People always ask me how the food is here in Chile and everyone expects me to be full of stories of all sorts of exotic foreign delicacies and strange dishes, but this is not at all the case. As a matter of fact, aside from the fact that avocado is consumed at literally every meal, Chile has a pretty nondescript typical diet. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy the food here or that there aren’t any specifically Chilean foods, but there are very few of these true Chilean foods that are known outside of the southern cone. My favorites follow, but it ought to be noted that the common theme here is that these are all street-vendor foods, not traditional family meals:
Mote con Huesillo:
This non-alcoholic beverage is incredibly refreshing on a toasty day. It is a sweetly thin peach-flavored juice (it’s not actual peach juice, which is thicker and stronger, but rather it is a juice cooked with peaches to attain that flavor) that is served over boiled husked wheat kernels and a dried peach. It is a sweet drink, thought not overpoweringly so, and the juice is a great refreshment combined with the little snack provided by the peach and wheat. These usually run about 500 Chilean pesos (~$1USD) per glass, and are perfect for recovering from a cramped metro ride on a hot day.
I’m a hotdog/sausage lover already, so when I discovered these guys, I was predictably ecstatic. Nothing beats these hot dogs for a quick snack between class and the library (or if we’re being realistic here, between the basketball courts the pool). For $300, $400, or $500 CLP respectively ($0.60, $0.80, $1.00 USD) you get a hot dog laden with an assortment of goodies. Completos consist of an overlarge bun with bed of sauerkraut upon which the hotdog sits covered in diced tomato and mayonnaise. Simple but delicious. The Italiano gets its name from the red, white, and green of the tomato, mayonnaise, and avocado that get crammed into the bun on top of the hot dog (Google the Italian flag if you’re still confused about why those colors make it Italian). The Dinamico, the big brother of the bunch, is kind of a mix of the other two, with the hot dog sitting on the sauerkraut bed, covered in tomato, mayo, avocado, and usually a final mystery salsa special to each vendor. These things are a disaster to eat, over-laden as they are, but they’re always worth the extra effort. These definitely would have been my favorite food discovery of my time in Chile if not for…
For $100 CLP ($0.20 USD) Sopaipilla is like eating a tiny cloud, a little slice of heaven. Seriously—they’re amazing. They start out as a thin little yellow disc of rubbery, pasty wheat/squash dough, but are then deep fried in oil until they are just getting puffy, with a tiny hint of a crunch on the outside). These sopaipilla MUST be purchased from a (preferably questionable/sketchy) street vendor. Usually there will be mustard, ketchup, and spicy Chilean ají available as toppings, but if there are home-made salsas as well, you are required to fish that old twisted spoon out of the depths of the salsa container (which will usually be an old Tupperware tub) and load up. Then enjoy. “Sopa” are good for literally every occasion.