By Majo Lois
By Patrick Hieger
It’s said that the fried tortas arrived to the Rio de la Plata with the Spaniards. The tradition is to eat them in the winter (no one will want to eat a piece of dough fried in beef fat when it’s 40 degrees out!) and on rainy days. Why? Because the story goes that in colonial times women would get together on rainy days and make the masa.
During the 90s the torta frita was the street food of choice in Montevideo. The whole city smelled of fried foods, until the local government regulated the process, and the majority of vendors, who simply set up shop with a table to make the dough, a can of gas and a huge pot of oil, disappeared. Nevertheless, in recent years the torta frita has started coming back in numbers in various neighborhoods, near schools and public meeting places, for something to snack on.
[The Great Cuisine]
In this new video from photographer Pablo Baracat for his The Great Cuisine series, get an inside look of the first Cocina Sin Fronteras on the road in Montevideo, Uruguay at Café Misterio. Rivarola and crew teamed up with Matías Perdomo of Italy’s Al Pont de Ferr, who happens to be a Uruguayan native, to cook alongside Misterio’s chef Juan Pablo Clerici for one-night only, 12-course dinner full of lots of smoky, foam-filled surprises. If you weren’t able to attend, get a taste of what you missed out on, and why you should be sure and attend the next installment of Cocina Sin Fronteras (which has yet to be confirmed). We’ll be there!
In 1946, Antonio Carbonaro, at his restaurant Mejillón Bar in Punta del Este, created this emblematic Uruguayan dish. A foreign client entered in a hurry, when the kitchen had already closed, and ordered goat’s meat, which isn’t common in Uruguay. In the heat of the moment, Carbonoro took out a sandwich whose key ingredient was thinly sliced beef loin, with warm bread, butter, and ham. The client was not only fascinated, but the plate became a symbol of Uruguay up until today.
So, how do you make a chivito?
In ascending order, you’ll find a sandwich with bread, lettuce, tomato, meat, pancetta, egg, ham, mozzarella, mayonnaise, olives, and another slice of bread. Chivitos are so popular that in Montevideo there are locations specialized in making exclusively chivitos, and the cooks who prepare them are experts. The “chiviteros” basically work with two spatulas that they use to cut, flip, and move the ingredients on a griddle that’s set around 180 degrees.
Pablo, a “chivitero” for the last three years, taught us a few of the keys for a good chivito.
[Mamacha / Majo Lois]
Following in the steps of the culinary boom that the media has been immersing us in for awhile, Uruguayans want to learn to eat, but also how to cook. They want to learn to use different spices, develop a deeper understanding of cooking techniques, and fall back in love with old ingredients while discovering new ones.