It is almost going to be a week since I got to Viña del Mar, Chile and I have had the opportunity to try many different dishes. Although my taste buds clearly have preferred some dishes over others, I never say no to any of the food that is offered to me. Besides the fact that I do not want to be rude by saying no, I also promised myself that I would be very open to try new foods once I got to Chile. I have tried a Chilean vegetable casserole, a Chilean bean soup, and different types of fruits. Although it may seem as if we have all this food in America, it is prepared quite differently here in Chile, therefore it has a completely different taste.
My favorite dish I have tried so far is, well, not really a dish. It is rather a particular food that Chile is extremely famous for. This food is known as empanadas. As I mentioned before, I am from a town that is literally right next to Mexico so the word or food “empanadas” was not completely unknown to me. Empanadas are commonly sold in Mexico so we sometimes had some at home. The Chilean empanadas I came to find here in Chile, however, had a twist to them.
My host mom, Alicia, took me and a friend of mine to what she says is the best empanada restaurant here in Viña del Mar. The restaurant was called “Varieta” and it had tons of empanadas! The twist was that they were not like the sweet empanadas I was used to- these had actual food in them! The menu offered empanadas stuffed with ham and cheese, cheese and olives, seafood, chicken, and meat along with many other ingredients.
I choose a ham and cheese empanada while my host mom chose one with cheese and olives. We also had the option to have them either fried or baked. I chose mine to be baked because we have so much fried food in America. I cannot put into words how delicious it was! It was a very simple lunch, but the taste was great. I came to the conclusion that it tasted even better because I was so used to eating sweet empanadas, so when I tried the Chilean empanadas with actual food, they tasted very different.
I had been hearing about these empanadas for a very long time, which would explain why I was so excited when my host mom asked to take me for one. The menu was very big so it took a while for me to choose the empanada I wanted to eat for my first time in Chile. Now that I look back at it, I think that I chose a somewhat plain empanada. Now that I have tried more Chilean foods, next time I go I will choose something more extravagant. Seafood maybe?
Since I tried these at a restaurant, I had to guess the ingredients. My empanada only had ham and cheese so my host mom and I guessed that the only ingredients were flour, ham, and cheese. If you put these three ingredients together it does not sound very tasty, but they definitely were. After all, there’s a reason why they are so famous, right?
The best part about this experience was that it made me feel a bit closer to Chile and its people. I had eaten one of the many foods that so proudly represent the country. I can finally say that I have eaten Chilean empanadas! The only bad part about it is that I want to keep eating them everyday, which is not a good idea because it is a lot of bread. I am trying my best to stay away from them, but I cannot promise that I won’t eat them often during my time here.