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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

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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