Living in Mexico means we have learned a lot about (and become friends with people from) many different cultures. Yes, we had this at home, in Toronto, a multi-cultural city. But here it’s been ….. different. Why?
I suppose it is because so many of us left family and friends and our home country and came here. And bonded together because we had that major factor in common. When we missed our respective countries, friends, and family, we ate food that comforted us and told stories from home, all the while learning a lot about each other. Loving new people and new cultures, it’s such a gift.
Some of our dearest friends here, who have been here since even before we arrived, are from Argentina. A family of six moved here many years ago, learned English, and all the children are still here, some now married.
The first time we were invited to dinner to one of the son’s homes, our children were still very little. We arrived around “Canadian dinner time”, 6:30 or so. The wife had all her groceries in the kitchen. I soon realized she had not started any dinner. You see, I did not know at that point that in Argentinian culture, dinner is eaten very late. That isn’t so hard for us adults to adjust to, but a five year old and a seven year old don’t like waiting for dinner, especially when bed-time is usually at 8 p.m. I kindly asked the wife if the kids could have a snack while we waited and of course she obliged. From that point on, I got used to taking little snacks wherever we went, just in case I wasn’t aware of other customs and had hangry children on my hands. (A good mother would have been doing this already).
Now when they invite us to dinner, they cater to our ‘early dinner hours’ and we are usually eating by 8 p.m. They spoil us.
The Argentinian culture is also known for their ‘asado’, or barbecue. But this isn’t just like any old Canadian barbecue. There may be more meat than you’ve ever seen. And they don’t bring it all at once. They cook a little at a time, and smaller offerings every 5 minutes or so I would say, so it’s always fresh and piping hot. It’s very hard for me to not eat everything off the first platter, but, I’ve come to learn what cuts I like best and now I’m pretty good at holding out.
Chimichurri is always found at one of these meals. I’ve also eaten it here with many an empanada. Have you had an Argentinian empanada as opposed to a Mexican one? Argentinian empanadas are baked. I like them better most days, I find them less greasy and more filled than their Mexican counterparts. When you order them in a restaurant, you’ll always have some chimichurri to go with them.
This sauce is very popular for a reason and there’s a million recipes out there for it, but this is how we like ours. You can adjust it however you please. Use it on meat, chicken, fish, shrimp, tacos, empanadas, vegetables, as a pizza base, in pasta …. I mean, the uses are endless. Make a batch and keep it in the fridge and you’ll see how many times a week you use it.
And since the Argentinians invented it, it probably tasted even better after 9 p.m.
*These measurements are very flexible. If you want more oil, add it; more heat, add it.
- 1 head garlic, cloves peeled
- 1 1/2 bunches parsley, thick stems removed
- 1 bunch cilantro, thick stems removed
- 1 1/4 cups olive oil
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- pinch of salt
- pinch of oregano
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- couple shakes of hot sauce
Put garlic cloves, parsley, and cilantro in a food processor and process until fairly fine. Transfer to a bowl. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Adjust seasoning as desired.