Tuesday, December 2, 2008

a glass half full

Happy very belated Thanksgiving blogland! I hope that everyone had an absolutely wonderful holiday, I know I definitely missed the feast and family gathering but if nothing else, a trip to the enchanting south of Chile was definitely an ideal replacement. I had an glorious time. Every time I leave Santiago it amazes me of how much more there is to Chile; the people, the land, the culture, each place I've gone has been a unique experience, one that makes it harder and harder to imagine leaving and never coming back. I really hope that one day in the future I will.
I'm going to work my way backwards through all the Chilotan food that I ate in the past week. Although we did a lot of trekking and sight-seeing, my professor let us know from the beginning that... "this is not one of those trips you're going to lose weight on." Ha, she's an honest woman! We ate a lot and it was delicious yet most of the time not that healthy. So be it! I tried my best to get as many veggies in as possible when I could. Here's my vegetarian sandwich from lunch yesterday, tomato, spinach, lettuce, onion, asparagus, and avocado. Of course, such a light fare wasn't complete without a hearty drink! We were in Fruitillar, one of the many German town in the southern Chile. FYI- In the late 1800s the Chilean government gave them incentives to settle the land there and since then their culture has really been preserved in this nooks of South American. It's quite incredible. The café we were at made their own beer, I got the rubia. It was great, not too yeasty nor too dark, just right. Experiencing culture is fun ;). Earlier that morning after a bus ride from Puerto Montt, we were hungry for a good brunch and lucky for us, stumbled upon an adorable German bed and breakfast-like place. First we were served an extra special Chilean breakfast with scrambled eggs, pan amasado, butter, jam, honey, ham, and cheese. Paired, much to my excitement, with a REAL cup of coffee and steamed milk.

But that's not all folks, oh no, we were then each greeted with a German breakfast pastry or kuchen. From top to bottom: made with peaches, marmalade and manjar, and apples. They were all delectable but the little sweet tooth I have doesn't usually hit until mid-afternoon so I only had a forkful of each. Enough to get a yummy taste without having to worry about having dessert at 10 am, haha.
Saturday night we went for a nice dinner out with my professor's family. Her husband had lived in the Puerto Montt area in the past and knew of this great little Italian restaurant there. As soon as we sat, hungry as could be, we ordered a bottle of wonderful Chilean wine. Mmmm.

This was followed by the usual "bread" that was quite extraordinary. Similar to a pizza crust, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with a touch of rosemary it was heavenly! I was planning on only having a slice but then somehow another one snuck its way into my mouth part way through the meal. I'm blaming the wine ;).
I started with a fabulous salad! It had the usual Chilean Ensalada Surtida fix-ins: tomato, onions, cucumbers, spinach, lettuce, and palta (avocado) dressed in the ideal amount of oil and vinegar.

Afterwards, my friend and I split a plate of Salmon Carpaccio. Oh my, my, my was this gooood. The south of Chile is where most of the salmon farming takes place and really fresh salmon is like nothing else I've tasted. Amazing. I also managed to try some lasagna and Tortellinis con Locos (a Chilean shellfish). Great suggestion Pato!

Breakfast that day at the hostel was one of the best we had... plus, I thought I'd demonstrate the simplicity to a typical Chilean breakfast. It get's boring sometimes :/ but here we have bread, jam, butter, yogurt, tea, and Nescafé. Can't wait to indulge in some American brekkie favorites when I get back! Bring on the waffles!

Friday evening we went out in Castro for some real Curanto. It contained a sausage, baked potato, a chicken thigh, mussels, and clams and was served alongside the spicy and salty seafood broth that it was made in. It is traditionally prepared in a large hole in the ground on top of stones, heated with a bonfire, and covered with leaves...

... like these ones that my professor Beatríz so fashionably showed us during our day trip in Fruitillar. Large, durable, and flavorful too, or so she says. By the way, there's a whole lot of traveling pictures that I didn't include in the post based on the sheer fact that I don't have enough time or energy to download them all, hehe. If you'd like to check 'em out, here's my facebook album. The quality is a little less than usual since I wasn't able to use my camera but the views are still gorgeous!
The night before in Quellón we also tried a mixed dish, although this one wasn't so specific to Chiloé as it was to the entire Chilean country. Crazy that I haven't tried it yet. My professor explained it a food to pick on that a lot of Chilean students will order at a happy hour type event. It was a mix of sausages, hard-boiled eggs, french fries, and picked vegetables. Very interesting, a bit too salty and greasy, and not sure if I liked it so... obviously I got a salad too.
Speaking of salad, this one was the best one I had the whole trip. Along with the regulars it came with an old favorite of mine, baby corn! The only downside was the fact that I was supposedly missing out on the best sammies in the entire world. On our night to ourselves, my friends and I went to Isla Sandwich "the best little sandwich joint in Quellón" and I got a salad. Oh well, no regrets, if I had been hungry enough for a sandwich than I wouldn't have gotten the coffee & chocolate ice cream cone in Castro... and that would have been a real shame :). Our first meal in Castro was some good ol' Cazuela. This one was more flavorful than any of the ones I've shared with my host family. Why? Well, to start with the meat base was different. Lamb was definitely a nice replacement for the usual beef. Secondly, the stew is cooked in hog fat. Yes, fat. How gross, ha, and yet how scrumptious. For a one time thing, it was definitely worth it.
And, finally, my first plate of the trip... the Vegetarian Platter in Puerto Montt. Most restaurants have options like this one, both colorful and yummy, and most of the time I like to take advantage of it. Nevertheless, I am not disappointed with myself for allowing a little flexibility in my previous vegetarian habits. Like most of South America, the majority of traditional dishes are centered around meat and I certainly would have missed out had I refused to try and enjoy them.

Before getting back to my usual home cooked meals, I'd like to introduce you to the beautiful family that made this trip down South possible- Patricio, Beatríz (my professor) and the adorable gringita, Myra. This little one was born right down the street from my home university in the United States and is probably one of the most well-behaved babies I have ever met. Both of her parents studied in Syracuse for a few years working on their PhDs. They are so incredibly nice and intelligent and I'm so thankful to have been able to travel with them while learning first hand about the environmental politics and policy, their fortés.
As for now, I'm "home sweet home," at least as far as Chile is concerned. I have less than 48 hours to spend with my fabulous family and the food that they make me :). Goodbyes are never easy, my gosh, I would know! But I'm trying to stay optimistic and positive. This will not be the last time I see them, I'll make sure of it. Above all, just the sheer fact that I'm as upset as I am to leave and knowing that I'm going to miss them an obscene amount is proof of just how lucky I've been. This cultural transition from Chile to the U.S. to France and back to the U.S. again is the toughest thing I've ever tried to do and I couldn't appreciate the challenging opportunity more. I'm half way through and already so thankful. Hasta luego Santiago de Chile... France here I come!


  1. i'm so glad i found your blog! i'm a u.s. girl living in valparaiso, chile (met my pololo last april on vacation here, came back and married him) and i love seeing other gringa's perspectives on chile. especially health-seekers, as i'm trying to find a healthy lifestyle in this sea of mayonnaise and choripan.

    cheers, thanks for a great blog!

  2. jamie Kulovitz: Wow, I'm so glad you found my blog too! Welcome :) and thank you!


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