Eating my way through Chile, one empanada at a time

Since I am working at the Instituto de Nutrición y Tecnología de los Alimentos, it is only fitting that I post about some of Chile’s culinary delights. Be warned that there is a non-zero risk of comer sin hambre after seeing some of these pictures.

Seafood galore: some of my favorite seafood dishes include merluza and reineta. At the Mercado Central, you can buy a variety of delicious, fresh seafood. I ate reineta with a salsa of mariscos, a mix of shrimp and calamari in a creamy white sauce at the famous Donde Augusto. There is also congrio, which is an eel-like fish. Pablo Neruda loved congrio so much that he wrote an ode to el caldillo de congrio, a congrio stew that captured his heart and stomach.

Fresh reineta at Mercado Central

Caldillo de congrio at Isla Negra, Pablo Neruda’s favorite house

Fresh produce at la feria: Las ferias are open-air markets where you can buy nearly anything. I’ve seen the usual fruits and vegetables, but I’ve also seen nuts, kelp, sea salt, plants, buttons, fancy underwear… EVERYTHING. My favorite part about the ferias is that all the fruits and vegetables are of different shapes and sizes. Good bye to the uniform carrots, all perfectly elongated and clean, of Safeway. Here, I found the ugly duckling cousins of our usual fruits and vegetables, and I was enamored! Look at how funny these fetus-shaped kiwi are!

Fetus-shaped kiwis!!!
Pepinos and membrillos
Fresh reineta at Mercado Central

Empanadas: Oh the famous Chilean empanadas! I found empanadas of all types: fried and baked, shrimp and cheese, mushroom and cheese, corn and cheese, shrimp and corn and cheese… One of the most common varieties is pino, which has a mix of beef, onions, and a SINGLE olive.

Look at how big this empanada is!

Chilean fast food: There is an abundance of cheap, Chilean fast food. Sopapillas (like a fried flatbread), choripan (sausage with bread), completo (hot dog with all the dressings), and more.


Pastel de choclo: This is a traditional Chilean dish made of ground corn (corn is known as choclo in Chile). There’s corn (slightly sweet) on the top and the pino mix on the bottom, all in a clay dish that is baked in the oven. Qué rico!


Pastel de choclo

Lomo al pobre: A poor man’s steak, this is a whopping meal of beef, fried eggs, and grilled onions over french fries. You will not be missing out on protein or calories with this dinner.

Lomo al pobre

Porotos: Beans, beans, beans! A perfect meal for a cold winter day in Santiago. There are beans with pumpkins, beans with sausages, garbanzo beans… you name it. Delicious and hearty, and no sparing in the portion size. I was craving porotos after a long hiking day in the pre-cordillera.

Porotos granados

Chilean drinks: Of course, there are many special Chilean drinks also. You may have heard of the Peru versus Chile claim to pisco, a grape brandy. There is pisco sour, piscola (+ Coca Cola), pisco ginger (+ ginger ale). You can’t forget the infamous terremoto, and la replica (the aftershock) if you dare – I’ll let you Google that one. My favorite drink is mote con huesillo, which is a cold, sweet mix of wheat and dried peaches.

Mote con huesillo atop Cerro San Cristóbal
And of course, meals are always better with good friends


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