I recently finished reading an excellent essay by New York Times columnist Pico Iyer entitled, “The Joy of Quiet”. The article details the ways in which our technological, plugged-in culture has started to lose touch with the simple joys of being alone and engaged in a quiet activity. Iyer touches on the problems associated with our modern-day attachment to devices: the constant staring at electronic screens when gathering with others, addictions to internet and social media, the yearning for costly “black out hotels” with no wi-fi signal to get a small respite from connectivity.
But the paragraph that struck me the most was:
“Maybe that’s why more and more people I know, even if they have no religious commitment, seem to be turning to yoga, or meditation, or tai chi; these aren’t New Age fads so much as ways to connect with what could be called the wisdom of old age. Two journalist friends of mine observe an ‘Internet sabbath’ every week, turning off their online connections from Friday night to Monday morning, so as to try to revive those ancient customs known as family meals and conversation…”
Perhaps this is what I love most about asado culture: an unwavering commitment to the meal and its participants, free of technological distraction. Asado is, by its very nature, a very “low-tech” activity—a fire is started, wood burns to coals, coals cook meat, meat is carved and served by hand for each guest to enjoy. One doesn’t need electricity, batteries, or an internet signal to partake in the experience. The result is a celebration of food, fire, and a true human connection to those gathered around us. At the same time, there is a profound cognitive dissonance at work as participants partake in an activity that is centuries old, but feels increasingly rare and uncomfortable.
And so, I invite all of my readers to participate in the “Asado Unplugged Challenge”.