Uruguayans eat meat at most meals. Beef and lamb are relatively cheap and Uruguayans prepare them in many ways. The traditional asado is a barbecue where the meat is cooked slowly over coals.
Other ways to prepare meats to 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 hungaras 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.
In the countryside, the gauchos often camp under the branches of the ombu tree, and light a fire for a barbecue. 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.
Uruguay has a varied and rich diet, influenced by its Spanish and Italian heritage, as well as its proximity to Argentina and Brazil.
Meat, particularly beef, is a staple of the Uruguayan diet, and asado (barbecue) is a popular cooking method. In addition to beef, Uruguayans also eat other meats such as chicken, pork, and lamb.
Uruguay is also known for its dairy products, including cheese, milk, and yogurt. The country has a strong tradition of drinking mate, a type of tea made from the dried leaves of the yerba mate plant, which is consumed throughout the day.
Other traditional Uruguayan dishes include chivito (a sandwich made with steak, ham, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and other ingredients), empanadas (pastries filled with meat, cheese, or vegetables), and milanesa (breaded meat).
In recent years, there has been a growing interest in vegetarian and vegan diets in Uruguay, and there are now many restaurants and cafes that cater to these dietary preferences.