Category: Commerce and products

Freaky numbers

A few days ago, walking dogs, Syd handed me this handwriting gem from his and Gundy’s excursion to the weekly feria (open air market) in Atlántida.

Strange Uruguayan handwriting

OK, not as impressive as his last contribution, but still begs the question — who teaches kids in school to make backwards 9s, or lollipop 9sAnd if not taught, how do they learn?

But the freaky numbers today had nothing to do with nines. Or fours.

They were the number 200.

I have an ongoing routine with the carnicería (most of whom I know by name, and all of whom know me by name), where I ask for 454 grams (one pound) of bacon. The owner, Javier, holds the record for coming closest, cutting off a chunk that weighed 447 grams or so.

Javier also has one of the most impenetrable accents I’ve heard in Uruguay: his speech sounds more like a weed eater cutting through thick grass than a human language.

Whatever: I didn’t stop there today, because though we “needed” bacon, I had not long ago visited a new carnicería that slices bacon, far more fun to cook than my hand-cut slices. Back to them in a sec.

On my way back from buying organic produce from out neighbor Pilar in the country, I stopped at the feria in Estación Atlántida for the first time, because I forgot to get Roquefort (ROAK-aye-fort) cheese Thursday, when Syd was collecting weird nines, also at the Atlántida feria. I found a guy selling cheese and sausages and hod-knows-what else out of a 60-year-old Bedford (English) truck. I asked for 200 grams of Roquefort.

He dropped on the scale two little plastic-wrapped chunks. 200 grams, exactly. I have never — ever — gotten a round number when buying cheese. I was impressed!

So on to the new carnicería, a large space where the slicer is in the back, and scale in the front, and where, last and first time I visited, I asked for 200 grams of bacon (panceta) and ended up with 400+. So this time I just said 200-300 grams, and the guy shuffled back to the slicer. And finally shuffled back, and deposited the sliced bacon onto the scale. 200 grams, exactly.


What is Universe saying?




Syd’s suggestion

As I mentioned in my last post, my best efforts were for naught when it came to re-installing the tire after I installed an inner tube on the hand truck/dolly. The tire I inherited simply did not behave like the ones in YouTube videos. I’m pretty strong, but it just wasn’t happening.

Because Syd mentioned the gomería (tire shop; translates as “gum,” unh huh) on Ruta 11, I stopped by there this afternoon. They don’t know me — I went maybe there once six years ago — and the place was crazy busy. No sign of an office. How long would I have to wait before someone noticed me — and then how long before they could get around to it? I was in no hurry, and would happily have left the hand truck there for, well, whenever.

But a kid (anything under 35 is a kid at this point) noticed me. I quickly explained in Spanish that I’d installed an inner tube, but no way could get the tire back on.

Whatever he was doing, he stopped. Tried to do the job by himself with big-ass tire pry bars they have (an order of magnitude larger than the screwdrivers I have), called over another worker to help him, and it took them a couple of minutes, working together, to fight the tire back onto the rim. Nice! Wasn’t just my incompetence!

In the process (don’t ask me how) the other (non-tube) tire lost all its air. No matter. He filled both, passed the rig back to me.

How much do I owe you?, I asked.

He simply waved me off.

Please remind me of this the next time I complain about business in Uruguay.

Hand truck in my garage, Urguay


No complaining today about doing business in Uruguay!

I asked our butcher to save some bones for the dogs. Usually I end up with 6-8 kilos. But today they only had 2.5 kilos .

bones, Uruguay

Not enough to bother charging me for, apparently.



Patético (“marketing”)

We just bought some fresh mushrooms at Tienda Inglesa. The good news is that, since we moved here, they are usually available. Bad news is that they’re kind of ridiculously expensive — USD $7.50/pound. But they sell side by side with another imported brand that sell for almost 70% more. Have to wonder why anyone would pay that, but hey.

So here’s what we bought:

Mushrooms in supermarket, Uruguay

200 grams! 50 grams free! So we paid for only 150 grams?

Well, no — from the Tienda Inglesa web site:

Fresh mushrooms, Uruguay
Just have to note in passing that no accessories are included, and technical information may vary.

And what did we pay?

Supermarket receipt, Uruguay

94 pesos for 200 grams, as advertised. Yet we somehow got 50 grams free, paying 94 pesos for 200 grams?

Bill Hicks had a routine* in which he said, “If anyone here is in advertising or marketing, kill yourself … seriously, though, if you are, do.” I found that a little strong when I first encountered it.

But when I consider that these people are trying to convince me they’re giving me something for free when I pay the same for the same amount that I paid last week — well, thank you, Bill Hicks, and you marketers, kill yourself. Seriously. You’ll be doing your soul, and the rest of us, a favor.

*no link, because being Bill Hicks, it contains considerable profanity, but easy to find.

Uruguay retrograde: feedlot beef

As I thought everyone knew, grass-fed beef is superior to feedlot beef in every way. And the wonderful thing in Uruguay is that most cattle are grass-fed. There are some feedlot operations, but from what I gather, they tend to be smaller than their North American counterparts, and duration of cattle poisoning shorter .

Poisoning? Yes. On a feedlot, cows stop eating grass, which their bodies are designed for, and are fed massive quantities of (genetically modified, herbicide resistant) corn, barley, soybeans, and other grains that seriously mess up their digestive systems. They also get loads of antibiotics and growth hormones. They spend the last six months of their lives wandering around in their own excrement, with not a blade of grass in sight. But getting fat, fast, which boosts corporate profits.

Feedlot versus pasture in California
Your preference? Photo source:

In North America,

“Many are choosing to follow organic practices in their herd management, which are clearly healthier and more humane for the animals. The good news is that meat from those animals is free of antibiotics, steroids, hormones, pesticides, herbicides and other potentially toxic substances. The bad news is that it can take nearly two years to bring those animals to market on grass.

“Studies have shown that an animal’s diet can have an impact on the nutritional content of the meat on the consumer’s table. Grass-fed meat has been shown to contain less fat, more beneficial fatty acids, and more vitamins and to be a good source of a variety of nutrients. According to a study published in the Journal of Animal Science in 2009, eating grass-fed beef provides many benefits to consumers:

  1. Lower in total fat
  2. Higher in beta-carotene
  3. Higher in vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)
  4. Higher in the B-vitamins thiamin and riboflavin
  5. Higher in the minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium
  6. Higher in total omega-3s
  7. A healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids (1.65 vs 4.84)
  8. Higher in CLA (cis-9 trans-11), a potential cancer fighter
  9. Higher in vaccenic acid (which can be transformed into CLA)
  10. Lower in the saturated fats linked with heart disease”

Source: Grass-Fed vs. Feedlot Beef – What’s the difference?

So what’s this got to do with Uruguay? Profoundly marching in the wrong direction, and proudly advertising the fact. Here’s the current flier from Tienda Inglesa:

Uruguay ads for feedlot beef

Unbelievable? I expect consumers here will swallow this whole, and embrace this “modern” idea as a good thing, just as dousing the entire countryside in glyphosate seems like a perfectly good thing to do.

They’ll figure it out eventually. Or not.