Eating Fried Cakes with Yerba Mate when it Rains (Torta Frita Cuando Llueve)
An important tradition in Uruguay and Argentina is when it rains, everybody eats fried cakes (tortas fritas) and drinks yerba mate. Traditionally they were made from a simple dough of flour, lard, water and salt, although modern recipes sometimes contain other ingredients such as oil, butter and eggs.
This custom stems from the traditions of the ‘gauchos’ – the farmers/cowboys who often spent days away from home working with their livestock, and would often live on a basic diet of beef cooked on the open fire and yerbamate. It is also thought that the gauchos collected rainwater for the dough as it made tastier cakes. When it rained it was difficult to cook for long periods out in the open, and so tortas fritas were the alternative.
Nowadays tortas fritas are made not out of necessity, but because they have become part of a way of life and there is nothing than sitting in the shelter on a drizzly day, sipping on yerba mate with friends and family and eating the fried cakes. It beats the feeling of cabin fever when stuck indoors.
Flatten each piece with your palm to make a disc and make a hole in the middle. Deep fry until golden in very hot oil. Serve hot with a sprinking of sugar. For a treat you could drip in dulce de leche a delicious caramel sauce.