Food & Beverage

Mar 1, 2017

URUGUAYAN GASTRONOMY - A DELICIOUS SURPRISE

Seen many times as an unbalanced continent, South America still keeps away many almost unexplored small wonders. It is the case of the second smaller country of this continent, Uruguay. It is one of the most developed countries of Latin America and the first in the index for life and human development quality.

The borders to the Atlantic Ocean and some of the most important rivers didn't convince Uruguayans to introduce fish into the regular gastronomy. And, in the small country, there is not a single chef with world recognition, not even a restaurant showing off between the best in the world. Still, there are some "parrillas" which don't go unnoticed.

Let's start from the beginning: what is a "parrilla"? Well, it is simply the base with iron bars where you place the meat to roast. It is also the name locals give to restaurants where the meat is served.

That is the most important base for Uruguayan food, ox meat at its derivatives. We must not forget the country has a strong gaucho tradition (as in Brazil), cattle breeding is a strong economical asset and, also because of that, the meat cut is treated as a true art.

The Uruguayan art of meat cutting includes several options: chorizo and ojo de bife, entrecote (the French way), filé mignon or picanha, so much appreciated in neighbour Brazil.

But the Uruguayan gastronomical star is, undoubtedly, "asado de tira". It is a part of the rib, cut in such way the bones stay very thin and all equal in size. The meat is roasted in the "parrilla" for 15 minutes on each side, thus reaching the perfect point to serve. The meat gets a pink colour, evenly cooked, soft and juicy. This is the main reason not to ask it to be cooked rare; you will risk getting it raw, or nearly.

Usually, the served portions of roasted meat are huge, as the side dishes are minimal, resuming to simple salads, rice, potato chips and "boniato", which is a species of sweet potato, with an orange colour.

Another typical dish is "puchero". It is an ingredient mix: sausage, panceta, chorizos and vegetables, all cooked for four hours, within a broth. It is, after all, a sort of Spanish cook which suits nicely through the hard winter of that Latin America zone.

For a "lighter" meal, you will find at almost every corner of the country, a place where they can serve you "chivito". It's a sort of sandwich in which the bread gets filled with meat, cheese, ham, eggs and mayonnaise. Some varieties include salad and bacon and it is usually served with potato chip as side dish.

Desserts are another well guarded wonder.

The milk cream is more bodied and darker than the usually found in other countries. That is up to the milk quality (fatter than usual) which it is made of. This sweet is so consistent it can be transformed into milk flan pudding.

The same happens with de the milk cream mousse. The differences, anyway, remain only in the way they are prepared and the time of shaking the milk, making it become thicker as it is more shaken.

Truly typical from South America, is "alfajor". It is a sweet which is composed of three pastry slices, made with honey, which acquire a crunchy and soft consistency after being roasted. The pastry slices are then filled with milk cream and covered with melting chocolate. They can also be powdered with baking sugar or honey.

To go along with your typical Uruguayan meal, you can choose the wine made out of Tannat caste, which production has been increasing in the last years, as well as it's quality. The grape is French but it was in Uruguay it "stuck" and became typical. You can also find Merlot wines, however, you will find more quality options, produced somewhere else.

Norteña beer, Uruguayan production, is not easily found as it is more frequent in neighbour Brazil. In case you prefer beer to go along with your meal, recommendation goes to Patricia, with a lighter taste.

And you can also choose between "clerico" or "sangria", ideas for warmer days. "Clerico" is made mixing white Chardonnay wine, to various sweet fruits, as grape, banana or pear. "Sangria" is made with red wine and more acid fruits such as strawberry, apple, orange or lemon.

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