Argentina in 2 words: Maté and Parilla

Just a quick explanation of what these two things are. Mate is a hot drink well known in south america and is always argued which country actually started the obsession. A parilla or asado is a BBQ. Simple things done to an art form here in Argy.

Photo courtesy of: queretarocity.olx.com.mx/parrilla-argentina-iid-513967528

Photo courtesy of: queretarocity.olx.com.mx/parrilla-argentina-iid-513967528

 

Photo courtesy of: http: mateovermatter.com/daily-routine-yerba-mate/

Photo courtesy of: http: mateovermatter.com/daily-routine-yerba-mate/

Whilst travelling through Argentina, two things have been a constant in an ever changing scenery. These two constants seem to be a favourite pastime, no scratch that, an obsession with Argentinians wherever we go. Due to constantly seeing people either drinking mate or eating a parilla we have seen some pretty interesting situations where these have occurred, in which we would like to share, we only wish we were able to capture some of these with our camera. But this is the way with spontaneity, it always strikes when you don’t expect it.

So the art of mate drinking is not just a person drinking from a disposable takeaway coffee shop cup. Oh no. This would be far too simple. To drink mate whether you are on the go or not requires a wooden/metal/plastic (individual preference) drinking cup, a metal straw (which always burns my lips no matter how long I wait), a thermos of hot water and a  KG bag of yerba mate. So please bear this in mind when imagining these situations.

  • We first really took notice of people drinking mate constantly was upon our re-entry into Salta when we saw teenagers hanging out in the park passing around a cup of mate. Not smoking or slyly sharing a bottle of cider, but mate. Where else but Argentina, ay?
  • At a market we saw hordes of people carrying around the full mate set whilst browsing the stalls and having their cup topped up from their backpack
  • A women whilst driving. She was also talking on her phone at the same time. Thats real multi-tasking
  • Just walking around the streets on a hot day. As you do.
  • A teacher on a school trip with many, many students
  • German beer festival. Kind of counterintuitive, but each to their own.
  • Players of a local football match drinking in a break
  • Tango dancers drinking in between their dances

The parilla/asado/BBQ to us Brits is a rarity. We love a good barby but can only do it when we have the weather, and when we do have one we nip to the supermarket and pick up cheap burgers, sausages, plastic cheese and some limp salad and put it all on top of a disposable BBQ. If any Argentinian, or South American saw this they would probably give us a well deserved slap. Having a parilla is a way of life, normally done on a Sunday (like our Sunday Roast, I guess) families stock their open air grill with half a cow, the best bits of the pig and whole chickens (plucked of course.)

Now, I did say that most people have them only on a Sunday but we have managed to see them everwhere at all times. For example…

  • Our favourite: Workmen in Rosario laying tar on a new road, half of them were working, the other half were setting up their asado right next to the lovely smell of burning hot tar. Mmmm, can anyone say ´healthy fume inhaling lunch´? But atleast they don´t have to eat soggy sandwhiches.
  • workmen at a car wash starting up their smokey asado next to a nice clean pickup. Hmmm…?
  • in a late night garage with music blaring
  • public parks
  • national parks with built in half drum asados ready to be used
  • oh, and if your balcony or rooftop terrace doesnt have one built in then there is no point moving in (so I hear.)

If anyone else has seen other interesting asado-eating or mate-drinking situations, we would love to hear them. It has been a constant source of amusement wherever we have been trying to spot the weirdest occurance, and for me, I am not too sure which one I like the best.

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