I had read in some of the Expat forums prior to arriving here that certain products are either hard to find, extremely expensive or even non-existent in Uruguay. Specific spices, nuts (expensive), Goat's milk and prepared "ethnic" foods like Mexican are a few examples that come to mind. I am so very happy to report that while preparing for the worst, we have been very pleasantly surprised. The most common foods found here are an Italian/Spanish hybrid along with what most outsiders consider the "Argentine" Asado. We've been to one Mexican restaurant, Roma Tijuana, were quite pleased and know of only one other by Montevideo Shopping. Contrary to what some Norteamericanos think, Uruguay is NOT Mexico!!! It is easier to find a Heineken or Stella Artois here than a Corona!
We packed a few things with us that we'd use frequently, like fish oil and flax supplements along with a hefty sized bag of TVP (texturized vegetable protein). We thought it was such a specialty item, there was no way that we'd be able to find some down here. We use it as a filler instead of meat for stews, chili, etc. Well, lo and behold, today I found it.
There is a street market or Feria that sets up every Friday just outside of our hotel door. Stretches one block down calle José Martí and two blocks down Pedro Francisco Berro and is mostly fresh fruits and veggies with the occasional meet, cheese, clothing or housewares stand. I was walking through with Geneva today and wanted to get some fruit (Now which one of the 40 fruit vendors do I go to??) when I happened upon a lone vendor of spices. He was jammed in between a few busy fruit stands and with baby in tow, I coundn't muscle my way in to the stand for a closer look, but my superior height allowed me to see the labels of the items, including bags of a chunky, recognizable, dried product labeled "Protein de Soya". Bingo! It's here. It's around. Our bag will probably last us a long while but it's good to know that reserves exist!
The whole atmosphere surrounding the discovery was made more wonderful by the old accordian player sitting on the corner. As he hunched over his well loved instrument, I dug for some change and put it in his tin. I am a sucker for the accordian.
Later today, long after the market packed up and traffic once again took over those streets, we found that the Mexican restaurant down calle José Martí in the other direction was open for business. After several days of watching and waiting while they set up, we can't wait to try it out. It is more of a restaurant stall, with a vey small but cute storefront and outdoor seating (picture to come tomorrow). No matter, I'm sure we'll end up there tomorrow to try out their veggie burrito (Brad) and some wonderful meat option (me) all washed down by a few lovely Corona....