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Ten food and drink items you can only try in Chile

Photography: Turismo Chile


Borrowing from its blended culture of indigenous, Hispanic, and European influences, Chilean gastronomy has become one of the most interesting culinary scenes on the continent. Utilizing fresh local produce like avocados and corn, plentiful seafood from its 4,270 km (2,653 mi) coastline, and native flavors like maqui berry or cacho de cabra (goat horn) chiles, Chilean have produced a huge variety of unique dishes that highlight the flavors of each region, but there are some classics that are beloved the whole country over. Here’s just ten examples of the best Chilean food and drink that you need to try when visiting Chile!


Sourche: www.expressdelider.cl


1. Mote con huesillo – This strange looking but a refreshing drink is summer in a cup for Chileans! Meaning “wheat with peaches”, it’s part liquid, part solid. The liquid part is dehydrated peaches brewed with a sweet, “nectar” type mixture of water, cinnamon, and sugar. Then, when this has cooled, add a ladle of the liquid and one of the peaches to a plastic cup filled with cooked husked wheat kernels. Sugary sweet and a great drink for all ages, a popular place to enjoy this beverage is at the top of Cerro Santa Lucia in Santiago.


Source: www.enmicocinahoy.cl


2. Marraqueta bread – In Chile, fresh bread is a daily part of life. Either in the morning or before going home from work, Chileans will head to their neighborhood “panaderia” to stock up on bread for the night and next day, and the most popular kind of bread in Chile is the marraqueta. Super easy to make and share due to their shape, marraquetas are great for making sandwiches or enjoying with butter or avocado at Chilean “once” (teatime), an evening tradition where, instead of dinner, Chilean families gather around the table to eat bread and sweets and drink tea while talking about their day.


Source: www.chakula.cl


3. Sopaipillas – A classic street food throughout Chile, sopaipillas are small disks of Andean pumpkin mixed with flour and fried in hot oil. Just a single one will set you back about 200 Chilean pesos (roughly 30 cents USD) and you can top it off with ketchup, mustard, or pebre, a Chilean version of pico de gallo. During the winter, you can also soak them in a sweet syrup to make “sopaipillas pasadas”, which is a tasty breakfast treat or can be eaten for dessert!


Photography: Urban Adventure


4. Cazuela – Cazuela is to soup in Chile as chicken noodle soup is to soup in the States: it’s a classic and everyone has their own way of preparing it. Cazuela can be made with several different kinds of meat, such as different kinds of seafood, but beef or chicken are the most common. The meat of your choice, chunks of potatoes, carrots, and other veggies are added to a simmering broth, cooked until done, and then everyone gets to pick and choose what kinds of vegetables and meat they want for their individual serving. Cazuela can be eaten the whole year round but is especially popular in fall and winter.


Source: www.mundodedulcinea.cl


5. Pastel de jaiba – The waters of southern Chile are literally crawling with gigantic king crab, which is the main ingredient of this gut-busting crab pie. King crab meat is mixed with cheese, bread, and cream before being baked to gooey perfection.


Source: www.seriouseats.com


6. Chacarero – If there’s one thing Chileans know, it’s how to make a good sandwich and the Chacarero is one of the best. This behemoth was named one of the most amazing sandwiches in the world by TIME Magazine and it’s easy to see why. A huge piece of Chilean bread is cut in half, covered in homemade mayo and any other condiments you desire, and then piled high with thin, sizzling slices of steak or pork, sliced tomatoes, pieces of chile pepper, and then (wait for it) a heap of green beans! The green bean addition is what deters most visitors, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!


Source: www.viax.cl


7. Chorrillana – Chileans love to party, and when the fun is done, you need something to soak up all that alcohol. Chorrillana is the ultimate drunk food: a plate of greasy french fries topped with sliced hot dog, slabs of beef, fried onion, and sunny-side up eggs. Share with a few friends and you have the perfect end to a great night out on the town!


Source: www.patagoniapordescubrir.com


8. Patagonian asado – If you’re planning on visiting Patagonia or Torres del Paine during your visit to Chile, you need to make time to partake of an authentic Patagonia asado (barbecue). In the past, the wilderness of Patagonia was colonized and presided over by baqueanos, the local version of cowboys. But instead of cattle, they herded sheep, whose wool was prized back in Europe. During the long stretches of time spent at their ranches or while out in the fields, they created the Patagonian asado, which is butterflying a lamb over an open fire, cooking it for about three hours and moistening it with a mixture of warm water, salt, and garlic, until the meat is tender and juicy. Top it off with a glass of Chilean red wine under the Patagonian stars and you have the recipe for an unforgettable barbecue!


Source: www.nuevamujer.com


9. Curanto – The preparation of this dish, which is native to the Chiloe archipelago in the south of the country, is similar to a traditional clambake. After filling a hole with hot stones that have been heated in a fire, the hole is filled with clams, mussels, sausage, chicken, potatoes, milcao (a type of potato patty), and veggies, which are then covered with large nalca leaves and left to bake for several hours. When the dish is done cooking, the leaves are removed and everyone gets to enjoy this delicious Chilote smorgasbord!


Source: www.enmicocinahoy.cl


10. Pastel de choclo – Corn is a key part of the Chilean diet, so of course one of their most famous and popular dishes is a corn pie! Similar to the English “corn pudding”, the corn is ground into a paste and mixed with seasoning, before being baked in a clay bowl that’s filled with ground beef, chicken, pieces of hard-boiled egg, onions, and black olives. The result is a cozy, homestyle dish that’s great for cold winter days.

15 fun facts that you didn’t know about Chile

Of the best parts of traveling and going to new places is learning all about what makes each place special and unique, and the same is definitely true of Chile, and there are some interesting things to know about the country that may surprise you. Here’s 15 fun facts that you didn’t know about Chile!

1.Chile has the world’s largest swimming pool! Found in the coastal city of Algarrobo, the pool is the length of 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools and holds 66 million gallons, making it a Guinness World Record Holder.

Photography: Camera Press


2. At 4,270 km (2,653 mi), Chile is the second longest country in the world, only narrowly being beat out by Brazil, which is 95 kilometers longer.

Source: www.urcelay.cl


3. Chile has the southernmost town in the world, Puerto Williams, although some people argue that since Puerto Williams is on an island and not the mainland, Ushuaia, Argentina should hold the title of southernmost town.


4. The oldest mummies in the world were found in Chile. Known as the Chinchorro mummies, the mummified remains of individuals from the ancient Chinchorro tribe of the Atacama desert have been dated to be from between 5050 and 3000 BC,  meaning that people in the Atacama were mummifying their dead up to two thousand years before the Egyptians!

Source: www.chileantesdechile.cl


5. Chile is home to the tallest building in South America, the Costanera Gran Torre. Located in Santiago, the Torre has 64 floors and has two observation decks on the top two floors that offer jaw-dropping views of the city and the surrounding Andes Cordillera.

Source: Missionary Delivery


6. The Atacama Desert, which is located in the north of the country, is the driest desert on Earth, with an average annual rainfall of only 0.6 inches a year.


7. Scientists have used the harsh conditions of the Atacama to test Mars rovers, as the desert terrain and volatile conditions are believed to mimic those found on Mars.

Source: eso.org


8. It is believed that 90% of the world’s potatoes originate from the islands of Chiloe off the coast of the Lakes District! Even today, the islands are home to 286 unique varieties of Chilote potatoes.

Source: Concha y Toro


9. Chile is one of the only governments in the world with an official department dedicated to research into UFOs (yes, as in the alien kind). Talk about close encounters of the Chilean kind!

10. Stories from Chile have helped inspire some of the great books and characters of classic literature. In “The Tempest”, it’s believed that Shakespeare based the character of Caliban on descriptions and tales of the natives living in Tierra del Fuego. The Essex, the whaling ship that inspired Melville to write his epic, “Moby Dick,” was sunk by a whale while off the coast of Chile, and the survivors were taken to the city of Valparaiso. Finally, “Robinson Crusoe” was based on the story of Alexander Selkirk, a Scottish sailor who spent four years stranded on the Juan Fernandez islands.

11. The largest earthquake ever recorded occurred in Valdivia in 1960, registering at a 9.5 and killing aroundly 1,000 people.

Source: Npr.org


12. Even though they look very similar, the flag of Chile is 21 years older than the flag of Texas in the US, which uses a similar color scheme. On the Chilean flag, the colors and symbols symbolize:  blue – the sky and the Pacific Ocean; white – the snow of the Andes Mountains; the star – guidance and progress; and red – the blood spilled in the fight for independence.

Source: www.observador.cl

13. The alerce tree of southern Chile can live to be up to 4,000 years old!

14. Chile is the world’s 4th largest exporter of wine!

15. Where did the name “Chile” come from? Some say that the word may have come from the indigenous Mapuche word “chili,” meaning “where the land ends”, or that it could also be based on the imitation of a native bird call that sounds like “cheele cheele.”



10 Reasons to visit the Atacama Desert in low season

With its stark mountains, sprawling salt flats, clear high-altitude lakes, and centuries-old cultures, the Atacama desert is one of Chile’s top tourist destinations, especially during the summer months of December through March when the heat and long days make it easy to explore and get to know the area through hiking or cycling. Most people choose to stay in the town of San Pedro de Atacama because of its proximity to all the most popular sites like the Chaxa Lagoon, the Atacama Salt Flats, the Tatio Geyser Field, and Valle de la Luna. But all those lunar valleys and dry desert plains are just as magical in the winter, and there are even several added benefits to going to the Atacama in winter instead of summer. Here are ten reasons why you should visit the Atacama in low season!


1. See snowfall in the high desert – It doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does, it’s magical! Throughout the year, places in the Atacama like the Valle de la Luna and the salt flats may look like they’re covered in snow, but those white patches seen amongst boulders or sprawled over the desert plains are actually just salt. Which is why when snow does sometimes fall during winter, it makes the Atacama’s Martian landscapes look even more enchanting and otherworldly, especially when it falls on the high mountains and volcanoes like Lincancabur. Snow angels in the world’s driest desert, anyone?


2. Good winter weather – While nighttime in the Atacama does get a bit brisk (around 28 degrees Fahrenheit on average), most of the days are still sunny and clear with average highs in the 70s, allowing for days full of adventure and exploring instead of being stuck inside. But do bring along a windbreaker or a warm jacket: the winter winds are definitely chilly!


3. Fewer crowds – Traveling during low season always brings the added bonus that there will be much fewer tourists around, which can make visiting sites like the Tatio Geysers or Chaxa Lagoon a much more peaceful experience, allowing you to actually enjoy the places and their wildlife without jostling crowds, constant noise and interruptions, and long lines.


4. Excellent opportunities to see wildlife – With less people around to scare off wildlife, winter is a great time to see the creatures who call this high-altitude land home, like vicunas (a wild relative of the llama), grey foxes, viscachas (relatives of the chinchilla), flamingos, and much more.


5. It’s the BEST time for stargazing – Stargazing in the Atacama is incredible year round, but the winter months are when the night sky is at its clearest, allowing you to see the Milky Way as you’ve never seen it before. On moonless nights, just driving a short way out of town will yield incredible views of our galaxy stretched across the night sky in all its glory. Definitely be sure to do a stargazing and astronomy tour during your stay: local astronomers will tell you about the night sky in the Southern Hemisphere, pointing out constellations and planets, using telescopes so you can see these celestial bodies a bit more up close.


6. Going to the geysers in the morning will be amazing – A must-do day trip while in the Atacama is visiting the Tatio Geyser Field, which is the higher geyser field in the world. The best time to go is in the early morning when the heat rising from the geysers and fumaroles hits the cold air, producing huge clouds of steam that shroud the entire site. Now imagine how spectacular that morning show of clouds and steam would be in the winter?! And don’t worry: we bring along breakfast with hot drinks to warm you up while you’re admiring the geysers.

Photography: Diego Maia


7. Escape the cold at the Puritama hot springs – What goes better together than going to the hot springs in winter? Not much! Just a short drive from San Pedro de Atacama, the Puritama hot springs is a series of eight geothermal pools sheltered by desert grasses in a small valley. The springs have been used for centuries by the Atacameno people, who believed that the waters had healing capabilities. Even to this day, it’s said that the sodium sulphate waters can help with ailments like arthritis and rheumatism. But either way, it’s a wonderful, secluded place to spend an afternoon or morning in the winter, going from pool to pool to enjoy the warm waters and emerge feeling relaxed and refreshed.

Photography: Tuanh Nguyen


8. Do a cold plunge in Laguna Cejar – After heating up at the Puritama hot springs, cool down with a polar plunge! Located in the Atacama salt flats, the Cejar Lagoon is a sinkhole lake with a high salt concentration in the water, meaning that you can’t sink when you get it; you just float, weightless. Many people who visit the Atacama love to spend an afternoon relaxing here to escape the heat, but in winter, the site will have less visitors and while it may not be fun for wiling away an afternoon, jumping into a saltwater lake in the Atacama in winter will be an experience you’re bound to never forget!


Photography: Rodrigo Viera Soares


9. Take advantage of the low-season rates – As always, one of the best benefits of going on vacation somewhere during low season is that, with the crowds gone, hotels and tour operators will have reduced rates. The Atacama is definitely not a very expensive destination, but nor is it the cheapest, since it is pretty isolated. The summer months see the bulk of tourism in the Atacama and is when most hotels and tours will be at their most expensive, so if you choose to travel during winter, you’ll walk away having saved a decent chunk of change on everything from accommodations to tours.


10. Enjoy the tastes of the Atacama – Although you can find standard Chilean cuisine in the Atacama as well, there are dishes and tastes here that are very unique to the region. After a long day exploring, unwind with a rica-rica sour: a local take on the pisco sour but made with the rica rica, an indigenous herb that has a minty flavor to it. A wonderful dish for winter is patasca, which is made with beef, corn, tomatoes, and onions, and can be found at restaurants all over the region and in San Pedro (locals swear by Las Delicias de Carmen for the best in town). And, since you’re in the Atacama, you have to have a taste of llama: the historic village of Machuca, found en route to the Tatio Geyser fields, is famous for their delicious llama skewers. Llamas are adorable, but (sadly) they are also quite yummy!

Photography: Fonda de Solor