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Post 2: Chilean Home Cooking

Hey everyone! So if you know me, you know I love food and love to critique it. Chilean food has its own style, ingredients, and flavors, which I will try to break down in this post. Then, I have some photos representing a typical day’s meals.

Note: This post is about home-cooked meals. Street food is very common here, and I should also make another post about that. If you’re curious, google “empanadas de pino” and “completos” to get an idea of what Chileans eat outside of their kitchens. Or just wait and eventually I will get to describe that myself.

Chilean food, for better or for worse, is very plain. I have not eaten anything spicy, or even anything that varies from salty, sweet, or lemony.  Starches are everywhere, mayonnaise is by far the favorite condiment, and when I say salty, I mean that everything tends to be covered in salt (and then my family often adds more on their own plates).

But what Chilean food lacks in flavor, it makes up for with its fresh products. Chile is a huge exporter of fruits and veggies, and I often see chilean products at home at the supermarket, but eating it here is way more awesome! It is winter right now in the southern hemisphere, so the “only” fresh local fruits are apples, oranges, clementines, kiwi, pear, and banana. And Chilean avocados are like no other I have tried, with apologies to my Californian friends and family. They are rich, smooth, creamy, and literally pouring out of local markets.

some, but not all, of the fruits and veggies in my house on any given day. Note the luscious avocados!

 

I eat most of these types of produce every day, although not all are pictured here. My host mom has taken pains to assure me that there will be more and different items as the weather warms towards summer. Yet another reason to have another food post later!

Beyond its local abundance, Chile also boasts an almost infinite number of panaderias (bakeries) churning out enormous amounts of fresh bread. Several Chileans have told me that Chile is the number one per capita consumer of bread, and sometimes it certainly seems that way. I have tried pan batido, pan de molde, pan amasado, and my favorite, pan hallulla, among others whose names I forget. Bread generally comes in personal sizes (think hamburger bun size) and is bought close to daily by Chilean families. Typical sandwiches usually feature avocado and tomatoes and add cheese, turkey or ham.  Hamburgers, sausage, and hotdogs are also very common and popular.

A typical day’s food:

Chilean food is also very consistent, so I basically eat exactly this every day. I did list some common alternatives and other options so that you can get an idea of what else is out there.

Breakfast

Pictured: fruit salad, yogurt, fruit, what I eat every day.
Other common alternatives: Many Chileans eat pan con palta, or bread with avocados, for breakfast (and also for lunch, and also for dinner…)

Lunch

Lunch is the biggest Chilean Meal, starting late and lasting for hours sometimes.

Pictured: Lettuce salad, hard boiled eggs, potatoes, rices, veggie quiche, water
Other Common Alternatives: Most main courses involve meat, this was a rare veggie meal. Stews and soups are common hearty options. Also, most of the time salads include avocado and tomato as well.

Dinner

Many Chilean families, like mine, eat “once” rather than dinner. This translates literally to “11” but in reality is a small meal similar to an English tea, served around 7 or 8 in the evening.

Pictured: pastry, fruit salad, hot chocolate (although usually we have tea), egg sandwich. This is very consistent day to day, albeit with a different sandwich and pastry.

 

Favorite meal: My mom makes a mean chicken soup, called cazuela that includes a full piece of chicken and a half of a corn on the cob, as well as noodles, potatoes, and tons of veggies. It is truly soup for the soul and I love it!

Least favorite meal: Occasionally, I get a sandwich that has turkey, cheese and BUTTER!!!. At first I thought it was a weird, second kind of cheese but then I realized that I was biting straight into butter. Gross.

As I was about to publish this post, I realized I forgot to mention manjar!!! Manjar is probably my favorite Chilean ingredient. It’s very similar to dulce de leche, a creamy and rich caramel that goes in ice cream, churros, cookies, and cakes like this one.

So there you go! As I was describing all of this food, I should probably describe the wonderful woman who cooked all of it. My host mother’s name is Julia and she is sweet, friendly, and caring. One of my next posts will introduce my whole family but for now just know that I truly feel at home, (and spoiled!) and love living here.

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