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Thursday, November 15, 2012


On almost any street corner in Montevideo, you can enjoy the aroma of vanilla and sugar coated peanuts being roasted on little carts, where you can buy a small "tube" of garrapiñadas for about 20 pesos (one US dollar) that will serve 2 nicely.

I have been here 4 years and until a few weeks ago, didn't realize that I could make them at home, and with almost no effort. You can caramalize almonds and walnuts, as well, but the peanuts are most common.

Here is what you need: sugar, water, vanilla and peanuts. Not much, huh? I buy raw peanuts (mani crudo) from the local feria and roast them at 350°F (176°C) for about 15 minutes. Then I use them in the recipe for garrapiñadas, below.

1 Cup Water
2 Cups sugar
2 Cups roasted peanuts (300 grams or 11 ounces)
2 tsp vanilla

It couldn't be simpler. Mix water and sugar together in a large pan (I used an old frying pan, but make sure it is generous size), and mix over medium high heat until dissolved. Add peanuts and vanilla and you are on your way. Keep boiling and stirring constantly until the mixture begins to thicken.

Eventually (after about 10-12 minutes), it will produce a white foam. Then you can take it off the fire and stir vigorously, and the mixture will literally dry up before your eyes. The coating on the peanuts will be white and there will be sugar "dust" in the bottom of the pan.

Return to a lower flame and work the peanuts and sugar until it begins to caramelize. When they are a rich brown color (but not burnt), take them off the flame, turn them onto a non-stick surface and make sure they are separated. Voila! You have garrapiñadas.

I thought I should add this warning that a thoughtful reader passed on:

One must be EXTREMELY careful when working with candy made from caramelized sugar.  Once the water boils out of the sugar, the temperature quickly goes WAY above 212 degrees, the boiling point of water.  And sugar is like oil in that it holds much more heat than water.  So sugar burns are much worse than burns from even boiling water.  When sugar just BEGINS to turn golden, the temperature is around 350 degrees.  So one must never even THINK of testing the temperature of melted sugar with a finger, or of licking the spoon!!

You may not live in a Spanish country, but you can enjoy garrapiñadas wherever you live.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Uruguay,Umbanda and something else.

This is an Updated posting! Thanks to all who read the blog and commented!!!.

November 2, here in Uruguay, is called "Día de Los Difuntos" or "Day of the Dead". It coincides with All saints day in some churches. It seems that here in Uruguay some people go to the graveyards and clean up the graves and decorate them with flowers on this weekend.

But there is another ritual that one can run into that's a little scary.
I only mention this because I tend to write about things that I stumble into or observe here where I live.  This weekend I literally walked into or came across a tradition tied to a ritual of voodoo.

This is not the norm for Uruguayans as shown by some comments.
As an Uruguayan I'm a little offended that we could be seen as a country filled by Umbandist practitions, since this is NOT the norm for our society.
Another commenter wrote:
Of course those things on the beach were not offerings to the dead. These kinds of offerings of food and liquor could be offerings to Lemanjá, the goddes of the Sea of the afroamerican religion of Umbanda. It is a mix of beliefs of the african slaves with the catholic religion. But the presence of chicken can be a signal of black magic rituals...the day of the dead has nothing to do with this offerings, you can see them all the year long in places like parks and beaches and another commenter wrote:
Those beach offerings are part of Umbanda (a religion with african origins)

It was a beautiful clear day and hot! Kinda of muggy hot where you tend to sweat when exerting yourself. So I broke down and took my dogs to the beach after a self-imposed ban of it because it was a mess from the last wind storm. The beach looked a little better, not much but a little, so we went into the water, dogs and I (legs only). On coming out and walking along the sand I began to smell an odor which of course, dogs love to check out. That's when I saw the cause. An offering of some kind.

2 dead chickens were laid on a Styrofoam plate each, along with 2 bottles of Alcohol (1 whisky, 1 Sangria wine) and a jar of honey.

There is a Umbanda spiritistic religion (of African-mixed origins) practiced here in Uruguay. Also there is a separate cult practice, a following to a "goddess or Virgin of the Sea" called Lemanjá. I've seen a stature set up of that on the beach at Punta del Este. It's a pagan nature religion celebrated on February 2 where little boats are floated out to sea asking for wishes to be granted. However, these two cults don't offer up animal sacrifices as the chickens would indicate. So it's seems that I stumbled into something else entirely.

In the future I won't be reporting on anything like this again. I would never have reported on it now, except for the fact that I ran into this scene. While learning about people's customs and traditions is interesting and I freely share what I learn about them, I can only go so far into certain types of them. I have to remember that I have important lessons learned.  Wherever I go in this world I must remember this warning about Spiritism and magic practicing beliefs and the dangers of them. Please look up in the Bible book of Deuteronomy Chapter 18 and verses 9 thru 13.  *** Start with verse 13, then go back and read verses 9 10,11,12 and 13 again in that 18th chapter. Among the many types of religions here in Uruguay, Christian or otherwise, there are over 11,000 Jehovah's Christian Witnesses also, here in Uruguay. Native Uruguayans born here who like me stay away from Spiritistic practices because we were warned to keep free from them. If you have any questions about why it's a good idea to stay free from this, feel free to ask any of Jehovah's Witnesses for a free home Bible study or even a simple discussion.

I just thought you'd like to know what's happening.