Chimichurri sauce, a staple in Argentine cuisine, has long captivated taste buds with its vibrant flavors and tangy kick. Asados, the traditional grilled meat feasts in Argentina, would be incomplete without this beloved condiment.
As Argentina’s renowned culinary export, chimichurri sauce holds a special place in the hearts of locals and food enthusiasts alike. It has become an indispensable accompaniment to the country’s grilled meat culture, adding a burst of flavor and zest to every bite.
However, while its role in Argentine cuisine is unquestionable, the true origins of chimichurri remain a captivating enigma. A plethora of theories and tales surround the birth of this vibrant green sauce, each adding a layer of intrigue and speculation to its rich history.
Yet, amidst the popularity of chimichurri, its origins remain shrouded in mystery. In this article, we delve into the intriguing tales surrounding the birth of chimichurri, exploring various narratives that attempt to unravel its enigmatic history.
Curry, Immigrants, and the Birth of “Chimichurri”:
British Soldiers and the Curry Connection:
One tale traces the roots of chimichurri back to the early 19th century when British soldiers stationed in the Rio de la Plata region, who were accustomed to enjoying curry sauce with their meat, referred to the Latin American sauce as “curry.” Through linguistic evolution, “Give me the curry (Gimme curry)” eventually transformed into the term “chimichurri.”
Jimmy McCurry: An Irish Twist:
Another account introduces an Irish immigrant named Jimmy McCurry, who resided in Argentina during the late 1800s. Craving a sauce to complement his steak, McCurry drew inspiration from Worcestershire sauce and created a unique blend. In honor of its creator, the sauce was named “chimi-churri,” eventually becoming the popular moniker.
Basque Influence and Tximitxurri:
The influx of Basque immigrants in Argentina during the late 19th and early 20th centuries presents another intriguing possibility. Basque cuisine features a sauce called tximitxurri, which bears striking similarities to chimichurri in its inclusion of peppers, parsley, and vinegar. Considering the phonetic resemblance and the Basque “Tx” sounding like a “Ch” in Spanish or English, the association between tximitxurri and chimichurri gains credence.
Salmoriglio: An Italian Connection:
Argentina’s substantial Italian population offers another potential influence on chimichurri. Salmoriglio, a sauce of Sicilian origin featuring oregano and lemon, aligns with some elements of chimichurri. Although it may not contribute to the sauce’s name, salmoriglio’s existence hints at a possible culinary inspiration behind the development of chimichurri.
Ancient Origins and the Quechua Connection:
Argentine journalist and author Daniel Balmacada presents a fascinating perspective, suggesting that the term “chimichurri” has ancient Pre-Colombian roots. According to Balmacada, the native Quechua people used the term generically to describe strongly-flavored sauces used for preserving or enhancing the flavor of different meats. This indigenous connection adds an intriguing layer to the sauce’s history.
Uniting Argentina and Beyond:
Regardless of its exact origins, chimichurri has become a symbol of unity among Argentines. Chef Eduardo Massa Alcantara adds a heartwarming touch, stating that “chimichurri” signifies friendship. This sentiment underscores the shared appreciation and enjoyment of this beloved sauce among Argentines and anyone fortunate enough to savor their culinary delights.
While the true origin of chimichurri sauce remains elusive, the multiple tales that surround its birth provide a glimpse into the cultural tapestry of Argentina. Whether tied to British soldiers, Irish immigrants, Basque influences, Italian culinary connections, or ancient Pre-Colombian traditions, each story weaves a unique narrative around the creation of chimichurri.
Ultimately, what matters most is the unifying power of this condiment, bridging gaps and bringing people together through the pleasure of shared meals.