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Traditional Cuisine in Chile

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Traditional Cuisine

The traditional cuisine of the country's northern regions has been influenced by the Atacama and Aymara cultures of the Andean altiplano as well as the coast's Chango fishing culture. The north is rich in fish and seafood, and fertile valleys like Azapa, near Arica, produce tropical fruit (including guava) and olives that are used to make oil by local producers.

The valleys near the northern cities of Copiapó, La Serena and Ovalle produce internationally renowned wine and pisco as well as fruit like papaya and vegetables like asparagus, artichoke and tomato. The valleys' dessert grapes are exported to a number of countries in the northern hemisphere and within South America.

The central regions' cuisine is more influenced by rural – or "huaso" – culture and those of European immigrants. Traditional dishes such as empanadas, pastel de choclo (corn pie), humitas (steamed corncakes) and caldillo de congrio (white sea bass) are served in homes and restaurants alike.

In recent years, Chile's big cities have seen a rise in haute cuisine made with traditional Chilean ingredients. This trend is particularly noteworthy in Santiago, Valparaiso, Viña del Mar and its surrounding beaches and Santa Cruz in the Colchagua Valley.

This area is home to some of the best wine-producing valleys in the country, including Aconcagua, Casablanca, San Antonio-Leyda, Maipo, Cachapoal, Curicó and Maule, all of which are internationally known for the quality of their still and sparkling wines, which can be sampled on organized tours of the wine routes.

Lastly, the cuisine of country's southern area is strongly influenced by the Mapuche and Chiloé cultures and is characterized by its variety of potatoes and seafood. Chillán is known for its longaniza sausages, while cities like Concepción, Valdivia and Puerto Montt offer exquisite fish and seafood. Valdivia, Osorno, Puerto Varas and Puerto Montt serve delicious dishes and sandwiches featuring pork and sausages made from German recipes brought over by colonists. Also German in origin, the pastries of the south are the star attraction in Frutillar but can also be found in abundance in Valdivia, Osorno, Puerto Varas and Puerto Montt.

Chiloé's flagship dish is curanto, which is made with seafood, meat and potatoes and cooked in a pot or in a hole in the ground that is covered with hot rocks and nalca leaves. It's accompanied by milcao and chapaleles (both kinds of potato bread). Fresh oysters are available in Chiloé and the areas around Puerto Montt.

Over the past few years, Chile has seen the development of more sophisticated products, including wine and hot pepper marmalades; non-traditional meats like guanaco, boar and ostrich; and a traditional Mapuche spice known as merkén. The latter is a sun-dried chili pepper that is smoked, ground and seasoned with cilantro seeds that is gaining ground in the international marketplace.

 

Featured Destinations

aAntofagasta and Calama bCopiapó
cLa Serena and Coquimbo dSantiago
eCentral Coast fHighlights of the Central Valley
GVineyards HEaster Island
IChiloé JRobinson Crusoe
KValdivia and Osorno LPuerto Varas and Puerto Montt
M   Northern Patagonia N   Southern Patagonia

 

Tips

01

Picadas


If you want to eat where the locals eat, ask someone to recommend a "picada." There are always a few in each city. These small restaurants offer low prices and homemade food and sometimes focus on a single house specialty.

 

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