Since David left for South America, I’ve been curious about the country he’ll be living in for the next two years. The Republic of Chile is one of South America‘s most prosperous countries. Located along the southwestern coast of South America between Peru and Argentina, Chile stretches 2,653 miles long and only 109 miles wide.
But let’s put geography and history aside for now and focus out what’s really important. What are some of the traditional foods in Chile and what might Elder Archuleta be eating while on his mission?
Chile is a multi-ethnic society and Chilean food is a combination of Spanish and Indian food with strong Italian, German, Croatian, French and Middle Eastern influences, truly a varied menu. Between two mountain ranges in Chile there is a valley where agriculture grows like olives, potatoes, pumpkin and maize.
One of the highlights of Chilean cuisine is it’s seafood. The list of seafood in Chile seems endless with tuna, squid, sole and salmon in abundance. Lobsters are freely available as are oysters and eels.
David Archuleta @DavidArchie
From David: Having cocimiento (some kind of broth with pollo, chuleta, y mariscos) for my first time. (thought u would like a food tweet ks)
What is cocimiento?
Cocimiento – Chicken, pork, seafood (with shell) and vegetables are sautéed in a pan to which potatoes in skins are added and cooked for about an hour. Wine is added to this and steamed over low heat for another hour creating a poultry, pork and seafood stew.
Has Elder Archuleta tried any of these other traditional Chilean dishes?
Caldillo de Congrio is another dish similar to cocimiento but it contains only seafood; no chicken or pork. It’s a stew made with eel, onions, potatoes and carrots. Eels can be difficult to find outside of Chile so any firm white fish is acceptable. Eel is usually deep fried in Chile or served steaming hot in a clay dish, with some mussels and clams.
Care for some deep fried eel?
Empanadas (little pies or turnovers with filling) are popular in all of Latin America, either fried or baked. I’ve had them here in the states from an Argentinean bakery and they are delicious. They’re also handy to take on picnics or for a quick lunch or snack. Empanada de Pino is the traditional empanada in Chile, filled with ground meat, onions, olives and raisins and then baked in an oven. Sometimes slices of hard boiled eggs are inside them, too.
Ensalada a la Chilena is a very simple salad using sliced ripe tomatoes and thinly sliced onions with an oil dressing. The term “salad” in Chile is a generic term for any fresh vegetable, raw or cooked, served cold as an accompaniment to a meal. Because it goes with any meal, salad is a staple on every Chilean table.
Humitas are mashed seasoned corn wrapped in cornhusks and then steamed. They are a traditional Chilean dish that resemble tamales from Mexico. The corn used in Chile is called choclo and isn’t very sweet. Where tamales or other countries’ versions are often spicy, Chilean humitas are very basic and plain. Humitas are served in the corn husk. Sometimes the humita is still wrapped tightly with some string that was used to hold it together for cooking. To eat the humita, untie the string and unwrap the husk. Don’t eat the corn husk! Humitas are typically served with the tomato and onion Chilean salad.
Parrillada is similar to a barbeque in the U.S., using different kinds of meat, sausages and poultry, cooked slowly over charcoal. It’s served with potatoes, salad or rice. Commonly served with Pebre, a Chilean spicy herbal sauce made from chopped onions, coriander, extra virgin olive oil, fresh garlic and ground chili peppers. Pebre must be scooped up with a spoon, so as not to lose the taste of any of the ingredients.
Pastel de Choclo is a casserole made with beef, sautéed with onions, chicken and olives, pieces of hard boiled eggs and ground corn, and then baked to make this beloved comfort food that is usually eaten in the summer.
I found mucho delicioso Chilean desserts of which I hope Elder Archuleta will partake. The Germans and Austrians brought tasty dessert treats with them when they migrated to the south of Chile in the nineteenth century.
Kuchen is a fluffy fruit flan pie of German origin, similar to a cheese cake but lighter and not as rich.
Leche Asada is milk flan or baked custard.
Chilean-style sopaipillas are deep-fried round pumpkin fritters drenched in a brown sugar syrup. Sold throughout the country by street vendors, they are usually served for breakfast, piping hot with coffee. They typically measure 4-inches wide, although many restaurants now serve smaller 2-inch versions.
Next installment: Music in Chile