Adventuring Abroad: Good Eats...
Due to popular demand, I’m dedicating this article to everything food.
However, I’m still trying to decide how I want to go about this, even while I type. As I mentioned in a previous story, Chilean food is nearly undefinable. The best way to approach it is without expectation.
Don’t expect it to resemble Mexican cuisine because it doesn’t. Don’t expect it to be all seafood because it isn’t. Don’t expect to have a European dining experience because you won’t.
While Chilean food is certainly influenced by all of the above flavors, its very own flavors and combinations are incorporated into the cooking here as well.
I think the best way to try to define Chilean food is to simply describe a few traditional dishes that I’ve had so far, and thereby give you a “taste” for what dining is all about down here.
This filling dish has a similar concept to chicken cordon bleu. Escalopa is bread crumb-encrusted chicken breast stuffed with ham, queso (melted cheese) and beef. While the concept may be similar to that of chicken cordon bleu, the taste is entirely different. The taste of Chilean escalopa is that of hardy, gamey meat combined with the smooth richness of the warm (usually served at a-bit-too-warm-to-eat-right-away temperature) queso harmonizes together just perfectly enough to give every bite of Chilean escalopa a warm, inviting taste.
- Café Helado
This one is tough to write about because it’s one of my favorite Chilean dishes, but I’m not sure if it’s a drink or a dessert; or perhaps it’s an intertwined mixture of the two! Café helado is literally a scoop of ice cream in a glass of cold coffee, and it’s the best desert-drink I’ve ever put into my mouth. Put in more sophisticated terms, café helado is made by pouring a milk/coffee mixture over a scoop (or two) or vanilla ice cream and then topping the concoction off with a generous helping of whipped cream and just a dash of cinnamon sprinkled atop.
(WARNING: USUALLY BOTH A SPOON AND A STRAW IS REQUIRED FOR CONSUMPTION!)
- Pastel de Choclo
A bit of translation is required in order to explain this dish. “Pastel” means cake or loaf, and “choclo” does not mean chocolate, as is the common assumption; it means corn. Pastel de choclo is prepared much like a personal meat pie is, with a few major differences. The dough is made of a combination of corn and sugar, and the ingredients within the “loaf” are egg, olives, chicken and beef. The sweetness and gooeyness of the corn dough is offset by the savory flavors in the meats and olives. The memory of breaking through that top layer of crust with my spoon and smelling the aromatic steam rising up out of the bowl makes my mouth water, even now.
I hope this at least gave you a little more insight into Chilean cuisine than you previously had.
Please feel free to comment below if there are any specific questions you’d like me to find the answers to regarding Chilean food, or anything Chilean, really!