You Can Find Anything At The Deli Counter

In many of the large grocery stores we have gone to here in Uruguay, the deli counter has been impressive. Many of the stores also have an entire wall dedicated to deli style serving counters. Also, the deli counter is not just relegated to prepared meats and cheeses.

The following photo is from our neighborhood Devoto grocery store. It just goes on and on.

The deli counter consists of (in order from closest to farthest away in the photo above):

1. A selection of fish.

2. Prepared food. They have individual, daily prepared, single-serve meals of pasta and sauce, tortas, chicken fingers, rice, etc…

3. A section of desserts. A wide section of desserts. They have pastries, both savory and sweet, and a huge selection of small cookies, candies, and bite-size cakes (for reference, the woman with the basket in the above photo is admiring the baked goods collection).

4. A section of handmade cakes, a full 12 inches of round chocolate and dulce de leche deliciousness.

5. A section for pasta. All grocery stores make their own pasta despite there being a slew of specialty pasta stores in every neighborhood (called a Fabrica de pasta). You can purchase boxed fresh pasta with the rest of the packaged pasta in the refrigerated section, but you can also order pasta at the deli counter. I haven’t figured out if there is a difference yet!

6. A ham section. In the U.S. this would be the deli meats section, but in Uruguay it’s the ham section. A normal grocery store here has a selection of 20-30 different kinds of ham (none of them peppered or honey-baked, just regular ham). There is sometimes a selection of salami (maybe 5 different types). And you can buy what look to be individual hot dogs, which are probably actually some kind of fancy sausage (although most sausage is bought already packaged from the refrigerated section).

7. A cheese section. Most of this cheese is mozzarella which is fairly common. The rest is either Colonia or parmesan. Colonia seems to be a general term for a cheese that comes in a lot of different varieties: colonia farming, colonia suiza, plain old colonia. All the cheeses, parmesan excluded, are rather flavorless. There is absolutely no equivalent to a good extra sharp cheddar cheese from the U.S. There are imported cheeses in the refrigerated section like brie, cambefort, blue cheese and sometimes gouda, but they are extremely expensive and sometimes not very flavorful either.

8. A beef section. Name a part of the cow and they will have it at the deli counter. Want ground beef? They have that too. They also have Asado meat (a cut of the ribs), a variety of filets and steaks, and tongue (yep, it’s true – they use it in a traditional dish called guiso).

As you will notice, there is the complete absence of a poultry section. You can get packaged chicken in the refrigerated section, but a specialty store probably has a much better selection.

Also, each of the separate sections have a little take-a-number machine. Each section has one or two dedicated workers serving behind the counter. Even so, sometimes there are hoards of people waiting. No one ever seems to mind, they just take their number and wait.

Birthday Party!!

Carlos turned 22 and had a big celebration yesterday! Happy Birthday Buddy!

It is fairly common here to be able to rent out a space with some kind of kitchen facilities for parties or meetings. This is what the board gaming group does and what I assume Carlos’ family did last night.

We had our directions; the corner of Blvd. something Artigas and Colorado… Go past the fields and ask for Glorieta. So we walked down the street to catch the bus. We managed to get off a couple stops too early, but I guess that’s better than too late. We walked, we saw the fields, we saw a gate, we saw the guy in camo gear guarding the gate, and we kept walking. We got to the corner of Blvd. something Artigas and Colorado and knew we missed something. We called Carlos. He sent his brother Juanma and friend Ale to come and collect us.

Apparently we were suppose to stop at the gate and ask the camo guy about Glorieta. Turns out Glorieta is NOT a person. It’s the name of the little building where the party was. Go figure!

The party was great. I imagine there were about 40 people including friends and family. There were lots of snacks, along with beer and coke (both staples in Uruguayan dining). Some of the snacks we hadn’t seen before… Faína, which is a garbanzo flatbread that is sometimes placed atop pizza (called pizza al caballo). Maní, which are peanuts, but these had some kind of hard salty outer coating on them which reminded me of a corn nut.

When the majority of people arrived (probably around 10:30 pm) Carlos started the karaoke singing. It was very apparent that this might just be his favorite thing to do other than play ultimate, but unfortunately I haven’t gotten any good pictures of him doing either. I must say that karaoke in spanish was much more enjoyable in english, but that could have been the beer talking!

Matt and Juanma singing "We are the Champions" by Queen... Reminiscing about their recent win at a beach tournament in Monte Hermoso.

Juanma and some of the other frisbee boys enjoying themselves.

In the middle of karaoke there were hamburgers served. Then there were games. I guess the TV show “Minute to Win it” has gained some popularity here, so we played a variety of minute to win it games. These included: stacking bolts into a tower using a skewer, balancing a tower of 5 apples, bouncing a spoon into a cup, and moving  a cookie from your eye to your mouth without any hands. Asa and Matt both succeeded in making bolt towers and I dropped my cookie on the floor.

Asa and Carlos playing a "Minute to Win it" game.

Maru trying to out-balance her opponent in another "Minute to Win it" game.

We were taught (sort of) how to play Truco, an uruguayan card game. It uses a special deck of cards numbered 1-12 and may be one of the few fun purchases we make while we’re here. That is if we can actually figure out how to play.

We were just getting ready to leave when Carlos informed us that there was dessert. We sung happy birthday and ate delicious moosey cake with dulce de leche (sort of like caramel). Special thanks to Carlos and his family for organizing everything and creating a lovely evening for everyone.