Thursday, 28 October 2004

Argentina & Oz

After eating yet another great piece of grilled meat last night, I have been comparing the Argentines to another people known for their skills in cooking meat over an open fire, the Australians. To fully understand the similarities and differences, you have to go back to the colonisation of the two countries by the Spanish and the English respectively.

When the Spanish first settled Argentina and the English Australia, they were under similar circumstances. Both had this big empty territory, very sparsely populated, with wonderful natural resources. The indigenous tribes were significantly less technologically advanced, could be abused and their needs ignored. Now, the colonisation method of both countries was slightly different.

The Spanish way. The Spanish basically told their people that there was this huge territory that belonged to the crown, where they could claim whatever land they were able to cultivate. This was a godsend for the second sons of rich Spanish families, who would not have inherited much but now had this opportunity to go to this strange and faraway place and make a name for themselves out there. So they did.

The English way. The English had a prison problem when they discovered Australia and thought that this big empty territory full of strange creature and people would be the ideal prison. The offenders would have no way to escape and would no longer be part of the British society, being half a world away. So they sent all their convicts to a huge, empty, sunny island, with guards, while the "decent" people stayed on the rainy overcrowded British Isles.

Interestingly enough, in terms of food and drink, cultures in both countries evolved to become quite similar and both countries now produce very nice wine and beer and the best gilled meat on the planet, in the form of parrilla and asado in Argentina and barbecue in Australia. However, the way they go about it differs slightly.

The Argentinean way. The parrilla or asado has to be done the right way so that the meat is cooked just right. In the case of the asado, it can involve a whole cow on a spit over an open fire. Ideally, you would drink a fine Mendoza wine with your meal. Argentines are quite fashion aware so they will be dressed accordingly. After the meal, you go out for a few drinks before going dancing. Some tango will usually be involved at some point.

The Australian way. You bring the barbecue to the beach, with adequate supply of beer. Of course you're in your shorts and flip flops because you're on the beach. You slap some pieces of meat on the barbecue, eat lots and drink lots of beer. Afterwards, you drink more beer.

Having gone this far, I tried to find names of famous people from both countries. So, here are the first 3 off the top of my head. Famous Argentines: Diego Maradona, Jorge Luis Borges, Ernesto "Che" Guevara. Famous Australians: Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Lleyton Hewitt.

I think we can conclude that Argentines are like Australians, except that they've got class.

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