Chile is gifted with picture-perfect topography, including volcanoes, lakes and the Pacific Ocean to the west, not to mention endless acres of agricultural land. This means a mind-blowing abundance of fresh food over which the rest of the world lusts. Sea bass, beef, avocados, blueberries — we all want a piece of what Chileans are eating. Meat (lamb, beef and pork) is served in all possible ways (pressed between two buns, in hot dogs or off the grill), a challenge for visiting vegetarians. Mayonnaise to the Chileans is what guacamole is to the Mexicans: Let’s just say calorie-counting isn’t a habit here.
Five Chilean food specialties
1. Chorrillana: This dish is made with fried potatoes, finely chopped onion, sausage, steak and one or two fried eggs. Sure, it’s rich in calories and cholesterol — but worth a try at least once in a lifetime. Created in the port of Valparaiso, it can be found mainly in traditional Chilean restaurants.
2. Marisco seafood soup: Fried fish is the king of all dishes, especially during the summer. However, if you want to eat seafood through the year, there is marisco soup. It’s usually made with hake, mussels, onion and garlic cloves, but on the coast, the dish is offered with bread, milk and parsley.
3. Mote con huesillo: This is the best dessert to quench your thirst, especially in hot weather. Sold all year in street carts, it is made with rehydrated dried peaches, wheat, water and molasses.
4. Humitas: One of the oldest Chilean dishes, humitas comprises the pulp of corn, onion, garlic and basil, and it’s wrapped with corn leaves. It’s usually served sprinkled with sugar or with tomato slices.
5. Pebre: This condiment is a must for barbecues. The sauce is prepared with onions, coriander, garlic, oil, salt and hot pepper. It is served to season the meat, salads or the typical Choripan (sausage in bread).
Foodies will love the traditional harvest festivals that take place mostly during the summer from the middle to the south of the country. Here, wine is the main attraction for vacationers and locals, and the fests usually involve the vineyards of the showcased area. They’re great places to try out fine wines, traditional crafts and regional cuisine; you can also hear live Chilean music.
While empanadas can be found in several countries of Latin America, the pine one is completely Chilean. It’s made with chopped onion, meat, eggs and raisins. Families usually buy empanadas for lunch on Sundays, and it’s a typical food for the country’s national holiday.
Where to eat and shop while in Chile
Los Adobes de Argomedo (www.losadobesdeargomedo.cl) is the place to enjoy traditional food including roasts, casserole and corn or potato pie. This large restaurant always has a festive atmosphere, thanks to hosting “huasos,” Chilean cowboy shows. If you want to try any seafood dish,
Central Market (www.mercadocentral.cl) in the capital of Santiago, is place to go. With stalls selling fresh produce, it’s also home to more than 70 restaurants that serve dishes from the different regions.