Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Mercado de la Puerta (Port Market)

Our meeting at the US Embassy was changed until Friday, so we were able to spend a few hours with our host Daniel. He took us to the Mercado de la Puerta. It was a wonderful afternoon. They have converted an old train station to our version of Fanieul Hall (if you are in Boston). The passenger train station was once run by the British and the Uruguayan Government bought them out of their contract and closed it. They still have a train system but it is for cargo only. Much cargo is also moved through trucking. The idea of re-establishing decentralized rail for passengers is something they are talking about now. The port is owned by the Government but the logistics is outsourced (the contract is bidded/auctioned) to a Belguim firm - Katoen Nate. As the flow of Latin American goods travel through the port, it is at front in center to Uruguay. The port in much larger Argentina must be continually dredged because of the silt fed by tributaries. This port can service what is referred to as the Prosperity Belt of South America (the large cities of South America -Sao Paulo, Rio, Buenas Aires, Montevideo).

We enjoyed lunch with Daniel at the Mercado. We sat at the counter and they cook the meat over an open fire behind the counter. (see picture) We had a a local drink which is a combination of a dry white wine and Champagne and much meat - Churizo, pork and beef rib. The flavor of the meat comes from the grasses and flowers the animals eat (as all the beef here is grass fed) and the local wood (eucalyptus and one other) they cook the meat over. There are also local artisans who set up craft tables by the market to sell their goods.

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