But first, I would like to describe the differences in the sizes and the times of the Chilean meals throughout the day because they vary greatly from the schedule I would normally follow in the United States. Breakfast is a fairly small meal consisting of a couple pieces of bread and jam or a yogurt. Lunch is eaten between noon and 3 p.m. and is usually the largest meal of the day. There are some families who eat dinner between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., but most families have once, or teatime, between 6 and 10 p.m., which is essentially an evening snack and a cup of tea.
Merluza is one of the most popular kinds of fish eaten in Chile. This fish is white, soft, and mild-tasting, so it is usually served fried or baked rather than in soups or stews.
Congrio is another very popular kind of fish. This fish is also white and mild tasting, but it is much more firm than the Merluza, so it can be prepared in stews as well as baked or fried.
Although sushi is a Japanese food, there are plenty of sushi restaurants around Viña del Mar that have sit-down and take-out/delivery food. The sushi in Chile is to die for because of the unbeatable freshness of the fish.
Completos are often found in restaurants and street carts (similar to hot dog stands in the United States). A completo is a large hot dog (it can be as large as twice the size of a normal-sized hot dog from the United States!) completely covered in mayonnaise, avocado, and chopped tomatoes. These basic toppings more specifically refer to an Italiano because the colors correspond to the Italian flag, but other toppings available include mustard, cheese, ketchup, and onions.
Chorrillanais a bit of a combination of foods. The base of this dish is a plate of french-fries. Placed on the french-fries is meat covered with an oniony sauce, and finally a fried egg is laid on top.
A couple other meat dishes, though less common, are llama and carbonada. Llama can be found in San Pedro de Atacama, where it is marinated, glazed, grilled, and put on a cabob with onions. Llama tastes a bit like chicken, though a bit tougher.
Carbonada is a stew containing roast beef, potatoes, rice, and vegetables such as onions, green beans, and fresh peas. This is a fantastic hot meal filled with vegetables and protein.
Chaquican is a Chilean beef stew that includes zucchini, potatoes, squash, peppers, carrots, and corn, and often has a fried egg on top.
Two of the most common types of bread are hallullaand marraqueta, or batido. Hallullais a flat, round bread, whereas batidois soft bread resembling a short baguette. Pebre is almost always placed on the table before a meal at restaurants along with butter to eat with the bread. It is a spicy mixture of chili peppers, onions, garlic, cilantro, and occasionally tomatoes, though the spiciness and the taste vary quite a bit. Avocado is a very common food to put on bread and salads. Eaten during once, avocado is usually mashed up and mixed with olive oil and salt for taste. It is sliced rather than mashed for salads.
Empanadas and sopaipillasare other extremely common foods in Chile. Empanadas look like calzones in that they are made in the shape of a semicircle. They are usually fried pockets of dough filled with cheese and meat, cheese and shrimp, cheese and crab, a mixture of the meats, or just cheese.
Sopaipillas are also fried dough, but they are made with pumpkin, flour, and butter. These flat round circles of fried dough are usually eaten with pebre, ketchup, mustard, cheese, or butter on top. On particularly rainy days in Chile, families often make sopaipillas pasadas, which are sopaipillas covered in a sweet sauce made out of sugar and honey and flavored with orange peel.
Manjar is similar to dulce de leche in Argentina or caramel in other parts of the world, but it still maintains a very unique taste. Manjar is found in many foods including cakes, candies, ice cream, and cookies. It can also be placed on Chilean panqueques before the pancakes are rolled into a small crepe-like snack. Alfajores are a common sweet that include at least two cookies sandwiching a layer of manjar and coated in chocolate. Many students make and sell these cookies at school as a way to make a little bit of money.
Another note on sweets is that the ice cream in Chile, especially at Bravissimo, is excellent. It seems there are ice cream shops on every single street in Chile, so I haven’t gotten close to trying all the shops, but most shops have common flavors like chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry as well as unique flavors like manjar, tres leches, and lúcuma. Many shops also let customers taste different flavors before choosing, so be sure to ask to try some new flavors rather than sticking to the same, boring combinations!
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