Santiago de Chile
In conversation with Álvaro Lois, a renowned chef in the capital city, he singled out the major characteristics of Chile when it comes to food. “Being such a long and narrow territory, the products vary according to the nature, climate, microclimates and specific conditions of the land in each small area”.
When asked about the most traditional dishes, Lois explains that Chilean cuisine is varied and flavorful, and mostly based on seafood. Dishes are loaded with fish and shellfish and prepared on a sauté – onions, garlic, peppers, oregano and salt, cooked in oil or pork butter – which brings a special flavor to any casserole dish, stock or preparation. While in Santiago de Chile visitors shouldn’t miss: Parmesan Machas, Pisco Sour, all types of empanadas, and in summer, sweet corn pie and humita.
Our second stop on the itinerary is Valparaíso, where the celebrated Chef Carlos Mardones describes the local food as consisting of assorted flavors and ingredients, given the area’s mostly English and French immigration background. He particularly recommends that travelers tour the markets -where they will find the most popular dishes-, the “caletas”-for their eateries and fresh seafood-, as well as the international restaurants and sandwich bars in the city.
More ideas? Juan Fernández’s fish with locos sauce and mote de trigo, or cured Huachalomo cooked on coals and served with corn custard, are among the best choices while staying in Valparaíso, according to our guest chef.
Pan con Chancho (bread with pork)? That’s right. That will be our main star while in Puerto Varas, where, as suggested by our guest Chef Gustavo Sandoval Rivas, flavor and the simplicity of the preparations come first.
Pan con Chancho is a popular sandwich bar where the Southern local flavors stand out. Simple dishes, somehow fast-food like, though with a regional cuisine approach.
When describing Puerto Varas’s cuisine, Sandoval Rivas points out its great diversity, the importance of the local or classic dishes, as well as the German influence reflected along the lake basin with the confectionery, beer and cold cuts. To visitors he recommends drinking good local beer and savoring kuchen, caldo criaturero (stock), some tasty pork stew in black beer, as well as sampling and taking back home some cold cuts.
We will make our next stop in the company of Chef and Entrepreneur Alex Guerrero, who, from Puerto Natales, explains how the great diversity of local products and the variety of techniques brought in by the European immigrants have contributed to shape such a unique cuisine in this area. “This an ideal place to come close to the local cuisine in a different, practical and special way”, suggests Guerrero. What does he recommend? Visiting Factoría Patagónica and tasting hare tenderloin in
San Pedro de Atacama
Accompanied by Chef Rodrigo Acuña, we travel further north to discover the great wealth of the regional cuisine. “The cuisine of San Pedro de Atacama is closely linked to its tourism. We try to showcase our classic dishes, such as the sweet corn pie, empanadas and Chilean salad, all with some regional hints in terms of the ingredients used”.
The fresh, local and seasonal ingredients speak of the great assortment of flavors. Among the many options that visitors must taste while in Atacama are: the Rica Rica, the Muña Muña (both of them native herbs in the area) and some mouth-watering regional empanadas.
To close this “culinary tour” today, we have chosen this idyllic and mystic island, a fabulous destination offering unique characteristics loaded with culture, history and great beauty. And when it comes to its food, there is no exception. We talked to Ruti Pakomio, a local chef who, from her Tataku Vave restaurant, invites adventurers to travel “through their palates”.
Ruti describes the cuisine of the island as “naturally Rapa Nui”, one that brings together the ocean, the land and the air. The chef’s recommendations for those visiting this paradise are the Rapa Nui ceviche, Jardín del Mar (sea garden), Ura Mara, Heke and Rape Rape, or the fish caldillo.
In the last few years, vegetarian food has been enjoying a spectacular boom in the country. Guided by Chef Fabián Figueroa we will take a brief tour through the most iconic flavors.
According to Figueroa, vegetarian dishes have been present in the Chilean cuisine for a long time, with options like stewed legumes in winter and humitas in summertime. “The essence of my culinary project is plant-based food, showing awareness of and respect for the environment”.
Some of the most outstanding and popular dishes recommended by Figueroa include: porotos granados (beans) with tomato salad, Bao Berlín, which is a personalized version of the classic Asian steamed buns, filled with seitan stew and coleslaw; the risotto with burned beetroot and black truffle (of intense earthy taste) or the cauliflower ice cream with savory toffee, whipped coconut cream and sesame crumble.