Uruguayans eat meat at most meals. Beef and lamb are relatively cheap and Uruguayans prepare them in many ways. The traditional asado is a barbeque where the meat is cooked slowly over coals. Other ways to prepare meats include sausages (salchichas) or soups (pucheros) prepared with meat and vegetables. The parrillada is a typical Uruguayan dish of roasted meats prepared in various ways. Chivito is a steak sandwich and húngaras are spicy sausages served in a roll. Milanesa Uruguaya is a breaded, deep-fried steak.
Breakfast is usually a light meal, with bread and jam and a cup of coffee or mate. Lunch may be a large meal at home, but in factories and schools most people just have a sandwich. The most substantial meal of the day is dinner, which Uruguayans eat late in the evening. Soup, salad, steak, bread, wine, cheese and fruit, followed by coffee or tea, make up a typical Uruguayan meal. 

The Italian influence on Uruguayan cooking and food preparation has been very important. Uruguayans love pasta and pizza. The Italian influence can also be seen in the crusty bread Uruguayans eat at every meal, as well as in the popularity of coffee and pastry bars. Uruguayans drink strong espresso coffee from very small cups at these bars and enjoy an assortment of sweets. Coffeehouses are meeting places for friends, quiet spots for reading a newspaper or book, and a favourite location for negotiating business deals.

  Did you know?
The drinking of yerba mate is a respected tradition in Uruguay. Sharing a gourd of yerba mate is also a good way to socialize and exchange information. During the military regime of the 1970s, when public gatherings of citizens were discouraged, drinking mate was one way that people could still get together and talk freely.
Wine, including the local Uruguayan wine, is served in almost all restaurants. Clericó is a mixture of sparkling wine and white wine that is very popular at parties.

In the countryside, the gauchos often camp under the branches of the ombú tree, and light a fire for a barbeque. They boil water to make yerba mate, a bitter tea, which they drink from a hollowed gourd through a silver tube tipped with a strainer. This silver tube is called a bombilla and is often finely engraved. The gourd of yerba mate is passed from person to person. Gauchos play their guitars and vie with each other in improvising songs called payadas de contrapunto.

  Milanesa Uruguaya

4 thinly cut beefsteaks (about 450 g total) 
2 eggs, beaten
250 ml breadcrumbs


Roll each steak in flour, dip in beaten eggs, roll again in bread crumbs. For best results, refrigerate steaks for an hour. Deep fry steaks in hot oil or shortening. Eat warm immediately or cold in a sandwich with tomatoes and lettuce.