MONTEVIDEO – The Uruguayan custom of consuming barbecued or roast beef on May Day is going stronger than ever, with sales moving along nicely at their highest point of the year, significantly above other holidays such as Christmas and New Year’s, officials with the Uruguayan National Meat Institute (INAC) told EFE.
“There is very high consumption of beef on May Day. Barbecued beef consumption shoots up on this day. There’s not such a high consumption of meat on any other day,” INAC domestic consumption manager Gabriel Costas told EFE.
Costas said that on May Day, which – like many other countries – is when Uruguay celebrates the Day of the Worker, citizens here traditionally celebrate with barbecued or roast beef grilled over wood or coals.
“Basically, here in Uruguay they use wood and that’s the special situation for May Day,” he added.
Meanwhile, the president of the Uruguayan Meat Sellers Union, Heber Falero, told EFE that “without a doubt, May Day is the day when the most barbecued beef is sold.”
In addition, he said that May 1 is the day on which the fewest Uruguayans go to work, along with New Year’s Day and Dec. 25, and thus “a whole lot of barbecued beef is sold” for family get-togethers on that day.
“For us, barbecue is not just food, it’s a ritual, and preparing it takes time. And that is the Uruguayan tradition, when you prepare the meat you have a drink ... an aperitif, et cetera. ... That’s the reason that it’s so deeply rooted in the country,” he said.
Uruguayans are among the biggest beef-eaters in the world, with an average annual consumption of 60 kilograms (132 pounds), according to INAC figures.
“Each resident consumes 60 kilos of beef per year, 20-22 kilos of poultry ... 16-17 kilos of pork and 4-5 kilos of mutton,” said Costas.
“In the rest of the world, the main meat that’s consumed is pork or poultry,” he added.