Eating Argentina

Argentines LOVE their dulce de leche!

When we first arrived in Buenos Aires, punch-drunk after a 24-hour flight (with layovers) from Bógota, we went straight out for dinner following our hostel check-in. The concierge/owner had recommended a place nearby called Bar Cao and said it was typical Porteño food (the people of Bs. As. are called Porteños).

We ordered from their Picadas menu, which was similar to a charcuterie menu: pieces of meat, pâté, goat cheese, pickles, etc. with some bread. We washed it all down with a draft dark beer for Craig and a draft cider for me. Perhaps it was the cider, or the deliciousness of the food, which resembled nothing we had found so far in South America (i.e. nothing fried, no starter soup, cheese that tasted like cheese, excellent alcoholic beverages), but I avowed there and then that Argentina had the best food by far.

Not a great photo of picadas, since I was probably tipsy already on food and cider. Goat cheese, escabeche (marinated chicken in vinegar with onion–one of our favorites), cherry tomatoes, pate with gherkins, artichokes, and cheesy bread with anchovy.

I haven’t been wrong in this assumption, especially in Bs. As. where the food has been much more international and less indigenous (which makes sense as Argentina’s indigenous population is minimal; more on that in a later post). And don’t forget, of course, the grass-fed, free-range cows that supply the best steaks I’ve ever eaten in my life.

Grilled steak and provolone cheese at La Cabrera, a restaurant in Palermo. They have a daily happy hour from 7-8pm where everything is half-off! Yummmm. Best steak I’ve ever had.

In fact, Argentine cuisine is heavy on the meat and dairy, light on most everything else. And because of their Italian influence, the food heavily favors pizzas and pastas (sounds good as long as you don’t mind your pizza slathered with more mozzarella than you can possibly eat and not sustain coronary artery disease as a result… an Italian girl that we met just shook her head in disgust when we mentioned the pizza).

The pastries facturas are also quite tasty. For our two week sojourn in Bs. As., our hostel provided fresh media lunas for breakfast: delicious, chewy croissants brushed with a sugary, sticky coating. They look like regular croissants but don’t have that flaky texture–just pure, buttery softness, not unlike eating King’s Hawaiian Sweet Bread. Since then, the media lunas have varied in quality; some dry and hard, others flaky and too salty; but the golden pinnacle of media lunas is out there and you just have to find it.

Craig holding a mangled factura called, confusingly enough, a tortilla. They were hard, dry, flaky, and fairly disgusting. We hated it when we had to put up with them at continental breakfasts.

Now let’s talk about alfajors. We encountered these when we first arrived in South America, in both Chile and Argentina (the latter are much better–don’t bother with those strangely shaped Chilean ones). The traditional alfajor consists of two cookies slapped around a dulce de leche filling, perhaps rolled in some coconut or dipped in chocolate. I’m not a fan of dulce de leche, which is too sweet and tastes very caramel-y, so luckily there are about a million variations of the alfajor: fruit, chocolate, or cream filling; covered in glaze, meringue, white chocolate, etc.; hard or soft cookies (even Oreo-brand makes an alfajor!). The possibilities are endless, but the best alfajor I’ve ever had remains the fruit-filled, glazed ones we found in Villa General Belgrano. I’ll have to try and whip up a substitute for it when we get home–there are some foods you just can’t live without once you’ve tried them.

The Oreo alfajor–probably my favorite. I’m such an American.

Droooooooooooool.

As we moved north, the indigenous population increased. The food in the Salta and Jujuy region have been more influenced by ancient tribal cuisine as opposed to Italian, and although I think in my deprived state I prefer the European stuff, I can’t deny that indigenous food has its merits. The empanadas here (as well as being baked versus fried, a big bonus) are filled with a variety of things; chicken with provolone, spinach, llama, samosa-like filling with a lemon tang (called Arabia, which necessitated a long discussion of whether this was racist or not). They are unfailingly good, as long as you eat them piping hot from the oven–Craig got some food poisoning from one that wasn’t reheated. They’re also often just called salteñas and some say that the salteña empanada is the best in all of Argentina.

A very Salta, indigenous dish, Locro. A type of stew with corn, yucca, beans, and meat.

Another food item called a tortilla–a giant omelette. Yum!

One last influence from the Italians that was extremely delicious, but also strained my wallet a bit, was the ice cream (I think in some places it was gelato, and there was a lot of sorbet, but mostly it was helado). It was difficult to go anywhere without a Grido, the Argentine equivalent of a Baskin Robbins. You could find one even in tiny towns such as Tilcara, where the population barely crested 5,000, you could always count on finding a Grido. But the pinnacle of ice cream had to be the Freddo, where two tiny scoops would run you about 44 peso, at least in expensive Bs. As, or about $6 USD by official exchange rates. We tried it once, and although it was probably the best ice cream in Argentina, I’m not sure if it’s really worth the price. Ice cream is always good, after all, and the curve is not really that skewed when it comes to quality.

All in all, Argentina was a great reprieve from the fried foods of Colombia, and the indigenous menús of Perú and Ecuador. If I were to choose a country whose cuisine I could see myself eating for the rest of my life, I’d probably choose Argentina. But I’d miss Asian food, which is still sadly lacking wherever we go. And hold half the mozzarella please!

Argentina’s idea of a salad–tomatoes with a single leaf of lettuce.

Matambre – meat wrapped around carrots, greens, and boiled eggs, and then itself boiled in milk and served cold.

Chuleta, any kind of grilled steak, and salade russe, which at times only means carrots, potatoes, and peas with a squirt of mayonnaise.

$1 for a carafe of wine (half a liter), served with ice. Perfect for a hot day.

 

The unappetizing sandwiches de miga, with bread cut from huge blocks into thin sheets. Not filling, and not super tasty either.

Yep, horse in a can.

A milanesa, a flat slab of meat breaded and fried, in sandwich form. This order was more enormous than usual, and had some extra goodies, like a fried egg and ham.

Choripan, sausage (chorizo) in bread (pan), with some chimichurri, a delicious garlic sauce that can be hot, and some light beer (what else in South America?) to help wash it all down.

Argentina is known for its wine, which can be had in large quantities for extremely low prices.

Last, but not least (at least in Craig’s mind), Fernet is King. A bitter, herbal liqueur, said to help digestion, it came in all sorts of forms, some of the cheaper brands scorned by Porteños. I can’t say I like its taste, but it does have an agreeable smell.

Eating Ecuador

Nearing the end of our two-month sojourn in Ecuador, I noticed that I was not ordering a menú del dia (set menu) with the same boredom and apathy that I had felt before leaving Peru. Having never heard anything about Ecuadorean cuisine, we were pleasantly surprised by its variety and tastiness. As evidenced by Craig’s encebollado rating guide, there were several dishes that we never got sick of.

So what was the difference and why was Ecuador so much more palatable?

It’s hard to say exactly, but I think one of the reasons was that Ecuador, like Peru, has many regional cuisines (coastal, Andean, jungle), and throughout our stay, we seemed to pass through a lot of them in such a variety as to make it interesting. Another difference was, in Peru, when we searched for restaurants and checked out their set menus, they almost always had the same five choices listed. In Ecuador, the set menus did not give as many choices, but from one restaurant to another they varied quite a lot–pescado de jugo in one place, seco de pollo next door. The soups that come with all set menus also seemed more diverse and flavorful than the constant potatoes and carrots in chicken broth that we seemed to be faced with over and over in Peru.

But who cares about that, right? All anybody really wants to see is pictures of food!

Our first encebollado, in the central mercado of Cuenca. This cost $1.50, and the most we paid for it throughout the country was about $2.50. You can see why we felt we could eat it often.

Tables laden with sweets lined the plaza de armas of Cuenca. They looked incredibly appetizing but, unfortunately, some of the choices were quite stale.

Chirimoya was described to me as tasting like Skittles. I also read that a good way to eat it was to freeze it and then eat it like ice cream, since its flesh is so soft and creamy. We tried it, but weren’t huge fans. It wasn’t enough like Skittles to enthrall me, apparently.

I cannot for the life of me remember what this dish was called, but it was very popular on the coast. I don’t even remember what kind of fish it was. Craig preferred his pescado frito to be in boneless filets, but I enjoy whole fish. It’s satisfying to pick the bones. Those refried plantains were also very popular on the Southern coast, but we didn’t encounter it at all further north.

Bolon de verde, a ball made of plantains and then deep-fried (lots of things are deep-fried in South America, I’ve noticed, although perhaps not quite as many as in the South of America–har har). This was one of Craig’s favorite things, and while I have become thoroughly sick of Andean cheese (a slab of which sits on top of the bolon) and its strange tang, Craig still doesn’t mind it.

Desserts and pastries were also fairly yummy in Ecuador. I was wondering why Craig wasn’t as impressed by this particular treat when he exclaimed in realization, “Oh, the cup is made of chocolate!” Then he showed the proper respect.

We unfortunately tried llapingachos only a few days before we left the country, but still managed to fit it in twice. The name refers to the fried potato cakes (which were amazing), but the sausage and fried egg weren’t to be sneezed at either. A delicious combination that I wish we’d discovered earlier!

As for the junk food, I have to say I was rather astonished to be mostly satisfied (this could have been partly because of the giant care package my best friends sent me from California, though). Soon after we arrived, I noticed that there were bags of Ruffles chips in every store. “No way,” I thought. “It couldn’t be the same.” Having been disappointed too many times to count during this trip, I didn’t get my hopes up very high, which was lucky (or not really, I suppose) because the Ruffles were fairly disappointing. Their crema y cebolla (cream and onion) flavor didn’t even come close to the American version. But patience is its own reward, and I finally found a chip that actually resembled my beloved Sour Cream ‘n Onion Ruffles. They were called Sarita Rizadas and the sabor crema y cebolla was great!

So Ecuador satisfied on all food fronts, and we left happy campers. Perhaps we’ll try and make encebollado ourselves sometime at home… I’d like to encounter it again someday, and I just don’t see a cevicheria opening up anytime soon in Seattle.

And that concludes our food tour. There were many set menus consumed without pictures taken, and many meals that we cooked ourselves. It could be that, as we’re expanding our culinary talents, we’re not finding it as necessary to eat out as much, and thus have unwittingly varied our consumption ourselves. But Colombia awaits, and I’m looking forward to eating it as well!

Encebollado Rating Guide

Ecuadorean food has been the best so far in south America, and hands-down the best dish in this country is encebollado.  It’s a albacore strew, with cassava and plenty of onion (cebolla is in the name after all).  It’s usually served with fresh limes, chili sauce, cilantro and some sort of accompaniment (popcorn or chifles, for example).  The dish is a staple of coastal Ecuadorean cuisine, but it can be found just about everywhere in the country by looking for a Manabí or Esmeraldeña restaurant.

After extensive research, sampling this dish about a dozen times, from the Galapagos to the highlands, I present my official encebollado rating guide.

  • Broth (3 possible points): Sometimes the broth isn’t hot.  Sometimes it’s only luke-warm.  For me, this will cost a point.  The remaining two points are for general quality of the broth; I don’t think I’ve had a broth I didn’t like, but some are just better than others.
  • Cassava (2 possible points): Is the cassava warm all the way through?  How big are the chunks?  Smaller chunks are better, and usually solve the former problem too.  The cassava is always cooked ahead of time, and added to the broth when serving.  I’m not sure how the cassava is cooked, but some definitely do this better than others.  Sheena hates the cassava and actually ordered her last one without it… sacrilege!
  • Fish (2 possible points): Like the cassava, the fish is precooked and the quality can vary quite a bit.  Size also matters here, with more points going to stews with smaller pieces of fish.
  • Accompaniment (1 possible point): the chifles, or fried banana or plantain chips, and fried/salted corn kernels are my favorite.  The popcorn… not so much.  The best scenario: receiving all three and trading popcorn for kernels with Sheena.

There you go, eight possible points for the perfect encebollado.  And have I found a perfect one?  Indeed I have.  Maybe a couple.  The stew in Bahia de Caraquez was amazing, and the one in Baños had me coming back for seconds, but hands down the best was in the Otavalo central market.  Everything was perfect, including the atmosphere.  Sitting at a tiny counter in the noisy market, you could watch them make every bowl and chat or watch a soccer match while you ate it.  Congratulations Otavalo!

Eating Peru

Now that we’ve made it to Ecuador, I thought I should probably talk about the Peruvian cuisine. For Chile, I researched and made a food glossary. There’s not much incentive for me to do so here since we’ve already exited, but Wikipedia (of course) has a very thorough entry on it. Through the SAE Club, we were able to score some discounted spots on a really delicious gastronomic tour in Cusco. It was run by the restaurant Marcelo Batata, and we, besides eating some yummy stuff, learned some interesting things about Peruvian cuisine.

There are three main, distinct regions in Peru: the Andes, the Coast, and the Jungle. All three have their own climates and crops, which is reflected in their different dishes. Craig and I, not going to the jungle, didn’t really notice a change in the availability and differences in the cuisine wherever we were. After all, you could get ceviche in Cusco (which is in the Andes), and it would be more expensive and perhaps not as fresh as on the coast, but it was still available. And you could also try grilled or fried guinea pig (cuy) anywhere, even though it’s primarily an Andean dish.

“Can you cut this leg of lamb up for us?” we asked the butcher lady in the market. “Sure,” she said, and then pulled out her AXE. When we ate the lamb curry later, we kept spitting out tiny pieces of bone.

If Craig and I were eating out, we would usually try and go for the menu, which is a set menu that we found for as cheap as S./4 ($1.60). Since we didn’t want to chance food poisoning, we would normally go for slightly more expensive, nicer places that had menus for about S./10 ($4). The great thing about the menu, is that it would come with an appetizer, normally soup, the main course, and either tea or soda. A really good deal, all in all, but invariably, the choices for menu were almost always the same: lomo saltado (a beef stir fry), some variation of fried meat + rice, or spaghetti. This became, as you can imagine, somewhat tedious.

An example of a menu, which if I recall correctly, was only S./6. I got ceviche + arroz a la cubana–basically rice with fried plaintains and a fried egg, and Craig got friend wonton wrappers with guacamole + fried chicken breast and lentils.

When I complained to one of my friends back in California about how tired I was of the cuisine, she was shocked and upset. “Anthony Bourdain went to Peru and all of the food he ate looked GREAT!” she exclaimed. But Craig and I, unlike Mr. Bourdain, have much tighter purse strings. If we could, combined, eat for less than $20/day, we were within budget. Therefore, the types of restaurants that Mr. Bourdain could afford, we could not. Marcelo Batata, for instance, had main courses that cost as much as $14… which might sound incredibly cheap to you all back home, but in Peru, this was out of our price range.

And there’s the kicker. When Craig and I are in a cheap country, like Peru, our budget goes WAY down. We can’t think about the costs of meals in the same way as we did back home because if we did, our trip wouldn’t last very long. Thus $14 each for one meal, while totally doable back in Seattle, is way way too much down here. And yes, there is street food, but a lot of it is dicey and not very nutritious.

The downside to having a budget, of course, is the inevitable boredom that happens with the limited things we can cook in hostel kitchens, and the limited choices for cheap eating.

We made gyozas one night, since wonton wrappers are readily available. They turned out pretty well!

The other downside is that nothing tasted the way I thought it would taste. Even ketchup doesn’t taste the same down here. Mayonnaise has a slight lime twist (which I actually enjoy sometimes). If I ordered sopa wonton from a Chifa (Chinese-Peruvian restaurant), the “wontons” weren’t filled with anything… they were just empty wonton wrappers. Spaghetti sauces were always strangely sweet, guacamole strangely sour. There were many instances where I got excited about my order, thinking it would taste the way it tastes in the States, and then be disappointed when it was only a distant cousin of what I thought it would be.

Even junk food was extremely frustrating. I like to consider myself a chip connoisseur… and in the States, you can get pretty much any flavor and variety of fried potato that exists. Down here, the choices are 1) always stale, 2) not very tasty, and 3) not abundant. Even Doritos had a strange taste and texture that was nothing like its North American counterpart. The only thing to do was to buy the imported stuff, which consisted of just… Pringles. Possibly the least exciting chip in the States is what I have to content myself with down here. Sometimes, when I think about Sour Cream ‘n Onion Ruffles or Flaming Hot Cheetos, I cry a little bit inside.

Craig doesn’t care about junk food because he’s a dietary robot who has no cravings. Still, he can enjoy Pringles when I overcome my guilt in buying them (they usually cost anywhere between $2-4).

And so, we just were not able to try every Peruvian dish available, primarily due to budget constraints, and secondarily due to worrying about food poisoning. Luckily, there is ceviche in Ecuador, so hopefully we’ll get to eat a little bit more of that! Otherwise, it’s onto yet another food glossary and trying to get used to the cuisine and the junk food in a new country

Eating Chile

Most people who know me are well aware that one of my favorite things to do is eat. They also know that one of my favorite things to eat is junk. I’m talking about cheese, fried things, chips (I could maybe arm wrestle Russell Wilson for some freaking Ruffles right now)… things that basically destroy Craig’s stomach. (So far, we’ve somehow been able to eat in semi-harmony.)

Now, imagine you’re in a Thai restaurant, but you’ve never eaten Thai food and have no knowledge of it. Try to picture seeing the word “Pad Thai”, with no other explanation or picture, and wondering what the heck that was. You ask the waitress in your rudimentary language skills, “What is Pad Thai?” Her answer is incredibly fast and completely incomprehensible. This is how I feel whenever Craig and I go out to eat. Even Craig has a hard time understanding waitress-speak here, so it is hopeless for me.

Not knowing what to order makes me incredibly sad. It makes me so sad, in fact, that I have spent the last 2 hours compiling a list of Chilean dishes (in alphabetical order, of course), so that I can look them up on my iPodTouch when I’m in restaurants. No more will I wonder if I’m missing out on something truly amazing because I didn’t know what Salmón Reina was. No longer will I have to stare vacantly at some saucy Chilean waitress as she rattles off explanations designed to frustrate the beginning Spanish learner. I now have the power to eat what I want. Moohahahaa!

And what I want is usually “a lo pobre”, meaning covered with a fried egg (and costing about $4 more than the dish without it, belying its name), salmón reina (I was missing out, if the palta reina definition is any clue), and… Ruffles (Russell Wilson…!).

So without further ado, for all of you current or future travelers to Chile, here is my compiled Chilean Food Glossary, in alphabetical order, taken from this travel guide site, and, of course, Wikipedia. (I know there are some duplicates, but sometimes the explanations were really different and I wasn’t really sure which would be better.) Buen provecho!

Entrees

Albóndigas al jugo – meatballs in sauce

Almejas con Limón – raw clams with lemon juice.

Araucana, Kollongka or Mapuche Chicken: Endemic to southern Chile, known by their light blue/green eggs.

Arrollado de Chancho – Chunks of pork wrapped in pork fat smothered in red ají (chili).

Arrollado de chancho and Arrollado de huaso: Pork roll and chilli roll.

Asado al palo: A form of roasting or barbecuing meat in which the whole animal (usually a lamb) is put on a stick next to a big wood fire and cooked for several hours until tender.

Bistec a lo pobre – beefsteak, French fries, fried onions, topped with a couple of fried eggs.

Brochetas: a variety of anticucho or kebab

Calapurca: Spicy soup, with potatoes, corn and different kinds of meat.

Caldillo de Almejas: Clam soup (“caldillo” is a clear thin soup).

Caldillo de Congrio – conger-eel soup with onions, potatoes and carrots.

Cancato: A baked stew of fish, cheese, onions and pepper, seasoned with lemon and wine.

Carbonada – meat soup with finely diced beef and all kinds of vegetables such as potatoes, onions, carrots, broccoli, green pepper and parsley.

Cazuela de Ave – chicken soup with pieces of meat, potatoes, green beans or peas, rice or noodles.

Cazuela de Vacuno – beef soup with pieces of meat, potatoes, corn on the cob, carrots, onions, green beans, garlic, chunks of pumpkin, rice or noodles.

Cazuela chilota: The Chiloé version of cazuela differs from traditional cazuela because the stock is made of dried choros (Chilean mussels) and lamb instead of beef or chicken, giving it a very distinct flavour.

Cazuela marina: A stew of different types of seafood, such as razor clams, oysters and shrimp, similar to Paila Marina but with more vegetables.

Ceviche – minced raw sea bass in lemon juice.

Chairo: An altiplanic llama stew, one of the least known in the rest of Chile.

Chancho en Piedra – a typical Chilean seasoning. Tomatoes, garlic, and onions grounded together in a stone.

Chapalele: A Chilean dumpling made from boiled potatoes and wheat flour.

Charqui: Dried and salted meat, originally llama.

Charquican – ground or diced meat cooked with garlic, onions, potatoes and pumpkin all mashed. It is a mushy dish but great.

Charquicán – Potato, pumpkin, mince, onion, carrot sometimes with peas and corn (both optional) all mashed together.

Chicharrón de papa: Pieces of meat and fat from llama and lamb, boiled and then fried . Served with potatoes, salad, or consumed as a snack by farmers and peasants.

Chochoca: Also known as chochoyeco, trotroyeco or trutru, this is a traditional Chilote dish prepared with raw squeezed potatoes and boiled mashed potatoes or flour, stuck to a pole and roasted in a fireplace.

Chorrillana: a typical Chilean dish consisting of a plate of french fries topped with beef sliced into strips, eggs, fried onions and occasionally sausages.

Chupe de Locos – abalone bread pudding.

Chupe de Locos: A rich stew made with the loco or Chilean abalone, served with bread and baked in clay pots or “Paila de greda”

Conchas de camarones: Prawns, leeks, cheese, milk and other ingredients form a mix that is served in oyster shells.

Congrio Frito – deep-fried conger eel.

Cordero al palo: Another characteristic dish of the southern regions – a lamb roasted on a stake over a bonfire. In the northern regions, similar dishes are prepared but with young goats, called cabritos.

Corvina al horno: A whole corvina (saltwater fish) stuffed with cheese, tomatoes and longaniza (sausage), baked.

Costillar de Chancho – baked spare (pork) ribs.

Crudos: Crudos (Spanish for “raw”) is a typical German-Chilean dish similar to a steak tartare.

Curanto: A traditional preparation where seafood and meat is cooked in a big hole in the ground using heated stones.

Curanto en Hoyo – a typical dish from the south of Chile. Traditionally prepared by heating fish, seafood, potatoes, some meat, milcaos and types of bread over red hot rocks in a hole in the ground. The food is wrapped in big leaves and then covered with dirt so that it slowly cooks over a number of hours. (Similar to a hangi in New Zealand). On Easter Island it is called Umu Pae.

Curanto en Olla – same ingredients as the curanto en hoyo only that it is cooked in a pot instead of under the ground.

Empanada de Pino – typical turnover (pastry) filled with diced meat, onions, olive, raisins and a piece of hard-boiled egg, baked in earthen or plain oven.

Empanada de Queso – typical turnover filled with cheese.

Ensalada de apio: Celery salad, with the celery peeled chopped and seasoned with lemon, salt and olive oil. It can also contain boiled eggs.

Ensalada a la Chilena – sliced tomatoes and onions with an oil dressing.

Ensalada chilena nortina: Onions and tomatoes prepared a la Julienne. It is similar to the basic Ensalada Chilena with the addition of goat cheese and olives.

Ensalada de Quinoa: Quinoa salad comprising quinoa and other vegetables.

Erizos con salsa verde: Sea urchin is very abundant in the Chilean seas, but its extraction is limited by the government to certain times of year only. It is often eaten raw with a little lemon, coriander or parsley, and onion, as an appetizer.

Estofado de chancho: Pork stew.

Estofado de cordero: Lamb Stew.

Guatitas: A stew of cow stomach (guatita means “tummy”).

Hallulla: a flat round bread baked with vegetable (but sometimes also animal) shortening and is used for several traditional Chilean sandwiches.

Humitas – boiled corn leaf rolls filled with seasoned ground corn, similar to Mexican tamales.

Jaibas Rellenas: stuffed crabs

Jurel (kind of kingfish): Eaten in salad or as a cheaper substitute for tuna.

Locos con Mayonesa:, accompanied usually with lettuce and potato salad.

Machas a la Parmesana – parmesan cheese raisor clams.

Mariscal – cold soup with all kinds of raw seafood.

Merkén: a traditional Mapuche condiment, made with dried and smoked red chillis and coriander, ground to a fine powder. It is used to season all kinds of dishes.

Milcaos – grated raw potato squeezed until dry then added to minced cooked potatoes and flattened to a bread-like form then baked or fried. This is one of the ingredients that can be found in a typical curanto.

Milcao: The dish is a type of potato pancake prepared with raw grated potatoes and cooked mashed potatoes mixed with other ingredients.

Niños envueltos (literally, “wrapped children”): This peculiarly-named dish contains vegetables and other ingredients wrapped in thin sliced beef.

Ostiones a la Parmesana – scallops on the shells in melted butter and covered with grilled Parmesan cheese.

Pantrucas: a type of dumpling or pasta made without eggs, cut in irregular pieces and later mixed with vegetable soup or beef stock.

Palta Reina – an avocado half which is filled with tuna fish or ham and covered with mayonnaise. It is served on lettuce leaves, normally as an entree.

Pan Amasado: a traditional type of bread, which has animal fat in it. It is kneaded for a long time to achieve a very dense type of bread

Parrillada – different kinds of meat, sausages and sometimes entrails grilled over charcoal and served with potato salad or rice.

Pastel de Choclo – a typical Chilean summer dish. Ground corn and meat, chopped onions small pieces of chicken, pieces of hard boiled egg, olive raisins – baked in clay or regular oven. Similar to a shepherd pie.

Pastel de choclo: a layered pie, usually made in a deep dish or a clay paila with chopped beef at the bottom prepared “al pino” (a thick stew of minced or chopped beef, chopped onions and seasoning), chicken, olives and a hard-boiled egg, topped with a mixture of ground fresh corn and basil, and baked in the oven.

Pastel de Jaiba – Chilean Crab Pie served in its own shell.

Pastel de papa: a pie made in layers, with minced beef in the bottom and mashed potatoes on top, similar to the English Cottage pie.

Patas de Chancho Rebozadas: Pork feet boiled with herbs, accompanied by pebre and bread.

Pebre – seasoning of tomatoes with chopped onion, chili, coriander, and chives. Usually served in a little clay dish.

Pernil – boiled whole hock (ham).

Pernil con papas cocidas: Roasted pork leg with boiled potatoes, and usually accompanied by sauerkraut.

Picante de conejo, cow stomach or chicken: Spicy dish of vegetables fried and stewed with meat of rabbit, chicken, or cow stomach. Hand crushed potatoes are added at the end.

Piure – Sea Squirts that are a dark red colour and with a very distinct strong flavour. Often eaten with diced onion, coriander and lemon. Best eaten near Chiloé.

Plateada con Quinoa: Literally “silver plated”. A cut of beef known in English as “Rib Cap” is cooked with quinoa, onions, garlic and white wine.

Pollo al Cognac: Chicken stew slowly cooked with plenty of cognac and white wine.

Pollo Arvejado – Chicken served with peas, onion and sliced carrots.

Porotos Granados – fresh bean dish with ground corn and pieces of pumpkin served hot.

Porotos granados: a stew of fresh white beans, ground choclo and other vegetables.

Prietas – Blood sausages.

Pulmay: A kind of curanto, cooked in a big casserole dish instead of a hole.

Risotto de quinoa y pimientos amarillos: Quinoa risotto with yellow peppers.

Sango: A kind of bread made from wheat flour cooked with oil and salt; served with Chicharrones

Sopa chilota de pescado seco: Dried fish soup.

Sopa de Ostras: Oyster soup

Sopaipilla – a flat circular deep fried ‘bread’ made of pumpkin and flour.

Tapapecho a la cacerola: Tapapecho casserole, similar to spare ribs; also known as Pescetto.

Timbal de quinoa: A mix of quinoa, avocado and other ingredients; served shaped like atimbal drum.

Tomates rellenos: Stuffed tomatoes, generally filled with sweetcorn, mayonnaise, and other ingredients.

Tomaticán: a thick vegetable stew, similar to Charquican but with tomatoes.

Tortilla de mariscos: A kind of omelette of beaten eggs fried with seafood and chorizo, similar to prawn tortilla from Spain.

Valdiviano: One of the oldest dishes in Chilean cuisine and named after the conquistador Pedro de Valdivia, this soup made of jerky, onions and potatoes was one of the dishes eaten by the conquering Spanish troops.

Chilean Sandwiches

Aliado – ham and cheese sandwich.

Ave Mayo – diced chicken meat and mayonnaise.

Ave Palta – diced chicken meat and mashed avocado.

Ave Pimienta – diced chicken meat and red pepper.

Barros Jarpa – grilled cheese and ham on white bun.

Barros Luco – grilled cheese and meat on white bread.

Chacarero – sliced meat, green beans, chili and tomatoes.

Churrasco – beef sandwich.

Churrasco con Tomate – thin sliced meat and slices of tomato on white bun.

Churrasco con Palta – thin sliced meat, mashed avocado on white bun.

Completo – hot dog with all kinds of trimmings: mayonnaise, tomatoes, onions, dilled pickles sauerkraut, etc.

Especial – hot dog with tomatoes.

Italiano – hot dog with avocado, tomatoes and mayonnaise.

Hamburguesa – hamburger patty. It isn’t always served between buns.

Lomito Completo – sliced pork meat with sauerkraut, mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup.

Pan Amasado – homemade bread.

Piñera Sandwich – Salmon, Arugula (rocket) and cream cheese.

Chilean Desserts (and sweet things)

Alfajor – a flat round pastry (almos like two biscuits together) filled with manjar and covered in Chocolate

Arroz con Leche – Rice pudding (literally rice with milk)

Bavarois de Lucuma – bavarois (type of custard) of a variety of eggfruit

Berlin – a round donut filled with manjar or jam / jelly

Brazo de Reina: a classic Swiss Roll, usually filled with strawberry jam, raspberry jam or manjar (Chilean dulce de leche), and topped with chocolate swirls or icing sugar.

Calzones Rotos – literally translated as “broken underwear”, it is a sweet, soft dough that is twisted and then fried. Sometimes icing sugar is sprinkled on top.

Chumbeque – A traditional sweet from Iquique.

Kuchen – a German fruit flan often found in the South of Chile

Leche Asada – A milk flan. A baked milk dessert with caramel, similar to the original panna cotta made with eggs instead of gelatine, as it is made in most places today.

Manjar – a brown spread or cake filling made from boiled milk and sugar. Some visitors say it tastes like caramel. Manjar is quite sweet and is used in many cakes and sweet dishes.

Mote con Huesillo – cooked dried peaches and stewed corn or wheat served as a drink

Pan de Pascua – similar to a sweet sponge cake flavoured with ginger, cinnamon, liquor and honey. It usually contains candied fruits, raisins, walnuts and almonds.

Papaya con Crema – preserved papaya with whipped cream.

Sopaipillas Pasadas – sopaipillas are immersed in a warm sauce that contains water, dark brown sugar, cinnamon and orange rind.

Tortilla de rescoldo: a traditional Chilean unleavened bread prepared by rural travellers. It consists of a wheat flour based bread, traditionally baked in the coals of a campfire.