Last weekend I visited the island of Chiloé in Chile’s extreme south. While there, I had the opportunity to try two of Chiloé’s best known dishes. They both feature seafood, something that Chiloé is very well known for.
The first of these two dishes is called Curanto. As seen in the picture, it contains (from left to right): a sausage, two dumpling-style potatoes, a chicken thigh, a pork rib (not visible in the photo), mussels, and clams. This plate served three people and came with individual cups of almost unbearably salty broth.
I know there is awful glare from the window, but this second dish was absolutely incredible. It’s a soup called Paila de Mariscos, paila being the name for the vessel it’s served in and mariscos meaning seafood. It’s a delicious seafood broth filled with clams, mussels, a few other types of mollusk meat that I couldn’t identify and a big piece of salmon. The broth was beautifully seasoned with garlic, tomato, cilantro, onion, and garnished with parsley. It was surprisingly filling for a broth based soup, I wish I could have finished it!
Yes, dear readers (not that there are many of you at this point), llama meat can in fact be eaten. I have not eaten many odd meats (I would do very poorly on the Omnivore’s 100), but the opportunity presented itself to try llama and I figured I might as well.
We were in the tiny desert town of Machuca, Chile, somewhere between San Pedro de Atacama and the Tatio Geysers and pretty much the only business in this town is the llama kabobs. Tour buses stop there, so there is a steady flow of people, and this town was the first place in the world I saw one of the $100 laptops in use.
The flavor of llama meat can’t really be compared to anything I had eaten before, it is a red meat so there were obviously some similarities to beef, but the flavor and texture were incredible. It wasn’t nearly as gamey as I was expecting and the flavor had some amazing, indescribable quality. Sorry I’m not being more descriptive here, I have a relatively untrained palate.
While I really enjoyed the whole experience, it was a little odd to be eating llama meat within view of live llamas. I couldn’t help but feel a little guilty.
One of the things that horrifies me most about Chilean cuisine is their love for mayonnaise. According to Wikipedia, Chile in the 3rd highest world consumer of mayonnaise per capita. Scary thought, I know.
This fact is no better illustrated than the completo, a ubiquitous hot dog with any topping you can imagine available everywhere here in Chile. The toppings vary, but it is always finished off with a huge squirt of mayo. GROSS!
That big yellow-ish blob on the top? That’s right, it’s mayo! There are so many toppings on this particular one that you can’t even see the hot dog below. Under the mayo is mashed avocado, diced tomato, diced onion, and then finally the hot dog. I scraped most of the mayo off and shared it with a friend and it was still too much mayo for me.