ask us if we’ve done yet are:

  1. Tried maté
  2. Eaten a chivito
  3. Had an asado
We have tried maté. We even bought everything to enjoy maté. We also bought ceramic maté’s to drink tea out of.

We LOVE Chivitos!

When we ask people about asados, they say it’s a very fun thing to do and it’s important we go to one. That sounds great to me!

Then, I ask what it is. I always get a similar response about cooking meat on a grill, having a get-together, and drinking beer.

My response is: “So, it sounds like grilling out at a barbecue? I like those. Count me in.” …But, it’s not like what I’m used to. When I describe an afternoon barbecue, they all say it’s way more important and extensive. It’s a special way of cooking, a celebration of something, and a get-together.

So an asado isn’t like grilling steaks on a grill at the house… After attending an Asado, here are the main differences I noticed:

  1. The meat is cooked over the coals of wood and not directly over the fire. Nicer Parrillas (grills) have a separate section to burn the wood
  2. You can raise and lower the meat as needed (raise to add and move coals around and lower to cook directly above the coals)
  3. It’s meant for get-togethers of people and not just grilling out with a friend.
  4. There is a large variety of meat. Different cuts of meat from sausage, steak, ribs, and other cuts that I didn’t know what they were, but tasted great.

I was invited to an Asado when I was in Buenos Aires, Argentina with the Ultimate Frisbee team that I was going to play with on Sunday.

The asado was a blast and more like a party. We had beer, wine, snacks, music playing, people sitting around talking, and darts. We played five person darts where everyone throws with their off-hand to get their number, then needs to hit their number three times to get three points before they can be a killer. If you’re a killer, every number you hit takes a point off of their score. If you hit your own number, you remove a point from your score. When you reach a negative number, you’re out of the game. When you are under 3 points, every number you hit adds a point to the score. The goal is to eliminate the other players.

Buenos Aires Asado with Darts

It was fun since it was raining so when it wasn’t my turn, I would be hiding under cover, but when it was my turn, I’d run outside, throw the darts and try not to slip and fall with the darts in my hand, and then throw the darts. A couple of times, people almost fell, which added a couple seconds of excitement to the situation.

The Asado grill (Parrilla) and meat

There is a special part of the grill that is only used to burn the wood. The coals fall down and you carefully spread them under the meat.

Here’s a picture of Maxi working with the wood on the left, while the meat cooks over the coals on the right.

Maxi creating some coals to cook on

The cooking lasted for about 2-3 hours while wood was continuously burning to create coals and meat was slowly cooking. Maxi would lower the meat as much as possible on the coals, then raise it when more coal was ready to put under the meat.

Maxi and the Asado Parilla

Iron Chef Maxi says, "Let's eat!"

Once there were enough coals and the first batch of meat was ready, everyone stopped playing darts and sat down around tables while Maxi brought food out in batches, letting some of the meat cook a little longer.

Maxi would grab a bite to eat, run out to move stuff around, and bring in the meat if it was ready.  Each piece of meat tasted really good. The ribs, chorizo sausage, steak, and some other cut of meat for asados were all good.

We all had a great time talking about different subjects, happenings, etc. Sometimes it’s hard for me to understand when everyone is talking very quickly, but in general, I could pick up conversation and occasionally contribute.

I was able to chat a good amount about American Football and the Falcons so that was fun.

Fernando’s Birthday!

Fernando’s birthday was also on the same day as the asado. It was perfect timing!

After we were finishing eating and almost too stuffed to eat more, Fernando brought out two desserts for his birthday. One with dulce de leche layer in a thin cake and cheese cake with strawberries.

A large candle was used in the center of the cheese cake with strawberries. I thought it was an abnormally large candle.  It wasn’t just a candle, in fact, once lit, it shot a stream of sparks straight up about a foot higher than the cake. What a surprise! I didn’t expect it at all.

Fernando's Birthday in Buenos Aires

Pre birthday candle ignition

Sparkler on cake in Buenos Aires

Birthday Candle on Steroids

The funniest part of the night happened right after the firework display started. I’m sitting to the right of the camera in the picture with the sparks shooting up. Fernando is sitting in the gray shirt with green sleeves.

He goes to blow the large candle out, as anyone would do with their cake, and the sparks started to come my way. Instead of everyone around me jumping back, 3-4 people jumped in front of me, like they were the secret service diving to take a bullet for the President,  to shield me from the sparks. It was extremely funny and made for some hilarious conversation for the next 30 minutes.

I hope there is a picture or video of it!

The asado was a really fun event despite the rain. I really appreciate being invited and having a great time with the group from Disco Sur. I also really enjoyed playing Ultimate Frisbee with them on Sunday in their league games in Argentina.

To Disco Sur, thanks for letting me play with you guys Sunday. It was a lot of fun.

To Maxi, thanks for my first asado and everything else!

To Fernando, thanks for not killing me on your birthday with fireworks and thanks for the great hospitality!

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Birthday Party!!

Carlos turned 22 and had a big celebration yesterday! Happy Birthday Buddy!

It is fairly common here to be able to rent out a space with some kind of kitchen facilities for parties or meetings. This is what the board gaming group does and what I assume Carlos’ family did last night.

We had our directions; the corner of Blvd. something Artigas and Colorado… Go past the fields and ask for Glorieta. So we walked down the street to catch the bus. We managed to get off a couple stops too early, but I guess that’s better than too late. We walked, we saw the fields, we saw a gate, we saw the guy in camo gear guarding the gate, and we kept walking. We got to the corner of Blvd. something Artigas and Colorado and knew we missed something. We called Carlos. He sent his brother Juanma and friend Ale to come and collect us.

Apparently we were suppose to stop at the gate and ask the camo guy about Glorieta. Turns out Glorieta is NOT a person. It’s the name of the little building where the party was. Go figure!

The party was great. I imagine there were about 40 people including friends and family. There were lots of snacks, along with beer and coke (both staples in Uruguayan dining). Some of the snacks we hadn’t seen before… Faína, which is a garbanzo flatbread that is sometimes placed atop pizza (called pizza al caballo). Maní, which are peanuts, but these had some kind of hard salty outer coating on them which reminded me of a corn nut.

When the majority of people arrived (probably around 10:30 pm) Carlos started the karaoke singing. It was very apparent that this might just be his favorite thing to do other than play ultimate, but unfortunately I haven’t gotten any good pictures of him doing either. I must say that karaoke in spanish was much more enjoyable in english, but that could have been the beer talking!

Matt and Juanma singing "We are the Champions" by Queen... Reminiscing about their recent win at a beach tournament in Monte Hermoso.

Juanma and some of the other frisbee boys enjoying themselves.

In the middle of karaoke there were hamburgers served. Then there were games. I guess the TV show “Minute to Win it” has gained some popularity here, so we played a variety of minute to win it games. These included: stacking bolts into a tower using a skewer, balancing a tower of 5 apples, bouncing a spoon into a cup, and moving  a cookie from your eye to your mouth without any hands. Asa and Matt both succeeded in making bolt towers and I dropped my cookie on the floor.

Asa and Carlos playing a "Minute to Win it" game.

Maru trying to out-balance her opponent in another "Minute to Win it" game.

We were taught (sort of) how to play Truco, an uruguayan card game. It uses a special deck of cards numbered 1-12 and may be one of the few fun purchases we make while we’re here. That is if we can actually figure out how to play.

We were just getting ready to leave when Carlos informed us that there was dessert. We sung happy birthday and ate delicious moosey cake with dulce de leche (sort of like caramel). Special thanks to Carlos and his family for organizing everything and creating a lovely evening for everyone.