Democracy and Asados in Chile

Patricio Lanfranco, known by some as the Ambassador to the Dwarfs of Tinquilco (well, by me anyway), is one of those people who constantly surprises. He reminds me of one of those Russian dolls, or certain boxes, which you open only to find another tucked inside, and another inside that, and so on. Only as his layers peel back he instead grows larger.

I spent a privileged month in his company, discovering some of the complexities of this man, his beliefs and his country. He was an active opponent of the Pinochet regime, a government responsible for one of the darkest periods in Chile’s history. He is a documentary filmmaker who, among many other projects, has worked with PBS to produce the film ‘The Judge and the General’ which followed the trial of Pinochet. He has been a professional musician, is a master in the kitchen, and at the dinner table with a bit of Pisco, he is a storyteller as well.

This is one of my favorite stories that he told:

One summer there was a girl staying in Tinquilco who developed a bond with lamb. An asado (barbeque typical of Chile and Argentina) was being planned, and the featured dish was to be cordero. The girls lamb was the leading contender for the feast. She was excited for the asado until she found out what it meant for her furry friend. So Patricio said “This is a Democracy, and here the people have a say. If you don’t think there should be an asado, all you have to do is get the votes of the people invited. If the majority does not want the asado, we won’t have one. My vote, by the way, is for the asado!”

Armed with her new power, the girl set out asking people to join her cause. She presented the issue as such: “Do you want this lamb I’ve been playing with all summer to die?”

She collected her votes and not surprisingly, no one wanted the lamb to die. Presenting her tally to Patricio with pride, he immediately smelled a fraud. There were people on the list whom he knew would never turn down an asado. Discovering her method of polling, he explained to her that this was unfair and an invalid vote. She had to go and ask the real question. Do the people want to have this lamb for an asado?

The results the second time around were considerably different, the asado was on. The little girl and her lamb had lost.

What do you think? Is this a perfect representation of Democracy? Where in its pure form all the information is presented to the people and they get to choose, while in reality, facts are skewed to present a picture that sways people to one side if they are not careful enough to question further? This cunning little girl may have a bright, or dark as the case may be, political career ahead of her.

Patricio in the kitchen at Tinquilco:

I hiked with a couple awesome ladies for over 17K to a place with hotsprings. We stayed with Glady and her family, and it happened to be a friends birthday the next day. We were invited to join in their celebratory asado. You can’t get more local and organic than this! If I ate meat, I would have been as excited as my friends were.

Preparations for an asado:



About stephwithoutborders

I decided to sell (almost) everything I own and buy a plane ticket to South America. This is all about why and how, and what happens next.
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4 Responses to Democracy and Asados in Chile

  1. Grace Stika says:

    WOW! Great experience. Poor little lamb! Even tho I am a lamb eater, I couldn’t watch the slaughter.

  2. Hi there,
    You neither are a bad storyteller at all! I loved the way you presented, and very glad that you give the story away with your own thoughts, comments, and pictures!
    Hope you are fine, happy, humble, learning, and thinking in coming back to Tinquilco.
    A big hug, keep in touch.


    • Pato! I was just thinking about you! I haven’t been on this site in a while, I need to return and continue writing. I often dream of Tinquilco, and look forward to sharing the next glass of Pisco with you! Much love, Steph

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