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!

Getting Around Town: The Bus Edition

Not a lot of people in Montevideo own cars. The majority of people either walk or take the bus to get around town. This results in a couple of things:

1. There aren’t a whole lot of cars on the road. But beware, cars have the right-of-way here unless there is a stoplight or a crosswalk painted with white diagonals. This can be a pain in the butt at a busy street, but jay-walking is a common occurrence.

2. There are a whole lot of people on the bus. There are many stops (“paradas”) and many different routes that take people to all corners of the city and the suburbs. The buses don’t have air conditioning. It would be pointless with all the people and all the stops; the windows just stay open.

We all took our first trip on the bus yesterday to the frisbee fields in town. Luckily we had the help of a new-found ultimate frisbee friend who came to our house to get us. He showed us which bus to take and how to actually do it. We were all a little worried, as we had seen tons of buses but couldn’t figure out how one would actually pay to ride. The bus costs $19 pesos, about $1US, for each ride. You can purchase a more expensive 2 hour ticket if you want, which allows you to ride as many different buses for that amount of time, but I think that’s still a bit advanced for us.

Our friend showed us where the nearest bus stop was to our house and which bus to take. In every bus there is a driver and a ticket seller. The ticket seller sits on one side of the bus and will take your money and give you a ticket in exchange. He will also give you change if you need it. After you have gotten your ticket you either find a seat (rare during peak hours), or you hoof it as far back as you can in the bus and try not to fall over.

We got to see a lot of the city during the hour long ride to the fields. Not all rides take this long, but the fields that the City of Montevideo has given the ultimate team to play on are in the suburbs. We are told that there’s not a shorter way to get to the fields unless you want to pay for a taxi. Ah well, sometimes time seems to have a different meaning here anyway.