I Miss Uruguay, but Not the Food

Bodega Alto de la Ballena 2

Earlier this year, my husband and I traveled to Uruguay.  We spent a week touring the quiet South American country that is nestled in between Argentina and Brazil.  Uruguay is amazing, but the food takes some adjustment.  Prior to visiting, the few people that actually were familiar with Uruguay told us to expect the best beef in the world at the cheapest price.

Uruguay is known for its Angus cattle.  There are approximately three cattle for each person in Uruguay.   It’s a whole lot of farmland (and vineyards that produce Tannat varietals).   Uruguay exports some of the finest beef, diary, wine, fruits and vegetables.  Food quality and availability are not the issue.

I think the problem lies in the preparation.  Uruguayans are zealous in their use of “parillas”.  Parillas are outdoor grills for barbecue.   I’m pretty passionate about grilling myself, and was impressed with the Uruguayan fervor.  When shopping for real estate, a suitable house must have a parilla and a bidet. (Uruguay has a heavy European influence, thus the bidet action.)  I wanted to try meat cooked using a parilla, so I tried a chivito.  A chivito is a popular Uruguayan sandwich made with sliced steak, eggs, and ham.  Despite the meat being cooked on a parilla, something was missing.  It needed seasoning.

The Uruguayans aren’t big fans of spices, especially anything hot.   You won’t find Asian food or any of the Spanish dishes typically served in Mexico.  Everything tasted bland to me – even the pizza.  You will find a pizzeria on every corner thanks to the Italian influence.  But don’t expect the pizza to look like what you would expect in Italy or the United States.  In Uruguay, the pizza has very little sauce, and the toppings are covered by huge slices of cheese.

Although I was disappointed with the lack of seasoning, there were a few things I really enjoyed.  One day of our trip, we decided to take a wine tour.  We visited a vineyard where we sampled wine, and later ate lunch at a magnificent estate overlooking the ocean.  The food was fantastic!  We had an appetizer of figs with Camembert cheese, followed by fresh seafood and paired with awesome wine.  Overall, our trip to was wonderful.  Uruguay is a very peaceful place with European charm and nice people.


Scenes from Uruguay

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