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These 11 Uruguayan Dishes Are Deeply Tied To My Identity As A Latina

Uruguayan cuisine is often overlooked when discussing flavorful Latin American dishes. Still, what Uruguay’s foods may lack in spice they make up for in generous servings of homemade chimichurri and dulce de leche. Growing up between Kansas and Uruguay, these are the foods I missed the most whenever I was away from my South American home. When we had a reason to celebrate back in the midwest we’d order empanadas from an Uruguayan bakery in Chicago, or labor for hours to handmake ñoquis. We’d do anything just for a little taste of the foods we longed to be sharing with my abuela and familia Uruguaya back in Rocha.

Here are 11 dishes from Uruguay to try as soon as humanly possible.

Chivito

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Delicia #Chivito #carnes 551019 desde las 18 30 hs

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The only way to start a list of Uruguayan foods is with the national sandwich, the chivito. To describe this meal as a sandwich would be such a disservice for this dish that’s basically everything-but-the-kitchen-sink. The legend of the chivito tells us it was created to appease the palate of an Argentine woman who came across the Rio de La Plata and was craving chivo (goat meat). Funnily, the beloved dish doesn’t actually contain any of its namesake ingredient. It has steak, ham, bacon, a fried egg or two, and is stacked high with toppings of mozzarella, mayonnaise, tomato, lettuce, and olives. All of that is then served on top of a bed of crispy french fries.

Asado

In Uruguay, there are 3 sheep and 3 cows for each of the 3 million citizens. Uruguayans love their meat. Almost every part of the animal is grilled nightly on the parrilla, usually in family homes. If you’re not lucky enough to get invited to join an Uruguayan family for a barbeque, then head to a Parrillada. A typical asado grill out includes molleja (chicken gizzard), riñón (kidney), hígado (liver), chinchulin (the small intestine from a cow), morcilla dulce (blood sausage), asado de tira (smoked short ribs), lengua (tongue), asado con cuero (steak cooked in the skin), and of course, lomo (steak tenderloin). Choripán was always my favorite dish, which is just chorizo inside a warm, white bread bun.

Yerba Maté

There’s nothing more characteristically Uruguayan than a gourd of yerba maté. Consuming the herbal tea is a national pastime for Uruguayans. Some take their maté with sugar, like my cousins, while others drink the metabolism-boosting tea in all its earthy glory, which is how I prefer it. It’s consumed year round, regardless of the weather. You drink maté through a bombilla straw which has a built-in perforated spoon that filters out the tea leaves as you sip. You know you’re welcomed by Uruguayans when they offer you a cup of their precious elixir. The taste may be bitter but you’d be more likely to offend an Uruguayan by refusing to taste their maté than by insulting the country’s futbol hero, Luis Suárez. Drink the tea and swoon over the national soccer team and you might even get invited to enjoy a backyard asado with your new Uruguayan friends.

Empanadas

In Uruguay, there are never-ending variations of empanadas. They’re typically al horno (baked) instead of fried. So, they’re almost healthy? The flaky pastries are served sweet or savory. My Uruguayan father says you must try at least three flavors–carne picada con aceitunas (beef with olives), choclo y jamón (corn and ham), and panceta y queso (bacon and cheese). Save room for at least one sweet empanada of dulce de leche (caramel) or membrillo y queso (jam and cheese).

Cortado

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Daily dose

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Uruguayans take their coffee in all the typical variations, but the best way to get a caffeine fix is with a cortado, preferably while sitting on a terrace with a view of the bustling streets of Montevideo. Cortados are espresso mixed with an equal amount of steamed milk. They come with tiny coconut macaroons which I always swiftly steal from my father’s plate whenever he ordered a coffee.

Pizza a Caballo

It’s safe to say that about half of all Uruguayans are of Italian heritage–a fact that’s greatly influenced the local cuisine. Fortunately, this means Uruguay has fantastic wood-fire oven pizza. Don’t just order a mozzarella pie though, do as the locals do and ask for your pizza to be a caballo. That’s right, horseback pizza. Don’t worry, this dish doesn’t call for horse meat. This special pizza is topped with fainá–a chickpea cake that originally comes from Genoa, Italy. Pizza a caballo is a favorite meal to share with friends along with a couple of Pilsen, Uruguay’s cheap and tasty light lager beer.

Dulce de Leche

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Arrancamos la mañana con algo sencillo de preparar, conitos de dulce de leche. Con esta receta salen aproximadamente 30 unidades, todo va a depender del tamaño que los hagas. Los podes bañar con chocolate amargo o blanco. A mi me gustan mas con chocolate amargo. A ustedes cual les gusta mas? Ingredientes: ????Harina 0000 250 gr ????Azúcar 120 gr ????Huevos 1 ????Manteca 150 gr ????Esencia de vainilla c/n ????Dulce de leche repostero 500 gr ????Chocolate cobertura 300 gr Preparación: lo primero que tenemos que hacer es la masa para eso, batimos la manteca con el azúcar por 3 minutos, agregamos la esencia y batimos 1 minutos mas. Agregamos el huevo y continuamos batiendo hasta que se integre, por ultimo agregamos la harina y mezclamos hasta que se forme la masa. Lo enfilmamos y lo llevamos a la heladera por 30 minutos. Estiramos la masa de 3 mm de espesor cortamos con un cortante circular las base de los conitos, las colocamos en una placa enmatecada y enharinada y lo cocinamos en un horno a 180ª por 8 minutos. Para el armado de los conitos  en una manga colocamos dulce de leche repostero,  armamos los conitos y es muy importante llevarlos por 1 hora al freezer. Una vez que están bien congelados los baños en chocolate cobertura y dejamos que sequen. #conitos #foodie #dulcedeleche #pasteleria #foodphotography #harina #foodstagram #instafood #recetas #cocina

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Dulce de leche is the Reina of all sweets in Uruguay. In my completely unbiased opinion, the very best cookie in the world can be found in Uruguay, the alfajor. This delightful treat is comprised of two flaky shortbread cookies generously stuffed with fresh dulce de leche and then rolled in coconut flakes. Trust me, you won’t be able to have just one. If you’re like my sister and want a dessert with loads of caramel, order a panqueque con dulce de leche. It’s a thin crepe filled to the brim with dulce de leche, then topped with rum, coated in sugar, and set ablaze. If your sweet tooth still isn’t satisfied, have a churro filled with dulce de leche, a uniquely Uruguayan treat.

Ñoqui

Italians also brought over their custom of handmade pasta. Uruguayans love the potato dumplings so much they honor the dish monthly on the 29th for Dia de Ñoquis. I have fond, yet messy, memories of making ñoqui with my abuela in her tiny blue house in Rocha. We always used simple ingredients, potatoes and water, and the traditional method of making everything by hand. Today, there are many variations of ñoqui on menus all month long–if you’re feeling daring try ñoqui made from plantains or yucca.

Martin Fierro

Uruguayans love this sweet and savory dessert that’s named after a fictional gaucho (cowboy). It’s a slice of dulce de membrillo, usually made with quince fruit, stacked atop a piece of semi-hard white Colonia cheese. It’s simple and delicious.

Milanesa

Another classic Uruguayan dish is milanesa, also influenced by Italian ancestors. It’s a fillet of meat pounded down to a thin, wide sliver, then breaded and fried. Milanesa Napolitana uses steak, but other renditions are made with chicken. Order milanesa a caballo to have fried eggs and french fries on top of the breaded meat–my papa says this is the only ‘real’ way to eat a milanesa.

Clericó

Clericó is the Uruguayan cocktail of choice. The sangria-like concoction is made with dry white wine combined with sweet and sour seasonal fruits and a dash of liqueur to form the perfect summer cocktail. The more succulent the fruit, the more alcohol it absorbs, making for a boozy treat at the end of the pitcher of clericó. If you’re joining my family for a sundowner on the beach, there’s no doubt we’ll be headed to Porto 5 in Punta Del Este for a few pitchers of clericó along with freshly caught mussels, also cooked in wine.


Read: The Alcohol Rub That Generations of Puerto Ricans Swear By

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Let Us Shed A Tear For The Non-Floridians Who Have Never Experienced Publix

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Let Us Shed A Tear For The Non-Floridians Who Have Never Experienced Publix

Hi, hello, thank you for taking a moment to take a seat at my Ted Talk!

I’d like to take the time we have together today to talk about the wonder that is Publix.

As many of you fortunate enough to live in the Southeast know, Publix is a Florida-based grocery store with all of the class.

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They’re a place known for their remarkable customer service and clean aisles. At Publix, shopping is literally a pleasure.

That’s right folks, this is a place of impeccable cleanliness and organization.

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At Publix, no corner is left unswept and no aisle left without the item you needed.

And their subs have been bringing people to tears circa 1930.

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If you haven’t had an Italian sub from Publix what what WHAT are you doing?

Guys! This place is so good that schools literally send students there for field trips.

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At Publix there’s so much to learn.

And their employees actually love working there!

And it’s probably because of their amazing benefits and vacation set up.

Recently a wave of Publix enthusiasts went viral for their devotion to the store’s key lime pie.

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An article by Buzzfeed boasted about the desserts greatness. And they were right.null

But KEY to the Publix experience has been the grocery chain’s dedication to Latino satisfaction.

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They literally have a STORE that focuses on Latinos called Sabor.

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New vest #publixsabor#nowisgreen#ilikeit ????

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The Southeastern-based store has run a line of Publix Sabor stores for years geared toward Florida’s Cuban, Puerto Rican, and other Latino shoppers. Recently they started to expand its offerings in heavily populated Latino populations with a Publix store called Sabor.

This place is the diggs guys! And they have all kinds of amazing foods to offer.

Like their commitment to the Cubano.

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????????????#winning #publixcuban #yesss

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Which for real will NEVER be good as your mother’s, but will always for real do everything to be top notch.

And their Tres Leches cake which is qualiT

Publix.com


And this is a fact that FOR REAL any Latino in the Southeast knows to be true.

No but for real.

It’s a taste like no other.

And beyond Tres Leche you can count on Publix to STAY stocked on your mama’s favorites.

Literally feels like home at the Publix in Little Havana guys.

And they for real have the hookup.

Yes they do.

Now go forth into the world my people and enjoy your limp meals at Whole Foods and Safeway!


Read: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Calls The Lack Of Black And Latinx Diversity At NYC’s Specialized Schools An “Injustice”

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Up Next: Rombai Is Ushering In The Return Of Latin Pop Bands

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Up Next: Rombai Is Ushering In The Return Of Latin Pop Bands

Up Next is a FIERCE series highlighting rising Latina and Latin American women artists you might not know about but definitely should.

If you’ve been waiting for the return of Latin pop bands, let me introduce you to Rombai.

Originally formed in 2013, the vivacious cumbia group, known for bringing Gen-Z fun and flair to the classic genre, went through a series of changes in members before breaking out again last year. After an international social media contest to find two new members, Uruguayan band leader Fer Vazquez is now accompanied by Bolivian Megumy “Megu” Bowles and Colombian Valeriana “Vale” Emiliani, and the three have been cooking up poppy bops that blend the ritmos and sabor of their homelands.

“We believe we are totally different from what is in the market,” Megu told FIERCE. “I think we are all very open-minded to new sounds and are not afraid to experiment,” Vale added.

The band’s first single “Me Voy,” a candied, mid-tempo song about leaving a toxic relationship, proves that Megu’s sensual vox and Vale’s honey-sweet hooks are the perfect mix for Fer’s own charming vocals. The hit already has more than 63 million views on YouTube, and international fans, many attending Rombai’s introductory Latin American tour last year, are hungry for more.

We chatted with the ladies of Rombai about what life has been like since joining the rising band last year, what they each bring to the group, the fun and learning that comes with being an international trio and what’s in store for the group this year.

FIERCE: Rombai formed in 2013. But, since then, there have been a lot of changes. You two joined the group most recently. When and how were you both brought into Rombai?

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Rombai: We entered Rombai through a casting that was done on Instagram this past 2018. Sony Music and Walter Kolm, the manager of Rombai, did this in order to find the new members of Rombai. Girls from all over the world uploaded covers with the hashtag #Rombai2018. Thank God, we were selected and now we are here fulfilling our dream.

FIERCE: What do you think you bring to Rombai that’s fresh and exciting?

@rombai / Instagram


Megu: Much of my culture and flavor, and I hear that I also bring a lot of sensuality.

Vale: Flavor and diversity. Everything about us, even our accents, are totally different.

FIERCE: Absolutely! As you said, what’s great now is that there is a blend of cultures. Vale is Colombian, Megu is Bolivian and Fer is Uruguayan. What do you think this brings to Rombai’s style?

@rombai / Instagram


Megu: We believe we are totally different from what is in the market. I am from Bolivia, but I have been in the US for many years. So I love R&B, I love a lot of Anglo music.

Vale: I love our music, Latino genres, tropical sounds, African rhythms, reggae, and if we combine this with all the years of experience Fer has with cumbia, look at the beautiful mix we get.

FIERCE: How do you think these different styles influence Rombai’s cumbia-pop sound?

@rombai / Instagram

Megu: I believe that each one of us brings our own flavor, and it’s from our cultures. We are very different, but at the same time, we are very similar. Sometimes, it is amazing to see how different and similar we can be. I am definitely the most “gringa,” but we like that because I bring new music ideas like R&B that they love.

Vale: I grew up listening to a lot of African rhythms, Colombian porro, cumbia. I think we are all very open-minded to new sounds and are not afraid to experiment.

FIERCE: What’s cool about being in a group, especially one with men and women, is that you can share different perspectives in one song. We see this in one of your first singles together “Me Voy.” How do you ensure everyone’s voices and perspectives are included in a way that still flows musically when you’re songwriting?

@rombai / Instagram


Rombai: It is a double-edged sword. Whenever we write, we think of the three. It is good to have three people, but sometimes it is also difficult. The good thing is that we know our voices, so we know what parts are left to each one before we enter the studio to record. Above all, communication is important. In Rombai, you can not miss that.

FIERCE: In the chorus for “Me Voy,” which you both sing, you say, “Me voy acostumbrando a estar sola / Así estoy mejor, así estoy mejor.” What are some things you are able to do alone that you might not be able to do when you are in a relationship?

@rombai / Instagram


Megu: It’s a big difference to be in a relationship versus being single. It also depends on the person you are with. For example, now that we are traveling a lot, it is very difficult to have a relationship. I wouldn’t be able to hang out and party with friends, and I do not like having to give explanations. Right now, I’m happy single.

Vale: When you are single, you can do many more things without giving explanations. But I really think that the song speaks of a toxic relationship, one that’s not well, one where both partners are tired of hurting each other and prefer to be alone.

FIERCE: Totally! And it’s important to make that distinction. You all just had your first promotion tour in Latin America, going to Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Colombia. What was that like?

@rombai / Instagram

Megu: Honestly, it was incredible. I returned to my country after seven years of not having stepped foot on my land, and I returned fulfilling my dream. I am very proud of myself. It was so great to learn different cultures. There were times that I couldn’t even believe it.

Vale: For me, it was very exciting. I did not know any of these countries, yet I could feel the love of all the fans that were already part of Rombai years ago. Just the fact that I’m working in the music industry and traveling and meeting so many people, I am really fulfilling my dream.

FIERCE: I know you all were working on a lot of music last year. What can you tell us is in store for Rombai in 2019?

@rombai / Instagram


Megu: UFF! Truthfully, there’s a lot of celebration and joy to come. We want to incorporate new sounds, but, above all, have fun, that’ll always be a part of Rombai.

Vale: It’s important for us to never lose our essence, what makes us different, and continue to cover new countries. We continue to search every day for new sounds for all our fans.

FIERCE: You are both so young, at the start of your careers, what do you hope people can say about Rombai in about 10 to 15 years?

@rombai / Instagram

Megu: What I would like you to say about Rombai is, “Wow, Rombai broke it! What young fighters, who worked so hard to bring their music to different countries.” Also, “what beautiful women and what a sexy man!” Haha!

Vale: That they’re a band that made a difference, left a nice message and brought cumbia to international recognition! There’s still a lot left to do.

Read: Up Next: Meet MyVerse, The Latina Battle Rapper Dominating The Wild N’ Out Stage

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