There is a saying which is told to the people who comes back from a trip: “Keep the things that you ate and drank as a secret; just tell us what you saw.” Well, I will do the opposite! I have been eating and drinking really delicious and different things in Chile and I will start to share them with you, in this part you will find the basics like fruits, vegetables and bread.
Let me start with the foods which I didn’t even know that they exist! (Well, I am writing as a person who lived most of her time in Eurasia.) When I went to the supermarket and to the local market the first time , I spent a lot time at fruits and vegetables section. Chile doesn’t have a lot of tropical fruits, but it is still quite different than what I am used to in general. First thing first, they have tasty and abundant avocado production. What surprised me were the types of avocado that they have. The only avocado type that I knew was Hass (sorry for my ignorance). There is one type actually native Chilean and they call it “Negra de La Cruz”. It is like a half size of a Hass avocado and its skin is smooth and really thin, almost you can peel it as easy as a tomato. The taste not so different, but inside you might come up to black fibers.
Another typical fruit is the Chilean papaya (Vasconcellea pubescens), which is smaller than a normal papaya and has a concentrated flavor. You cannot eat it raw since it is quite firm so they usually boil it and serve it with its own juice, super ultra tasty!
Continuing from delicious fruits, lúcuma (Pouteria lucuma) is definitely on the list, which is a native Andean fruit. Like papaya, not likely to be eaten raw. I ate it in 2 different versions. First one was the puree, we bought it like a marmalade and we mixed it with cream the result was really delicious; not only the taste, but I also really enjoyed its velvety texture. The second version was the icecream, it was so delicious that I still can remember the taste, although I ate it only once in my life. Oh, I also heard that they mixed it with manjar, but I didn’t taste that version. Manjar is actually the Chilean word for “dulce de leche” which is the milk jam. It is made by cooking the condensed milk so it has a taste of caramel with a milky touch. I will turn back to manjar and lucuma when I actually focus on the Chilean patisserie.
I think now is the right moment to talk about the “miel de Palma”, which is the honey of the palm trees (Jubaea chilensis). It was the first time that I’ve tried it. It is not literally honey, but to compare with something usual, it is sweeter than honey and has a liquid texture.
Last fruits that I want to mention are the small kiwis, they are so small that you can fit 5 kiwis in one hand and the skin is smooth, without the needles that the actual kiwi has. Although that I learned later that it was not typical to Chile but still interesting to taste. I also learned that they are called “kiwiberry”.
With all these abundant type of fruits, of course they have many fruit juices. When they called it juice, it is more like a smoothy, they crush the fruit in a blender and mixed it with some water if it is too dense, depending on the variety. I drank mango juice, raspberry juice and cherimoya (Annona cherimola) juice which was my favorite. By the way, in Chile the berry cultivation is very abundant, you can find all kind of berries which are very natural and tasty; strawberry, cranberry, blueberry, blackberry, raspberry…
Passing to the vegetables, the potatoes here are extremely delicious, after eating them here, I felt like I never tasted potatoes before. Moreover, they have many different types of potatoes which I have never seen in my life before, the most interesting for me was the purple ones, and they are completely purple from outside and inside. Another delicious vegetable which is cultivated abundantly in Chile is the corn. I will mention the most delicious way to eat a corn in Chile in the upcoming parts.
The local market that I went, in Santa Cruz de Chile was quite big and you can find there anything. When I say anything, I really mean it. You can buy fruits, vegetables, poultry, fish, bread, ready to eat meals, cloths, house utensils, toys, books, dvds… And you can also buy fresh bread that they cook at the moment. They have super delicious breads. Normally I am not a big fan of bread, but there I was eating a lot. They have different types “hallulla”, “marraqueta” and ‘pan amasado’ are some of them. My favorite was hallulla. Another interesting thing is to heat the bread, they use this Chilean bread heater; you just put on the stove and heat the bread immediately. So nice!
Fruits, vegetables and bread. I think these are enough for the first part; I will be with you, with typical dishes soon. Wait for me!
All images © 2016 by Nedret Neslihan IVIT. All rights reserved.