South America Drive

Parrilla – South American wood grill….. and the weather

December 14

“The world’s best smell – grilled meats. This is no place for a vegetarian. There are grills everywhere.  Each evening walking along Sarandi, we see make-shift grills set up in the street. Kids run around. Parents visit, share a drink while checking the grill. Love the camaraderie.

Ate at a “parrilla” today at the Mercado del Puerto. We were warned about safely. Met lots of people from a cruise ship. The parrilla was a fun experience. Our two-person platter would easily feed three. The blood sausage was yummy. Guts…not so much.

“Rained again today. It rains most days if only for a short time. The winds are constant. Montevideo could be called The Windy City.”

One “must do” experience is eating at a “parrilla:” a grill restaurant. At the port of Montevideo, there is a large, old, wrought iron building called Mercado del Puerto. You will see many tourists here since a number of cruise ships anchor in the port. With lots of tourists, you get more crime – just don’t be naïve. The port was a great place to hang out. Lots of color and great people watching.

Supplying tourists to the parrilla.

Supplying tourists to the parrilla.

Scattered amongst various vendors at Mercado del Puerto, you will find 7 or 8 parrilla. You can’t miss them. Guys will approach you and encourage you to visit their establishment for “the tastiest” or the “best deal.” Each parrilla has a very large grill perhaps 12 feet across. A tall stack of wood burns at one end. As the bottom layer of wood is turned into glowing embers, the embers are pushed under the long grate. On top are delicious smelling beef, pork, chicken, and possibly lamb sizzling on the grill. There will be a few colorful red and green peppers, potatoes (both regular and sweet), and a few other things all getting a nice char at the edge.

Typical parrilla at a home.

Typical parrilla at a home.

We ordered the mixed grill: a little bit of everything. It arrives on a sizzling platter or mini hibachi. In addition to pieces of meat, there were 2 kinds of sausage: regular (chorizo) and blood sausage (morcilla). If you like blood sausage, you will love these. If you think you don’t like blood sausage, try it. Tucked into the stack of meat and sausage was something pale and tube-shaped. It turned out to be intestines or “guts.”  Chris liked them, but they were a little too green for me; literally, it was green inside, definitely grass fed.

Parrillas are ubiquitous with South America. Large grills are found in every home, each apartment complex, and most hotels. It is a time consuming way to cook, but if you drive down a residential street in the late evening, you will see ½ the homes with smoke rising from their grill. We had a large Parrilla on the roof of our apartment. We never used it, but it was frequently used by others.

Roof top - parrilla around the corner

Roof top – parrilla around the corner

Though we did not use the roof for grilling, we did catch some sun or watched the weather. The windows in our apartment faced the river where most of the weather came from.  We actually took a picture of a tornado coming out of the clouds over the Rio de la Plata. It rained often and it was usually very windy, but the temperature was warm. Remember, the seasons are the opposite of the northern hemisphere.   Since our apartment was higher than most of the surrounding buildings, we would watch people hang out their laundry (no clothes dryers), then the rain would arrive (rinse cycle) followed by strong winds that blew the jeans horizontal (drying cycle).  At the end of the day, the ladies would appear on the roof, fold the clothes and disappear inside.

Drying cycle for laundry

Drying cycle for laundry

Tornado seen from our apartment

Tornado seen from our apartment…one helluva rinse cycle about to arrive

Please leave a comment