History

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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