Grilling the Gaucho way

Churrasco is not a cuisine or a technique of cooking meat, it is Gaucho way of life. Its origin can be traced to the Pampas region in the southernmost state of Brazil, the Rio Grande do Sul. The pampas are the worlds prime region for cattle rearing. The 17 the century Gauchos were brave and were mostly nomadic with no government, boundaries or laws to adhere. 

 The Gauchos who have roots in both indigenous and European heritage made their living as ranchers. The abundance of cattle in the Pampas region naturally led the Gauchos to engage in cattle trade with other populated and far off cities of Brazil. The trade involved long, and arduous horseback journeys and the meat was the most easily available food. And gauchos devised a way of roasting meat that made their trade journeys a lot more scrumptious.

The meat roasting process began with the digging of large pits on the ground, which is then filled with firewood collected by the Gauchos from around the area where they set up camp. The deep pits were necessary to protect the fire from the howling winds of the Pampas region.  The tenderest livestock was chosen from the cattle herd that the Gauchos are plying and the butchered meat will be marinated with simple ingredients like rock salt and will be mounted on large skewers to be slow-roasted on the fire pit.  The cooking process usually lasts several hours and results in the most succulent roast meat. The Gauchos use their belt knives or adaga to cut the meats off the skewers and relish it at the end of a hard day of travel. 

This communal method of cooking meat became an integral part of not just the life of ranchers but also among friends and families on the farm. Traditionally the men grilled the meats and the woman made the salads and accompaniments and the grand meal would then be shared with friends and families or pretty much the entire village! 

For the Gauchos, while celebrating large events, the measure of how the big the event was not in the number of guests who were invited but in the number of cattle roasted on the churrasco. As churrasco spread to other regions and communities of Brazil, it became synonymous with joy camaraderie and no celebration or family reunion big or small was complete without a Churrasco. 

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