Our son’s inquiry topic for primary school this term is cultural identity, I asked him what do we know about Uruguay? What food do they eat? He said to me “Meat”.
Although not wrong, I thought to myself, as unique as El Chivi is with its chivitos and being the only Uruguayan food in Melbourne, what more to this country and culture can we share and can we learn? South American culture that is so common at family events and such a loving experience to be a part of.
Whether you are a South American relating to this topic, who eats this food regularly or not since you migrated or if you have stumbled across this page and would like to know more about Uruguayan food.
Lets journey together, lets pretend we are sitting at Abuelas (Grandmas) house and she is feeding us her love with our third plate of soup and 3 more lovingly handmade courses left to eat and soon our pants wont fit..
With rich flavours, laden with salt, oil and caramel, the Spanish/European influences are seen within the cuisine. Decadent desserts with layers of pastry and caramel, meats cooked over the coals and more meat if you haven’t eaten meat today. I joke because when Uruguayan family come to stay they have 95% meat & 5% veges or salad and they say they have salad in their chimichurri.
Asado – barbequed meats low and slow over the coals with sides like chorizo, blood sausage or intestines
Chori Pan – chorizo in bread with chimichurri
Chimichurri – green goodness of parsley, garlic and salt marinated in oil
Yerba Mate, torta fritas, empanadas, faina, arroz con leche, dulce de leche, chaja, Russian salad, Milanesa, Flan, Martin Fierro…… So many options and so many more to be eaten!
My personal favourites as a kiwi being introduced to this family and culture has to be, arroz con leche – rice pudding with extra cinnamon no sultanas, pizza with faina its called pizza of the horse and alfajores.. shortbread biscuit sandwiched with dulce de leche and rolled in coconut! Alfajores nieve from Uruguay are the BEST and often contraband smuggled in a suitcase from Uruguay.
The gathering of family, waiting until late in the day for the asado to be cooked, while snacking on entrees and drinking Whisky is magical. An outsider could be shocked by the meal before the meal but I think the gathering and celebration of cultural traditions so many years after arriving in this country is very special, we sit, eat, drink and they speak Spanish, I try to understand and although not as often as what it used to be, it is a very unique Uruguayan family occasion.
Eat, enjoy and celebrate! Take a trip or find a local restaurant and immerse yourself in a new culture it is amazing!
Adios, hasta luego xx