As a militant carnivore, Montevideo's Port Market becomes my tommy's paradise. Piles and piles of meat stack up juicy on the grill, satisfying the most visual appetites, the most vicious minds.
Considering that beef is one of the main sources of Uruguayan exportation, it is only natural that it's also a strong component in the Uruguayan gastronomy. However, the best cuts are sent abroad: the best Uruguayan meat is not consumed in Uruguay, but far away, sadly, where it's best paid for. This doesn't want to be a complaint though, because what I've tried here has been nothing but perfect. Usually, asking the chef "what would you have if you were in my place?" is a good choice. "Picaña", he answers with no hesitation, "picaña is the only thing I'd eat. It's a very tasty brazilian cut, as long as it's juicy! Overcooked meat is useless". Great truth. Notice that in the Uruguayan grill the embers used are wooden, not coal like in the barbaque. I guess this affects meat as the type of wood of the barrel affects the wine it contains. Possibly it makes a big difference for the experts; for me, just a big curiosity.
What I haven't confessed yet, is that the question to the chef, besides being journalistic, was necessary, given my tourist confusion facing the menu. Today the are serving roast, grilled chicken or spiedo, chorizo, blood sausage,chinculines, sweetbreads, tripa gorda, choto and pamplona. Now I know, for example, that chinchulines are intestines, or that pamplona is a pork or chicken roulade, filled with cheese, ham, pepper, olives or raisins. Will they know this in Navarra (Spanish region where Pamplona is the capital)?