Did an Irishman invent chimichurri?
Many people are very familiar with the delicious and authentic Irish food, especially the creamy colcannon soup and meat pie that are part of the history of the cuisine. But many people also aren't aware that the real origin of the fabulous food was in the ancient country of Ireland. This ancient tradition of cooking food is one of the secrets that the Irish keep about their fascinating cuisine. And no food is more closely tied to Ireland than the chimichurri.
The name chimichurri means "little choy cheese" in Irish. It is a cheese that comes from the milk of a young cow named Noella. It is said that the cow was only able to produce enough milk for the baby calves to drink when she was only twelve days old, which is how the tradition of making this food began. After this time, the cows were no longer able to produce milk so the English brought in animals to help them along. It wasn't long before the first sheep and pigs were added to the growing family of animals that helped to make the Irish food we know today.
Because of the importance of these animals to the Irish economy, they were often used to provide meat for the entire families while the other livestock (sheep) were utilized for farming. There were few choices for the families other than pigs or chickens, and even then they had very limited options. The Irish people had to rely on what they had available to them to feed their families. This led the ancient Irish people to focus almost exclusively on the use of cheese in their kitchen.
It wasn't until sometime in the nineteenth century that the kitchen became a more permanent part of the home, and that means that the tradition of cooking food outdoors was introduced. The tradition of grilling food outside started as a way to cook outside in the summer, but it soon grew into a more permanent reason for cooking in the open air. The smoke from the grill cooked the food better than the oven or stove. As time went on, the fire was replaced by a lighter and then by gas lamps. Today, a gas light is simply placed under the Chimney to help cook the food faster.
In addition to the outdoor grilling of the earlier days, the Irish people were also adept at making their own chimichurri. This was very common among the cowboys of the Old West. A cowboy would create a fire and pile up dry leaves and branches of spruce trees. He would then dry the materials and build a chimney of the same materials using his own skills and expertise. Today the chimichurri is still constructed like this, but with modern machines.
How does all of this fit into the story about where did the chimichurri come from? Well, I don't know if an Irishman invented it, or if cowboys created the modern chimichurri. I do know that many of the traditions we have about cooking and creating meals in the open air are derived from the ways these men and women lived hundreds of years ago. Whether it was the cowboys who came up with the idea, or whether they simply modified an older method, one thing is for certain; today's modern kitchen can take much better pride of place in our homes than the old fashioned one's we had in the past.