Moving Box Bet – Argentina AND Uruguay!

7 Mar

If you are unfamiliar with our Moving Box Bet series, check out Justin’s first challenge from Peru, and his second challenge from Chile.

It took a long time for us to find a suitable food challenge for Justin in Argentina.  This mostly has to do with the fact that just about everything we’ve come across here is delicious!  Argentina has a lovely mix of Spanish and Italian heritage, and as a result you get some great pasta, pastries, and meat.  All of these we love, so you can see the dilemma.

In Argentina, people eat a lot of meat.  A lot.  Parillas (place that cook meat on a grill) are a dime-a-dozen, it’s an Atkins diet dream come true.

One thing we discovered in our quest to get better at reading menus is that people here eat every part of the cow.  Seriously.  Every part.

This diagram is missing a few key elements...

It is not uncommon to find sweetbreads or other organ meats on the menu.  Lonely Planet even lists ‘ubre’ (udder) in the food glossary, which mean you must be able to find that in at least a few establishments.  We had resigned ourselves to the fact that we would simply have to find a place that could grill up some good thymus gland and that would suffice for Justin’s challenge, despite the fact that it’s really not all that unusual.

That was before we met our couchsurf host.

We had the pleasure of staying with a fantastic family for most of our time in Buenos Aires, and we shared the concept of the Moving Box Bet with them in the hopes that they could point us towards a reputable place for Justin to complete the challenge.  Much to my delight, our host exclaimed that there were way more unique parts of the cow that could be cooked and eaten.  Parts that she in fact knew how to cook.  Parts like the brain.

Until this point I was totally unaware that you could waltz into a butcher and just ask for a brain, but apparently you can.  Our first few attempts at locating this precious item were unsuccessful and we had resigned ourselves once again to the thymus.  On our second to last night we were heading out to dinner with some friends of our host’s daughter and we happened to pass a butcher.  We popped in and low and behold, the man had not one, but TWO brains available for us to choose from! Jackpot!

The brain was frozen, which was ideal since we were on our way to dinner and didn’t have time to run back to the apartment before we were due to meet the rest of our party.  Our host’s daughter simply had them double bag it, and she casually popped it into her purse as if it was no big thing to be carrying a frozen brain on your way to a restaurant. I was giddy over the whole situation and kept bursting into laughter at the thought of the brain just chilling in her purse during dinner.

Tragically this was the ONLY NIGHT we have ever forgotten our camera in the last 4 months.  Go figure. I could not get over our luck at finding the thing, and our sheer stupidity for not having the camera to document the moment.

The next day, true to her word, our host expertly cooked the brain (just a tip, you have to soak it in vinegar for about 15 minutes, remove some sort of filmy outer membrane, and then you can boil it) and had it ready to go for dinner that night.  There is a long history of people eating brain in different parts of the world.  In Italy they used to chop it up and use it as filling for ravioli.  You can also slice it thinly, bread it, and fry it, like Milanese.  The possibilities are endless.  For the purpose of the challenge, I requested that it remain whole, you know, so Justin could see it for exactly what it was before he ate it.

We actually shared a lovely full meal with the family that evening, and brain wasn’t the only thing on the menu.  We had decided that since we’d only be in Uruguay for a short time, and since the menu is very similar, that Justin would eat TWO things that night and one of them would count for Uruguay.   If Lonely Planet can lump them together into one guidebook, then we can lump them together into one challenge. We decided on something you can find easily at every parilla in Argentina and Uruguay – morcilla, or blood sausage, to round out the evening.  In all, I consider it a spectacular success.


16 Responses to “Moving Box Bet – Argentina AND Uruguay!”

  1. phil March 7, 2012 at 10:31 am #

    Courageous Justin. when does Ashley do her Moving Box Bet?

    • Ashley March 7, 2012 at 10:34 am #

      Well, I did join in part of this one, BUT, I was the winner of the bet so I don’t really ever have to partake 😉

  2. Rock March 7, 2012 at 10:34 am #

    Love Justins’s comments – like egg whites, pate, olive tampenade. He is cultured!

    • Ashley March 7, 2012 at 11:10 am #

      Our host, who had a few slices of it herself, compares the texture to panna cotta…

  3. tl March 7, 2012 at 10:45 am #

    I have to say that the whole moving box challenge adds a nice twist to your otherwise amazing adventure.

    • Ashley March 7, 2012 at 11:11 am #

      Thanks! It never fails to amuse me…and even Justin seems to find it entertaining in retrospect of each challenge.

  4. Allison Centonze March 7, 2012 at 11:33 am #

    I find it funny that you recently posted about zombies and now you are eating brains….

    • Ashley March 7, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

      I totally love you for catching that!

  5. Amy Hume March 7, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

    These are so fun to watch. Have you guys watched Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern on the Travel Channel? I think you should send these to him when you’re all done.

    • Ashley March 7, 2012 at 8:22 pm #

      No, but I know what it is so perhaps we’ll try to find a way to watch it online. I can’t even imagine the collection of weird foods he’ll have eaten by the time this is all over!

  6. Marnie March 7, 2012 at 11:21 pm #

    As I watch the brain-munching video, I am kicking myself that I somehow lost track of your blog and haven’t been following you every minute of this adventure. But I’m back on track now and will catch up over time. What an amazing journey. Thanks for sharing all of it.
    P.S. I seriously could not bring myself to eat the things that Justin is eating, so you’ll never catch me making a bet like that. EVER. 🙂

    • Ashley March 12, 2012 at 11:46 am #

      Thanks for re-finding us 🙂 I have no idea what I would have done if I’d lost that bet!

  7. Carol Hodges March 8, 2012 at 11:29 am #

    I loved this episode because it reminded me that my Mom and Grandmother used to eat BRAIN SANDWICHES when i was young! …Rye bread and onions and brains…YUM. No, i did not join them, but I did like pickled pigs feet!!!!

    • Ashley March 12, 2012 at 11:50 am #

      You cannot imagine how much better this made Justin feel…I kept telling him that people totally have been eating brains forever 🙂

  8. Bryan March 14, 2012 at 8:54 pm #

    Awesome! Hope to be around for the Bolivia challenge!!!

    • Ashley March 16, 2012 at 9:04 am #

      Definitely! If you have any suggestions about Bolivia’s challenge, let me know because at this point we have no idea what he’ll eat…

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