Monday, July 20, 2009
The Montevideo Mercado
After a long bus ride through beautiful, green countryside we arrived in Montevideo, the capital city of Uruguay. For a Wednesday night the bus station was extremely busy and we waiting in line til it was our turn for a taxi. We usually walk or figure out the public bus system but it being so late at night and relatively cheap we figured it best to hail a cab. The first hostel was part of Hosteling International, outrageously expensive (as they all are,) and surely full of douche bags so we braved a few block walk to a perfectly good hostel with our own balcony,spelling-corrected" id="SPELLING_ERROR_1">TV y bano for half the price. We left to go to dinner and on our walk back I witnessed my first robbery (besides the time when that black kid took my cell phone right out of my hand when I was talking to Katie walking through Fishtown in Philly.) An older, homeless looking man was shoved to the ground right in front of us by 2 young boys as they ripped out his pockets. It was upsetting and shocking and I feel asleep not looking forward to the next day of sights.
In the morning enough people were out but I still guarded my precious messenger bag all the more. We set out across town towards the mercado passing shady looking characters all the way. The main terminal of the market is all restaurants and though none of them were open we still walked through and watched the prepping of the grills. The immediate surrounding streets were produce markets, "artisan" shops, panaderias y mas restaurants that surely weren´t as good as any place you´d find in the market. We walked half the city in the morning checking out crumbling architecture until it was time to eat. Back at the market everything was just opening up. As we walked around inspecting each grill we were hounded by waiters all trying to win us over. "We are the best!" " Where are you from?" Get out of our face! We decided on a small grill in the corner, one who didn´t harass us to eat there and sat at the bar in front of the grill for heat and entertainment. There were a few old men already seated and the one I sat next to was finishing a plate of meat with a full decanter of red wine to go. We ordered from the cook after we went over to the side and he told us what everything was. Passing on the intestines y kidneys we ordered Pampalones (stuffed chicken wrapped in pork y stuffed pork wrapped in pork) and settled back to watch it cook. The cooked presented a huge piece of Asado del Tire to the man next to me who nodded and it was thrown on the grill. By now from where we sat we could see all the restaurants with a few customers each. All men who probably have their favorite parrilla and favorite seat at them. We watched as he threw logs on the fire, racked y situated the coals, tend the meats y fry huge, fresh eggs. When ours were ready they gave us each half. Crispy skin, moist y tender meat with cheese, pepper y jamon oozing out the center. We were in heaven. At some point I took a break from stuffing my face and looked over at the old, silent man once more. The cook asked him if he wanted another piece of something and he turned down the corners of his mouth, cocked his head to one side, shrugged and another piece was thrown on the flame. There was still wine to be drank after all. We sat, ate y observed for over an hour and reluctantly left. Out of the smokey market y back into the sunlight we walked the rest of the city, stopping only once so I could have my deteriorating boots shined in the plaza.