What to Eat in Chile
Many people think they are familiar with Latin American food, but each country has its own variations and specialities. Chile is no exception in this. Walking tours of Patagonia are bound to help build a real appetite, so you will be perfectly placed to tuck in to some of the great cuisine Chile has to offer.
Read on to find out what types of food you can expect to find on your holiday to this wonderfully diverse South American country.
An asado is less of a meal and more of an event. Chileans take the ritual of barbecuing meats, especially lamb in Patagonia, incredibly seriously. Most of the day will be spent preparing with a trip to the market to purchase the best cuts and various salads made to accompany the main event.
As soon as the charcoal on the parilla, or grill, is lit then the ritual begins and everyone gets involved in cooking the meat. It is imparted with an incredibly smoky flavour yet remains juicy, making it a delightful thing to try.
The atmosphere at an asado is just as important as the food and it represents a whole evening’s entertainment. Sit back and enjoy a glass of wine and some of the best meat you will ever taste.
You simply can’t travel to Chile without trying an empanada or two or three or four… these crescent-shaped pasties are often filled with mince and onion, cheese or vegetables. They can be found everywhere from restaurants to small shops and street stands.
Some places have shops selling just empanadas, which offer more variety with a dozen or more flavours to choose from. When near Chile’s extensive coastline be sure to try an empanada filled with fish for a bit of variety.
Empanadas make a great snack anywhere due to the fact that the wet mixture inside is enclosed in a protective piece of pastry. They are even good cold from your backpack when trekking so pack a couple for that extra energy boost during the day.
Another tasty snack is a humita although you can order two at a time with a salad on the side to turn these corn husk-wrapped parcels into more of a meal. Untying the string and unfolding the husks you will find a little portion of spiced cornmeal cake inside.
Watching Chilean women wrap up these packages is fascinating as they are so deft at folding and tying them that they can do several in a minute. They are then thrown into the pot and boiled until hot right the way through.
Pastel de choclo
If empanadas are Chile’s answer to the Cornish pasty then pastel de choclo is the equivalent of cottage pie. The spiced meat and onion filling is topped with corn dough as opposed to mashed potato and sometimes the mince is replaced with chicken.
I almost certainly don’t need to tell you how good the wine is in Chile, but it is amazing how much better it tastes surrounded by the countryside where it was produced. While much of the world enjoys Chile’s cabernet sauvignons and merlots, its carmeneres and malbecs often stay in the country.
Wash down your meal with one of these or opt for a pisco sour to kick start the evening. The pisco in this cocktail refers to the local liquor which is then combined with lime, sugar and egg whites to make a tasty drink.