While there are a number of great reasons to visit the beautiful South American country of Chile, one of them has to be the delicious cuisine. From fresh salsas, humitas and empanadas to hearty casseroles, exotic tropical fruit and succulent seafood caught fresh on the day, Chilean cooking is an experience not to be missed.
Fusing European influences with indigenous traditions, this Spanish-speaking country boasts a rich culinary heritage, with a distinctive cuisine of its own, as well as an array of excellent wines — a perfect accompaniment to any dish. Simple, hearty dishes are prepared in traditional ways with seasonal ingredients and flavours speaking for themselves. And dining out doesn’t have to cost you a fortune — small traditional picadas and fast-food fuentes de soda serve an array of delicious local dishes at very affordable prices, so you can feast for a good fare.
Foreign menus can be quite daunting, so here are a few guidelines on local Chilean cuisine, tastes and flavours to look out for and most definitely try!
Usually caught fresh on the day, seafood features in many Chilean dishes, such as thick soups and stews, which are packed with mussels, clams and a variety of fish. Be sure to try some dishes that are unique to Chile — the Centolla is a large, sweet crab from the far south and is absolutely delicious, while the locos, a meaty, white shellfish that is served with mayo or a squeeze fresh lemon, has an intense flavour that is not for everyone.
One cannot visit Chile without trying an empanada. Stuffed with pino (a delectable mixture of meat, onion, olive and boiled egg), cheese or vegetables, these traditional snacks are washed with egg and baked in an oven for a crispy, golden brown finish. Perfect as a midnight snack after a night out.
Back to basics, this simple condiment of finely chopped tomatoes, onions, cilantro and spicy ají (red pepper paste) is served with every meal. Caldo de Pata is another delicious dish not for the faint-hearted or animal-lovers, this warming soup is a clear broth mixed with some vegetables and pigs feet. This is a Chilean staple and can be found at most markets.
While Chilean fare tends to be fairly meat-heavy, this enticing dish is purely vegetarian — a thick, savoury stew of white beans, corn, vegetables and basil.
Sweet tooths will delight with these fried disks of pumpkin dough, sprinkled pebre and mustard. Found on every corner, these tasty morsels are best homemade.