Things We’re Looking Forward to Back Home

**These are not in any order of importance.

– A nice long soak in the jacuzzi. It’s freakin’ cold here!

– Extra sharp cheddar cheese.

– Having a dryer. I want some nice, warm, and dry clean clothes.

– Meat other than beef. Don’t get me wrong, they’ve got some darn good beef here, but that’s really all they have.

– Family, friends, and pets. It’s really hard being on the other side of the world, although I really like SKYPE!

– Warm(er) and drier weather… here we come summer!

– Kitchen utensils that work!

– Body wash. Yeah, they don’t really have that here.

– Quiet and natural places. It’s a bit hard to bond with nature in the middle of a city without transportation.

– A wider variety of food and food ingredients. I could really dig some pannang curry right now and I could use some spice in my food.

– English. Although we learned a lot of spanish and can communicate here, there’s nothing like the native tongue.

– Debit and credit cards. Much easier than carrying cash everywhere and easier to track expenditures.

– Recycling!

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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.

Street Market

The street markets are definitely where it’s at! They have fresh and yummy tasting produce out the wazoo, and it’s cheaper than the supermarket. There are no barriers closing the street from traffic, but there isn’t really room for cars to pass. Every once in a while a motorcycle rides through slowly and people just get out of the way.

At one end of the market there are people who display wares for sale. For example, today I saw that someone had a pair of jeans to sell, while someone else had some trinkets. I didn’t see anyone actually buying anything and it seems like the people might be set up there on the off chance that someone saw something they just “had to have”. It reminded me of a garage sale, but on a much smaller scale.

The produce stalls make up the majority of the market. All of the stalls seem to have very fresh produce and a much wider variety than in the supermercado. At the majority of produce stalls the sellers will hand you a plastic bag or you grab one yourself and place what you want in it; each type of item in a separate bag. They then weigh the bags; writing each total on a slip of paper to be added at the end. There was one produce stall that stumped us; the biggest one. I guess we just weren’t paying enough attention, but we walked behind the stall to the second row of veggies and grabbed what we wanted. Little did we know, but at this stall everyone is suppose to take a number and then when your number is called you tell the sellers what you want and they put them in plastic bags and weigh them. The seller didn’t seem angry when I handed him the bag with our two bell peppers and said “es todo”. I was prepared to tell him that we didn’t understand and I was sorry, but he didn’t seem to care.

Just one of the many produce stalls!

There were two trucks that opened up to sell goods out of their sides. One was a cheese truck and the other was the local fish truck. We have been told that the fish is very good, but we were a bit too timid to try it today.

The fish man. Maybe next time we'll have the courage to try some of the fish.

The cheese truck also has an add-on of an egg-man. He sells individual eggs if you want them or in a dozen (“una docena”) and wraps them in newspaper for you to take home.

Eggs for sale! He had both brown and white eggs. We got the brown ones. The brown ones were a bit more expensive, but we figured that must mean that they're better!

All the produce is for sale in kilograms and is remarkably cheap. We got potatoes, garlic, apples, bananas, nectarines, carrots, bell peppers, onions, and eggs for $174 pesos which is about $8US.

Our Spoils!