Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Haunted by Fray Bentos

After researching information about the Liebig chromolithographs, origins of bouillon, Marmite, Oxo and Campbell's soups, I became curious about the company town of Fray Bentos, in Uruguay.
Apparently, it's pronounced Fry Bentos. Huh.

How the old factory looks now, as an industrial museum.

Old, rusted company cars, seen on the way into Fray Bentos.
More old company cars seen on the way into Fray Bentos

The old office in the Fray Bentos plant, as it was on the day it closed down.
Frigorífico Anglo del Uruguay
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Frigorífico Anglo del Uruguay was a meatpacking plant located at 
Fray Bentos, Uruguay, on the Uruguay River bank.
In 1924, the Vestey group purchases the old installations of Liebig Extract of Meat Company and the production goes on under a new name.
During its peak period, El Anglo had 5,000 workers whose ranks included English, Belgians, Russians, Spanish and Italians. It finally closed in 1979 after Europe and the United States had cut back their purchases from Latin America. Small brick houses with thick walls running along the river's edge in Fray Bentos form the "Barrio Anglo," a city-within-a-city where meatpacking workers lived that featured a hospital, a school, a social club and a football squad.
   Once I started looking into the history of Fray Bentos, I was drawn into its story. I felt very much like the author of the blog page below. 

Fascinated by what once was.

Once the world's largest refrigerator.

Taken from this excellent blog page at Survival for tribal peoples

Short extract from Lost Cowboys: From Patagonia to the Alamo by Hank Wangford, 1996Click on the book to purchase.

In this extract the author and his fellow traveller, 
Joe Tambien arrive in Fray Bentos to be given a tour of the 
meat processing plant, El Anglo, by Eduardo Irigoyen.

We had arrived in Fray Bentos. The Intendencia, the Town Hall, 
is on Fray Bentos' small town plaza. 
In the centre is a filigree iron 
bandstand like the one in Kensington Gardens. We go in and find 
Eduardo Irigoyen who is to take us to the plant.

Eduardo has jet-black hair and a nearly trimmed beard vaguely of the 

French student type: He is wearing a white 
short-sleeved shirt under a blue V-neck pullover. Behind his glasses his 
dark eyes get very inter when he talks in a soft but precise voice about Fray Bentos 
and the Anglo Plant. He loves the Anglo plant and all its gory history and I want to hear every word.

We drive down past old tree-lined terraces of low workers houses, part of the 

original Anglo workers' ghetto round the plant. 
We turn a corner, come out of the trees and suddenly we are on the edge 
of a wide river and underneath a gigantic building. 
We walk out on to a rickety jetty and right there on the shore is a 
towering concrete monolith of a building, a hangar, a massive, 
brutish stone box sticking right out into the bright-blue 
Uruguayan sky beside the wide, slow-flowing, yellow-ochre river. 

Across the top of this huge block, in gigantic faded black letters

The Anglo plant seen from the river. Click for full image. roaring across the Río Uruguay,  the beautiful 
River of Birds, is `ANGLO'. This monstrous box is the cold-storage building for 
the plant, the end of this particular line for carcases 
waiting to be shipped directly from 
the shores of this muddy yellow river across the 
Atlantic Ocean to Europe.

It needed to be this big. The Anglo plant was the biggest 

meat-processing plant in the world. "It’s gargantuan fridge 
used to hold enough meat to feed the whole of Britain and 
free Europe during the Second World War.

I wanted to know more.

And more...

What the heck is corned beef anyway?

Corned beef refers to a particular style of brine-cured beef
The "corn" in corned beef refers to the "corns" or grains of coarse salts used to cure it. 
The Oxford English Dictionary dates the usage of corn, meaning "small hard particle, a grain, 
as of sand or salt." Potassium nitrate(saltpeter) is often added to the brine 
to help preserve the beef's pink color.

One of the biggest paper and pulp mills in the world is situated near fray Bentos 
in Uruguay. This pulp and paper mill is from the Finnish paper company of Botnia 
( second largest producer of paper in the world ). The facility is producing 1 million 
tonnes of bleached short-fibre eucalyptus pulp per year:

In the U.S. and Canada, corned beef typically comes in two forms, a cut of beef 
(usually brisket, but sometimes round or silversidecured or pickled in a seasoned 
brine, and canned (pre-cooked).

In the United States, corned beef is often purchased ready to eat in delicatessens
It is the key ingredient in the famous grilled Reuben sandwich, consisting of 
corned beef, Swiss cheesesauerkraut, andThousand Island or Russian dressing on 
rye bread.

Corned beef hash is commonly served with eggs for breakfast.
Smoking corned beef, typically with a generally similar spice mix, produces the 
cold cut known as pastrami.

The extraordinary Anglo Mural and its meanings at the RiosCichero Mural blog
which depicts elements of the life and times of the Anglo company at Fray Bentos.


After reading that I need to post this. How to best dry your hands using paper towels
It's surprisingly useful.

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