Guatemalan Fair: The Charcoal-broiled Meat Booth

Charcoal-broiled meat stand

The charcoal-grilled meat stall has gotten so hip that you now find it not only in fairs, but around La Antigua Guatemala in parks, markets and sidewalks. Back in February 20th, 2007, I showed you an extremely popular stall of grilled meats in Tanque de la Unión park from a bird’s eye point of view. In the picture above, chicken and beef steak were being offered along broiled potatoes. Q10 ($1.25) for a portion of the meat of your choice, chirmol (read the link’s side note), guacamol and potatoes; definitely, not too bad of a deal.

The Barbecuing Side Note: Legend has it that when Columbus first touched American lands in the Caribbean, he was greeted with a banquet of char-broiled meats, as he and his crew were starving. Mister Christopher Columbus, Cristobal Colón as he’s known in Spanish, loved the flavor of the meats, the style of cooking and the sauces the meats were served with; quite possible a type of chirmol (chili mole). Not being to shy, he asked of his guest to name the sauce and the ingredients, but since he was not very fluent in the languages spoken by the indigenous (this was first contact, after all), there was a miscommunication problem and the friendly tribe people believed he was asking how they cook the meat, so they told him in good faith that the process was call barbacoa (barbecue); they even pronounced it by syllabus bar-ba-coa is the open-fire or charcoal way of cooking meats. So mister totally-confused-Italian-Spanish-captain-in-the-wrong-continent wrote it his travel blog (well, maybe just a captain’s log) as barbacoa is the sauce which these Indians (from India) used to accompanied their meats. He had heard the Indians used heavily-spiced sauces with their meals (curries they call them); so he was sure he had landed in India. From this encounter two confusions arose, which are still used today: the aborigine peoples of the American continent were called “Indians” and the rich sauce for the meats is called “barbecue”. (Source: as heard in one of KPFK radio programs many years ago)

© 2007 – 2013, Rudy Girón. All rights reserved.

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  • He was looking for gold and found BBQ. Well, I guess he did find “gold.” Columbus was not the brightest fellow. Sort of like some Texan we all know. So it doesn’t surprise me that he thought that he landed in the West Indies because the Indians were eating some “spicy meat.” Probably some down-home pork ribs, no doubt! Rudy, please tell me that old Chris didn’t take all the credit for BBQ, too! 🙂

  • A great shot. as if the photographer simply is not there. She is concentrating hard…

    Planet Earth Daily Photo.

  • columbus may have not found the place he was searching for but can you wonder how relieved he was to find land. one of you writers has imlpyed he was not very smart but he certainly was smart enough to go around the world to unknown lands in a boat that most of us would be afraid to go out on a creek in.

  • hmmm…my fav stall by far!

  • Vero

    ¡Carne asada con chirmol, tortillas, y cebollines! ¡Qué rico! Pero la carne asada y la carne adobada del mercado de San Lucas es riquísima, acompañada por una orchata.

  • ColtraneLives, well he found a way of cooking meat over an open-fire made from natural charcoal bricks which the indigenous people called barbacoa. He took the recipes for the sauce they use marinade the meat and mistakenly called barbacoa (bbq). I don’t think he was a fool, he was simply ignorant, as the rest of Europe, about this unknown continent which should’ve named after him as Colombia. Imagine that, The United States of Colombia and its citizen would call themselves Colombians; wow possibilities.

    Patsy, it is to judge the past from our present perspective. I am sure his ship was the most advance technology at the time, so he felt as safe as you do now when you boar a huge cruiser.

    Lessie, meat lover, hah?

    Vero, San Lucas is over-rated since it is a good if not better around La Antigua Guatemala. Pero ya se me antojaron las carne adobada con chirmol y cebollines.

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