Reflecting the country's wide array of climates and topography and melding the influences of both indigenous traditions and immigrants from the world over, Chilean cuisine boasts some of the tastiest and more diverse culinary offering of any country in the world.
The north is always warm and dishes are fresh, including fantastic seafood, while central Chile is home to some of the highest quality farms and vineyards in the world. The south, where the temperatures can get low, is known for its barbeque, soups, and stews. No matter where you live, travel or teach English in Chile, you will discover a world of flavors that you can't resist!
1. Machas a la parmesana
Combining the fresh, briny taste of the sea with the creamy richness of cheese, surf clams au gratin (baked or broiled with cheese) is one of the most classic dishes of Chilean cuisine. Allegedly created by an Italian immigrant to Chile, Edoardo Melotti Ferrari, the dish has become a standard classic on menus along the Chilean coast. Fresh clams and melted cheese - you must try it!
2. Chilean wine
Chile boasts long history of cultivating vineyards and producing wine that traces its roots to the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century. Cabernet sauvignon, Merlot, and Carmenere are just some of the most famous varieties that can be enjoyed both in Chile and abroad for exceptionally reasonable prices. Like France, Italy or California, Chile is one of the few countries in the world that can claim the perfect Mediterranean-style climate that creates conditions ideal for harvesting exceptional wine grapes.
3. Pescado frito
Fish and chips Chilean style! Boasting one of the longest coastlines in the world, Chile enjoys access to some of the richest marine resources and fisheries on the planet. So it's no surprise that seafood and fish are one of the best and most tasty dishes of Chilean cuisine. When fried, they will be always accompanied by chips (french fries), or different kinds of salads, sauces and dips creating a perfect combination whether as a meal or a snack.
4. Chupe de locos, jaibas o mariscos
“Locos” is a "crazy" delicious shellfish that is unique to Chile. Similar to a sea snail, "locos" is more similar in taste to abalone, but many think it is even tastier. Traditionally baked in an earthenware bowl Chupe de locos is a stew made with locos, crabs, fish or other seafood, and often cheese that gives an irresistible aroma and taste within minutes of being popped into the oven.
5. Pastel de choclo
This fantastic Chilean corn pie is typically eaten in the summer time when corn is fresh. The dish provides endless opportunities to innovate and combine all sorts of flavors and ingredients, but the traditional version includes fresh corn and beef or chicken sautéed with onions, olives, and boiled eggs. Typically pastel de choclo is served in a clay dish after baking in the oven. It’s so delicious!
Humitas or steamed fresh corn cakes are also a typical summer dish in Chile. The base ingredient is fresh corn, which is ground with seasonings and aromatics like onion, basil and green chilies. The mix is wrapped in a fresh corn husk and then steamed. It's also always served with Chilean salad (tomatoes and onions) to create a smooth and delightful dish.
Like whiskey is to Ireland, vodka is to Russia, or tequila is to Mexico, Pisco is the national spirit of Chile. A liquor made from distilled grapes, it is essentially a grape brandy. Typically Muscat grapes are used and are produced in Valle del Elqui, a very mystic area in the North of Chile.
Pisco can be consumed “straight up”; as the famous “Pisco sour” which is Pisco, lemon juice, eggs whites, sugar and bitters; or it can be mixed with Coke, which is the most popular drink in the country, called ”Piscola”.
The Pisco industry in Chile is huge and aficionados can always find many and new options for creating pisco-based cocktials: Mango, Mango colada, lime, strawberries, mojito, piña colada, custard, etc. The list of tasty varieties never ends!
8. Chilean Ceviche
Comprised of raw fish marinated in lemon and other ingredients as chili peppers, onion, and coriander, ceviche is traditionally eaten at lunch or brunch. It can be prepared using one or more varieties of seafood and/or fish, including salmon, croaker, hake, pippin, shrimp and almost anything else. For all the raw fish lovers this is a heavenly option!
Chileans love meat and like any meat-loving culture, barbeque is a staple, especially for parties and special occasions. Every time there is something to celebrate, whether it's an important fútbol (soccer) match, a family reunion, or just the arrival of the weekend, Chileans are more than eager to find an excuse to prepare an “asado”. There are different varieties, and each family uses their own traditional recipes. Usually it features an assortment of large cuts of beef, chicken, pork ribs, sausages, and potatoes seasoned only with salt, and maybe some secret family ingredients, but everything is fresh and no sauce bought from the supermarket is allowed! Everything is grilled over natural charcoal and served with “Pebre” salsa made with tomatoes, onions, coriander, olive oil, garlic and ground chili peppers. Asado and pebre is just the fit for a King!
Curanto is typically served on Chiloé, the largest island at the country. You can see how locals make it at many events or folk parties on the island: they dig a hole in the ground, about five feet deep. At the bottom, they place a layer of pre-heated rocks inside which are then covered with big leaves from a local tree known as Nalca.
The leaves are topped with all kinds of beef, pork, chicken, sausages and also seafood, and then everything is covered with more leaves, plus a layer of sod and earth to seal in the the steam and cook everything to perfection. After about an hour, everything will be ready to taste!
From exquisite wines and seafood to traditional comfort food and barbecue, Chile is home to a rich and tasty culinary heritage that provides just one more reason to Teach English in Chile!!!
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