“The Avocado Republic of Chile, Because it’s too Cold to Grow Bananas” is Chile’s ultimate tour guide. Laugh-out-loud funny and insightful. American writer Walker Rowe sick of the pollution and noise in Santiago moves to the country for peace and quiet. What he did not know is when you move to the country, you exchange one set of problems for another.
Quick. Here is a question: How many Peruvian restaurants are in Santiago? Many. How many Chilean restaurants are in Lima? I don’t know. Because I have never been to Lima, but I think it is close to zero, based upon what I have seen in the USA. No one outside of Chile wants to eat Chilean food. The whole notion, in fact, of “Chilean cuisine” either does not exist or is so loosely defined that no one has been able to fashion a menu out of that.
When Madonna left Argentina after filming Evita, she had grown weary of the country and the country had grown weary of her. Her parting words were that “Argentine food is bad.” Other’s agree. The Economist magazine recently wrote that Argentines have the best beef in the world, but then they burn it.
There must be something about living in the Southern Cone that makes one lose all their sense of taste.
Chilean food is boring and bland. Here are some examples.
A hotdog in the USA is made with a mix of pork, beef, and chicken. In Chile, it is all chicken. They have no flavor. I think they are made from the part of the chicken that has no flavor. I am not sure what part that is. It could be the feet.
Chileans put more mayonnaise on the hotdog than wiener. It’s disgusting. Then they add ketchup and avocado. Avocado! Where’s the chili? There is no chili in Chile. How ironic.
Even the ketchup is wrong. In Chile, ketchup and mustard is sweet, because they add sugar to everything here, even orange juice. Mustard is supposed to have a sharp taste. But if you smother it with sugar, it tastes like every other condiment.
You cannot get decent cheese here. 80% of what is sold is plain white cheese like they eat in Mexico. It is bland. The other 20% is goat cheese, which is supposed to have a sharp flavor. But the Chilean recipe has taken much of the flavor out of that too.
The other non-food here is one item that a Chilean would say is most typical of their culture. This is casuela. It’s nothing more than a hunk of boiled meat, which is mainly bone. You have to move the bone out of the way to get at the soup, but that is blocked by corn, which is still on the cob, and an oversized carrot. Move all of those things out of the way and you have broth, which is something you can eat without some kind of tool.
In Chile there are two types of olives: those with salt and those without salt. The olives without salt all have the same flavor, which is no flavor. They taste like formaldehyde and have the same texture as a corpse.
You would think that you could escape the Chilean diet by eating international food, but you cannot find decent Mexican food or kabobs in Santiago. One reason why there is no good Mexican food, is there are no Mexicans. So the Chileans who own and run these restaurants change the recipe, because they do not know what it is supposed to taste like. They do not give you chips when you first sit down and the salsa is small in its portion and not rich with tomatoes. Tacos here are not crispy and enchiladas are not the same as what you get in California. The only thing Chileans have not altered for the worse is Mexican beer, as that is imported.
There are quite a few Palestinians living in Santiago, but they came here a long time ago and do not run restaurants. There are no Iranians here, no critical mass of Middle Eastern culture to make a decent kabob. In Chile, kabobs are made from beef. There is no lamb at all. How can one have a kabob restaurant and not serve lamb or ground beef? There are plenty of sheep in the south, but those all reserved to make wool.
The last thing I will say on this subject is the subject of seafood. Chile has a 4,000 km coastline, but most Chileans prefer meat. In the small town of Curacaví where I live, you cannot buy fresh fish even though we are between Santiago and the Pacific Ocean. Chilean seafood is wonderful, but you have to live on the coast to get it.
Santiago and even Curacaví have sushi restaurants. But the ocean is cold here, so there are no warm water mackerel, flounder, tuna, or the fish one normally finds in a sushi restaurant. So the sushi restaurants only serve two kinds of fish: farm-raised salmon and octopus. But then when you ask for salmon, they will tell you they have run out. It’s not worth even going.
So if you are planning to move to Santiago or visit, I suggest you bring your own food. If you want something with taste, the only alternative is to eat at Indian restaurants. Chileans have not yet taken the curry out of curry dishes, so there you can find some flavor. Those are run by actual Indians.
(14) Readers Comments
April 24, 2017
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April 06, 2017
Judging a creative writing contest is to pretend authority and, even m
Anita! I know someone who wants to work in Chile but as electrician. D
I really enjoyed this story. It made me think about my own predisposit
Thank you, Scott.
I have been living in Santiago for about one year and I can confirm th