A mix of indigenous and Mediterranean influences makes Uruguay’s culinary landscape truly unique and distinctive.
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South American passion for football is the stuff legends are made of. While their passion for the sport is second to none, the powerhouses are no more just limited to Brazil and Argentina. With Uruguay’ rich and exceptional association with the sport, the team has rightfully earned their spot in the ongoing FIFA Football World Cup 2018 Quarter Finals. Boasting of the meanest defences, the Uruguayan team has been deemed a ‘no-nonsense’ team with frills-free solid performance. Uruguay defeated Portugal to enter the quarter final that speaks a lot, especially considering the European nation, along with Spain, French and British have left an impact on them.

A very good parameter to measure the impact of colonialists on Uruguay is their local cuisine. The diet heavily relies on animal protein and native Uruguayans were nomadic in nature, depending on whatever was available locally for sustenance. 

Here are the top 5 dishes that Uruguay is renowned for:

Asado

aAsado (Spanish for grilled) is a barbecue technique popular across South American nations of Chile, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. It was the gauchos, South American version of a cowboy, who travelled across the continent and with them travelled asado. The preferred meat variety that make the best bets for this grilled delicacy are beef, lamb or goat, but sausages and offals also form an integral part of asado. The meats are cooked on charcoal made from the trees that do not have strong aromas. The most unique aspect of asado is that it is a community activity. It brings together locals in the same space, where they handover their food to the ‘asador’ or barbecuer to be grilled on a large common fire. 

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Fainá

A pizza lookalike, fainá is an Uruguayan topping on a pizza. Made from chickpea flour, fainá has more similarities with an Indian chila, than a pizza. However, the dish finds its roots from the Italian farinata, known for its custardy soft centre. The thick batter is spread on a baking tray and left in the oven for approximately 10 minutes. Garnished with grated mozzarella which is the popular choice of topping for the hot fainá, there are several other herbs and spices that are sprinkled as toppings as well. Topping a slice pizza with a piece of fainá is a very common practice in both Argentina and Uruguay, but you can devour a slice of fainá on its own as well. 

Choripan

Believe it or not, choripan is the Uruguayan version of a hotdog, and therefore a very popular snack at football stadiums! Portmanteau of grilled chorizo (sausage) and pan (bread), the delectable sandwich marries the mild spices of the sausage with the chimichurri sauce—an explosion of parsley, garlic, red pepper flakes and oregano blended together. A crusty baguette style bread is the perfect foil for the explosion of flavours that makes it a must-have snack and an appetiser! 

Milanesa

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 the name suggests, this is an Italian import, from Milan, into Uruguay. However, a Milanesa has an uncanny similarity to an Austrian weiner schnitzel. At its core, Milanesa is a thin slice of meat, often beaten into preferred thickness, which is then breaded generously and fried. The combination of crispy outer crust with succulent meat on the inside, and seasoned with condiments, is a global favourite. A popular variation of this dish is one served with ham, tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese and is named Milanesa a la Napolitana; the suffix has no connection to Italy, but to a restaurant in Buenos Aires. 

Alfajores

If a Uruguayan is stumped for dessert inspiration, the default base will always be dulce de leche. When dulce de leche is sandwiched between two pieces of cake or cookies what you get is the quintessential melt-in-the mouth Alfajores. This dessert has Arabic roots where it means sweets with fillings. The Uruguayan version then takes this sweet sandwich and rolls it in sugar or even chocolate!

Images: Shutterstock.com

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