Chilean Cuisine

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007 at 12:00 am

empanadasChile is blessed with having an interesting mix of cuisine influences. It has evolved from a well-blended combination of Indian, Spanish, Italian, German as well as English cuisines. This interesting mix of cultural and cuisine influences paved the way for the development of that distinctive Chilean cuisine as it is known today.

Chileans love to eat. They normally eat four meals a day instead of the usual three. Breakfast is considered a light meal fare that typically consists of bread with butter coupled with either milk or coffee. Lunch is considered the main meal of the day. On a typical Chilean lunch, two main dishes are usually served.

The first course may be composed of a salad of vegetables, a mix of sliced onions, tomatoes, with a dressing of oil and vinegar topped with fresh cilantro. The second dish usually consists of beef or chicken followed by another round of vegetables. Then the next meal for the day is taken at around 5 o’clock in the afternoon.

Chileans call it "once", which means eleven. This light meal may consist of afternoon tea or coffee accompanied with bread and jam or cheese. The next meal consists of dinner, taken at around 9 o’clock in the evening, which consists of a single dish accompanied with wine that is a typical produce in various Central Valley vineyards.

Some of the most well-known Chilean cuisine also has some hints of Indian influence. Characteristic ingredients for such dishes usually include corn, squash and beans. Spanish influenced dishes usually contain healthy doses of spices such as onion and garlic.

Since Chile is blessed with a wide coastline, one of the most popular of Chilean dishes are of the seafood kind. Traditional seafood dishes usually are composed of locos (abalone), machas (razor clams), erizos (large sea urchins), and cochayuyo (seaweed).

On special occasions, Chileans try to enjoy some of their more traditional foods such as empanadas, a Spanish pastry stuffed with either meat, cheese or seafood. A second traditional dish usually consumed on special occasions include pastel de choclo which is a white corn and beef casserole topped with sugar.

Barbecues, also called "parrilladas" are usually the traditional practice on special occasions. Large quantities of local wine such as chicha, or fermented apple brew, and pisco, which is grape brandy usually accompany the celebrations.