Growing up in Los Angeles and spending the past decade in Texas, I had no escape from the tradition of the weekend carne asada. Although seemingly these weekly gatherings look like they’re about meat and beer (or, as I discovered in college, red wine if you’re from Argentina), I believe there’s really a lot more going on.
I think that, in this age where families are split up between states and divided among coasts, the carne asada represents a real value on family time. I remember going to these things when I was a kid, and there were dozens of kids playing while the comadre and padrinos caught up. I remember feeling happy knowing that my parents were laughing and telling stories with their friends. Meanwhile, the kids broke up into age groups, divided usually into the boys and the girls camps, and taunted each other, pretending we didn’t really want to play with each other anyway.
When I myself became a grown up, living far away from the rest of my family in a strange town, the carne asada invite was one way I was able to put down new roots and make new friends. One episode in particular sticks out in my mind, when I made the mistake of bringing Tecate to an all-Budweiser party. Nonetheless, I felt welcome and became myself one of the comadres laughing with my friends.
Even when I became a vegetarian, the carne asada was still relevant. Because, as I said, these gatherings aren’t really about the food, after all. They’re about remember who you are, where you come from and what kind of a community you want to build. Which isn’t to say that people don’t love to grill food and drink “adult beverages,” but rather, that sometimes the best way to someone’s heart really is through their stomach.
Follow Sara Inés Calderón on Twitter @SaraChicaD
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