Smuggling in Liquid Gold

Posted: October 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

Not the kind of liquid gold you might be thinking about.


If you came to visit in Uruguay, you would make many people your very happy best friends if you brought these kinds of things with you.

This is the stuff that you simply cannot do without, if you have any tastebuds in your mouth. But none of the products shown here are available in Uruguay on a regular basis. I do not believe that Uruguayans have tastebuds. If they do, they certainly do not keep them active or challenge them in any fashion. Chivito, milanesa, ravioli. Chivito, milanesa, ravioli. Oh, and pizza. Nada mas.

While various isotopes of the famous Uruguayan chivito do present a challenge in terms of cholesterol per cubic centimeter and/or calories by gross, net, and density, surely there must be more imagination to the menu. But it’s a common complaint about people who stay here for a while that there is only one menu for the whole country. This is why these little items here are kept in a safe location away from prying eyes. Well, the sriracha is safe; while I could drink it straight from the bottle (or take a bath in it, mmmmmm), a mere drop would probably cause the average Uruguayan to spontaneously combust. They generally do not like spicy food.

That little bottle of Hokan Fish Sauce retails for USD$18.00 here. I bought a few bottles of it in the US for $1.99 each and smuggled it in my luggage, along with all the other stuff shown here, a few varieties of rice wine vinegar, curry paste, and a few other tasty things. Technically you are not supposed to bring in food items but sometimes the customs agents don’t care. Most of the time. With a return of that magnitude on fish sauce, I would consider bringing in a container load of the stuff. Until I remember that the reason that bottle retails for $18 is because it’s probably been sitting there long enough to warrant its retroactive rent for taking up shelf space while it waits for its new owner.

Aduanas (Customs) in South America is either a joke or a nightmare, seldom anything in between. Last time I came with a whole suitcase of stuff for the house, and they confiscated a $200 diesel pump. This time, I went through Buenos Aires. While my bags were going through the scanner, they were about to pull me aside to check their contents, and then asked, “What is your destination?”

I answered, “Uruguay,” and they just waved me through. This was at Ezeiza airport, which is about a 40 minute drive, in good traffic, to Aeroparque airport where I would be leaving from. I could have brought in any manner of contraband and dropped it off in Argentina. When I arrived back in Uruguay, the aduanas agents could have cared less.

When I was done with these pancakes, I actually considered scraping the leftover syrup back into the bottle…

Heaping plate of delicious mancakes. Fear the buttery, golden-brown perfection.


  1. Carol Peters says:

    What I’m craving is chocolate (AR has chocolate but most is crappy), peanut butter (Em says you can buy it in Salta), fresh papaya (addiction formed in Hawaii), & good Earl Grey tea (AR Earl Grey tea is weak & bergamot-less).

  2. La Gringa says:

    Holy Moly EB, you forgot Asado!!!!!

  3. Uruguayans do have taste buds – they just haven’t been overstimulated to the point that they require lot’s of salt, sugar, or strong spices like Americans’ have become. Its called subtlety. Get used to it.

    Re: La Gringa – Let me guess – you are a veggie head.

    • La Gringa says:

      @ julie r butler – What gave you that idea? No I am not a veggie head, and if you ask me, Uruguayans are SALT HEADS, because they use salt on everything, to the point of “can’t eat this” or “tomorrow I’m gonna be puffy”. They use that grueso salt, or that molido salt on all foods. They may have bland flavor buds, not liking spices or perks to the food, but salt…..they overdo it…….

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