Henry Watson is a student at Gonzaga University and an ISA Featured Blogger. He is currently studying abroad with ISA in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Before I begin to tell you about my experience of working at an Argentine parilla, there is a backstory you must hear first.
Eight years ago, my older brother, Clarke, studied in Buenos Aires. Hearing his stories about his time here were one of the many reasons why I decided to study here. Argentina is home to some of the best beef in the world. I knew beef was a big part of the culture here, but never could have anticipated it to be anything like it is. If you could have a nickel for every parrilla in Buenos Aires, you would be a very wealthy man. But like any cuisine, it can be difficult to find the best places to eat.
One day, a long time ago, my brother and some friends got lost in downtown Buenos Aires. Trying to navigate their way home through the crowded streets of Buenos Aires, they found a restaurant that would make its way into the hearts of many. Its name? Wild Ranch. Yes, I know you’re thinking the name may sound a little “gringo,” but trust me, it is far from that. Wild Ranch is a go-to eatery for porteños across the city. It’s a place where lawyers, construction workers, and businessmen sit side by side to enjoy a great steak. The restaurant itself seats around 15 people, but during any part of the day, you will find people standing shoulder to shoulder waiting for their turn.
What started as a one-time pit-stop while my brother and his friends were lost turned into a popular hang-out they would visit several times a week. Soon the students and porteños became friends. Talking to my brother about his abroad experience, he told me about all the great memories and relationships he made at Wild Ranch. When I arrived to the restaurant with a picture of my brother, I was welcomed with open arms. Many of the same men that were regulars in the restaurant eight years ago told me stories of my brother.
Each time I visited Wild Ranch, I would bring friends with me. The locals were so friendly that Wild Ranch soon became our go-to hang out. After several weeks of creating new friendships, Guillermo, the owner of the parilla offered to teach my roommate, Zach and I how to cook an authentic asado. Once a week, Zach and I would work at Wild Ranch trading dish washing and cooking lessons for an opportunity to practice our Spanish. Each week, we would learn how to make new dishes, and little by little learned the art of the Argentine asado.
This story came full circle when my family came to visit me for Thanksgiving. To celebrate Clarke’s “homecoming,” Guillermo invited our family to an asado in his home. I will never forget the celebration of Thanksgiving that day. The love and friendship between old and new friends is what giving thanks is all about.
The world awaits…discover it.