When I started looking for uruguayan food, asado immediately struck me. As you can probably see from the photo above, asado is a beef dish. The asado meat is cooked in a special wood burning oven called a parrillero. The burning wood and subsequent embers create a unique and delicious flavor. No seasoning besides salt, which is applied part way through the cooking process, is added to the meat. Asado is often cooked along with chorizos which are meat sausages. It is served with chimichurri, a special sauce made of oil, oregano, salt, garlic, and bell pepper.
Asado is an excuse for a gathering. The cook will invite friends and family to come and enjoy the fruit of his or her labor. The cooking of asado is a process, so friends will gather around the parrillero with the chef and socialize. Asado is often compared to the American barbeque and they booth serve as a social activity where the men are considered the primary cooks.
Asado is a dish common throughout the southern cone of South America. This is because of the shared history of the gauchos and the pampas. the pampas is the grasslands that are common in uruguay and are perfect for cattle grazing. The gauchos were the men that worked with the cattle and were often away from home and out on the pampas for long periods of time. This is how the tradition of asado was born; Gauchos didn't have any means of preserving meat out on the pampas, so they would cook the butcher the steer and immediately cook it on an open wood fire. This tradition is still very active and part of the Uruguay culture today.