Post 7: The Food Sequel
Yes, I’m writing about food again. I can’t help it, I love to try new things, analyze flavors, and just eating in general.
Last time I described my home cooked meals and Chilean flavors. This time I will describe fast street food, specifically snack and sandwich options These two posts by no means cover all of Chile’s culinary options. Notable missing elements include seafood dishes, stews, chorillana, which is a dish with beef, eggs and french fries. I also didn’t manage to snap any pictures of the bakeries, cafes and ice cream stores that offer sweet treats. In spite of these lapses, I think that I did manage to capture a lot of common chilean favorites.
Sandwiches are a big deal in Chile. They are extremely popular among workers, students, partiers, children, basically anyone who wants to eat without spending too much time or money. There is at least one sandwich place on every block, with options usually under 2.000 pesos or $4. Varieties include Lomito (pork) and Churrasco (beef) and often chicken and ham as well. All the bases are then topped with a variety of options, such as cheese and veggies. One popular condiment option is the italiano: mayo, avocado and tomato, the colors of the Italian flag.
Probably the most popular sandwich is the completo, a hot dog that is smothered in the italiano toppings, plus other things like ketchup, mustard, and pickles. Large, messy, and mayonnaise-y, completos are not for the faint of heart and are not my favorite. Still, they are devoured by many as a lunch or late night snack. Every day I see students at school put extra salt and ketchup on these and am impressed by their energy and stamina. I didn’t take a pic of any of the sandwiches, in order to not waste money and calories on my photo walk. If you want to see a completo up closer (and they are worth a peek) just google them and feast your eyes on how enormous and fatty they look.
My personal favorite Chilean fast food item is the empanada. Empanadas are stuffed dough turnovers found all over South America but Chilean ones are awesome. They can be fried or baked, filled with cheese, veggies, meat, or fish. The most common type here is “Pino,” which comes with beef, onions, a section of a hard boiled egg, and a pitted olive. They are warm, filling, savory, and delicious.
I decided to take photos of a step by step depiction of me buying and eating a pino empanada. Unnecessary I know, but here it is.
Another special kind of empanada, famous in the nearby town of Con Con, are fried and filled with seafood, such as shrimp or crab. These remind me of my New England roots. I wonder if an empanada stand could take off in Cape Cod next to a clam shack?? Empanadas are sold on the street, in fancy restaurants, and everywhere in between. They cost anywhere from $0.80 – $3 with a higher price usually implying better quality and a higher meat to onions ratio. One empanada makes a good snack and two or more make a meal.
By the way, I also said last time that I would show the new fruits as they ripen. Here are my favorite:
Everyone, or at least most people, loves tasty, cheap, filling food. And for this category, Chile delivers with variety, availability, and price. Although I still miss the wide range and complexity of the American smorgasbord, I love the chance to grab an empanada whenever I want from any street corner.
And if anyone wants to know more about Chilean cuisine, or even some more about Chile in general, watch this: it’s an episode of the Travel Channel’s “No Reservations” when Anthony Bourdain eats all of the above and more while traveling through Chile.
And now I really want strawberries! Good thing my host mama is sure to put them in my fruit salad tomorrow for breakfast