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Gaucho Culture
Gaucho Culture
Gauchos, the wanderers of the Pampas, have been a part of the South American landscape since the 1600s. Gauchos belonged to the countryside. They knew the land, the animals, the life and the customs of the natives, but their life was a constant struggle to survive. The flatland pampas of South America were full of the cimarron cattle, brought here in 1538, and cow leather was one of most traded goods between the Old World and the colonies. By 1715, Europe's heavy demand for leather has taken a toll on cimarron cattle, and the government took action against the gauchos. The actual concern was not the gauchos themselves, but the economic consequences of their way of life which might put at risk the price of highly valued leather.

While Europe wanted leather, the beef was of interest only to the gauchos. It was the staple of their diet. The meat was cooked in an open fire, a manner which was considered uncivilized and unhealthy and which contributed to their already low image. Eventually, grilling meat the gaucho way, in an open fire, became a national pastime: cooking asado. The word "gaucho" was first used in 1790 to describe a very rough person, with heavy manners, who traveled alone or with a woman, with only a few hunting tools. The term was so derogatory that it wouldn't be used in public statements from the government, even when gauchos were part of the resistance movement against the domination of the Spanish Crown.