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 – 2020, Rudy Giron. All rights reserved.

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