H.D. Miller Historian, Writer, Blogger, Bon Vivant
  • A Curanto in Ancud The first time I saw the island of Chiloé was from the deck of cruise ship heading out of Puerto Montt and up the Chacao Channel. We’d spent much of the day on a bus, going to Petrohue Falls and around Lake Llanquihue in the shadow of Osorno, the Mount Fuji-like stratovolcano that towers over […] 2 responses May 4, 2015
  • Cooking Cuscus, But Not the Kind You’re Thinking About I like to read and I like to chase after odd bits of knowledge. For example, when I was in Chiloé, the island off the coast of southern Chile, our guide claimed that curanto, the Chilote version of a pit bake, was brought to the island by ancient Polynesians, to which I replied, ORLY? I […] 4 responses April 30, 2015
  • Mote con Huesillos on Cerro San Cristobal Few things are more distressing or funny than watching a fat man labor up a steep hill. And at the end of February of this year, at the height of the Chilean summer, when temperatures in Santiago were in the mid-90s, I was that fat man. I was dragging myself up Cerro San Cristobal, the tall hill with […] No responses April 27, 2015
  • Nixtamalization: Chemistry and Nature in Sweet Hominy Nixtamalization is the first step in making a tamale, a taco, or hominy. It’s a 3,000-year-old method of removing the pericarp, that thin outer layer, from a kernel of corn. Dried corn is soaked in an alkaline solution, a soup of water and wood ashes, slaked lime, or lye, for a few hours, rinsed in cold water […] 7 responses April 23, 2015
  • A Bowl of Patasca in the Vega Central Tuesday nights were taco night in Santiago, a chance for a small group of students to come up to my apartment and watch me eat a prodigious number of chicken tacos, which meant that Tuesday afternoons were spent shopping, a chance for me to wade into the Vega Central and buy a prodigious quantity of […] 10 responses April 16, 2015
  • Merkén: The Mapuche Spice Merkén: The Mapuche Spice It’s best to think of colonial Chile, prior to the 19th century, as being on the far side of a distant mountainous moon, isolated and cut off from the rest of the world by the Andes, the Pacific Ocean, and the Atacama Desert. Without the silver mines of Potosi or the […] One response April 12, 2015
  • Of Love Locks and Bridges and New Old Customs Here in Santiago, Chile, young lovers have a curious habit of consecrating their affection by placing a padlock on the railing of a local bridge and tossing the key into the Rio Mapoche, thus supposedly insuring that their amor will endure forever. I discovered this in January, shortly after I got here, when during one […] 2 responses February 24, 2015
  • Pan Amasado and the Chilean Carb Face One of the things that most distinguishes the Chileans from their Argentine neighbors and rivals is the centrality of bread in the Chilean diet versus the centrality of beef in the Argentine. Chileans, simply put, are carb loaders extraordinaire, shoveling massive amounts of bread into their shopping bags and mouths every day of the week. […] One response January 27, 2015
  • A Note on Moroccan Plumbing N.B. This piece appeared in the second issue of my old zine, Travelling Shoes, “Fun in Old Morocco”, first published in the Spring of 1998.  I sing the praises of the Moroccan squat toilet; that Middle Eastern plumbing fixture usually misidentified as a simple hole in the ground with a pair of slightly-elevated foot-rests for leverage. As […] One response January 21, 2015
  • The Chilean Army: Boldly Goose-Stepping into the Future Whenever I want to explain the lingering influence of Germany on the militaries of South America, especially Chile, I show people this video… The Chilean Army comes by its German influences and traditions honestly, from a decent-sized influx of German immigrants during the second half of the 19th century, most of whom settled in the […] 8 responses January 20, 2015