Gerald Durrell is one of my favourite authors. The books tell of his adventures around the world collecting, capturing and nurturing animals first for other zoos and then for his own. His use of language to paint captivating scenes and amusing anecdotes is masterful and wherever I go in the world, I often recollect tales from his books about the region I’m visiting. I discovered his books as a teenager and am still re-reading them today. In 2010 I visited The Durrel Wildlife Conservation Trust on the island of Jersey. For an avid Durrell fan, this was a heady moment.
In October, I will be visiting Argentina. When I think Argentina, I think of two things. Evita and Asado. Evita is Eva Peron and she divides the nation. She’s both venerated and vilified. I just like her songs. Asado on the other hand, unites the nation. An asado is of course, a BBQ. In ‘The Whispering Land’, Gerald Durrell talks about his first ever asado in The Argentine: ‘To gulp a mouthful of soft, warm red wine and then to lean forward and slice a fragrant chip of meat from the brown, bubbling carcase in front of you, dunk it in a fierce sauce of vinegar, garlic and red pepper, and then stuff it, nut sweet and juicy, into your mouth, seemed like one of the most satisfying actions of my life.’ Sounds tasty doesn’t it? This passage has been playing on a repeat loop in the recesses of my mind for the past 30 years. The phrase ‘fierce sauce’ is so evocative
As part of the Visa Fest a few weeks ago, I took the opportunity to have my own asado with some nice juicy steaks, a simple salad, baked potato and my own version of a fierce sauce. In this case, I made Chimichurri, that ubiquitous green sauce used on grilled meat in not only Argentina but throughout wider South and Central America. There’s as many different versions of Chimichurri around as there are editions of Gerald Durrell novels so use this recipe as a base and feel free to add and subtract as your taste buds guide you. There’ll be no kissing right after you’ve eaten this tangy, garlicky sauce unless your partner eats it too.
- 1 x cup fresh parsley trimmed of thick stems
- 2 x tbsp fresh oregano
- 1 x tbsp fresh basil
- 1 x dried bay leaf, lightly crushed
- 4 x garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 -2 x green chillies, de-seeded and roughly chopped
- 1/2 x cup olive
- 2 – 3 x tbsp red wine or cider vinegar
- 1 x tsp salt
- 2 x tbsp water (+ extra to suit)
- Dissolve salt in vinegar and water
- Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until chopped and combined
- The ingredients should be chopped until small and fine but not until it is a puree
- Extra water (or olive oil) can be added to loosen it if you prefer a thinner sauce
- Place in a bowl and allow guests to spoon the sauce over meat and vegetables to suit their tastes
- I like my sauce tangy, garlicky and spicy so I added extra vinegar and garlic. The heat (or lack of heat) will depend on how hot the chillies are. If you don’t want it hot, don’t add them.
- Another popular addition is red onion or spring onions – add some if you have them.
- This is a fresh sauce but keeps well. I placed the remainder in a jar in the fridge and we have been using it over green vegetables during the week, on omelettes and with chicken and fish.
- Follow this link if you want to read about Chimichurri from someone who takes their sauce really seriously.
You can expect more references to Gerald, when I arrive in South America. I encourage you to seek out his books, available for a few dollars at most second hand book shops or, you can purchase a brand new copy as they have just been republished. They really are wonderful stories and adventures that have stood the test of time and reflect how forward thinking his approach to animal preservation was/is. Next weekend (14/15th July) is Durrell Day so why not click on the link and read about the great work the Trust is doing? Perhaps you would like to support their work. Adios muchachos!