Montevideo and the waterfront
You can learn a lot about people and places through food. What ingredients are available, what materials are needed to prepare them, what the climate is like, etc. It’s an art and a way of life.
Uruguay is a carnivore and beef-appreciating omnivore’s delight. The local people take great pride in raising world-class cows and cooking world-class beef. It is plentiful and it is extraordinary.
I’ve been told on more than one occasion that there are more cows than people in Uruguay. Whether it’s true or an exaggeration, I don’t know, but there are fewer than 3.4 million people in the entire country, and outside of the major cities, I’m told the Uruguayan countryside is populated almost exclusively by the bovine ilk. I hope they don’t sTAKE over… Forgive me for that awful pun, and please continue reading…
Our first night in the city, we visited a local restaurant that was recommended to us by the embassy staff. Just a few blocks from our hotel, La Pulpería was the perfect way to spend the evening, and was one of the best meals I’ve ever had.
It was a tiny place, which sat maybe 20 people around a bar on stools. Instead of a bartender and a tap selection, you sit in front of the large open wood-fire grill which faces the restaurant, and watch the grill-masters at work.
They cook with wood here, not charcoal. The pit had a specially designed fireplace that allowed the glowing embers from the logs to drop below the meat, and then the grill tenders would rake the coals around to their liking, and for the perfect seer on the meat.
The grill-master and grill
Carne de Uruguay
Uruguayans also take great pride in their world-class wines. Though their neighbors in Chile and Argentina are more recognized in the U.S. because of the amount that is imported there, Uruguayan wines are also known regionally for being exceptional.
I think I’ve had more steak in the last three days than I have in the last three years. It is fun to be traveling with a group of people that is eager to sample the local recommendations, and the foods and beverages that people pride themselves on in the places we go. We’ve had wonderful encounters and made new friends in the restaurants here, and hope to come back soon.
One interesting adjustment we’ve had to make is to the Uruguayan schedule. Our days have been long, begin in the mornings with our programming, and end in the evenings. By 7pm we are all hungry. If you show up at a restaurant at 7pm, you are likely to be the only people there. Most people begin to eat dinner between 8:30-11:30pm here.
We had a late event night last night and decided to go out for a snack afterwards, and could barely get a table at 1am, but that’s ok… We’re on Uruguay-time now.