taken at San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
taken at San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
I have an obsession with food, always. This is part of the essential part of my travels and it is a deal breaker for anyone who wants to travel with me. I eat a lot, sometimes a lot of weird stuff, and often the restaurant or food stall is hidden on some back alley street. I hate going to typical tourist restaurants and seek out the cheap and characterful places. It also helps to have an iron stomach, especially if you are game for raw stuff.
Part of the popular dishes in South America is cerviche. Raw seafood cooked in lime juice and other sauces. I had it in Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Easter Island, Peru.
The best cerviche I ever had was in the most unlikely place that is a little far away from the coast. That was in Nazca, Peru, famous for the Nazca lines. It was cheap and so good for only us$5 for a complete meal that included a soup, the cerviche, main fish dish, a drink.
Every country prepares their cerviche a little differently.
Bolivia serve mostly fish cerviche with fried toasted corn and lotsa lime and chilli. Ecuador loves their cerviche with conche and prawns served with panacones (fried banana chips) and pop corn. Chile has their sea urchin cerviche which is delicious but expensive, serve plain with lime and onion. Easter island has mainly tuna cerviche, serve plainly like the Chileano version with lotsa lime juice. Peru has one of the best cerviches, mainly fish with some spices and mint.
In Mendoza, Argentina the famous Malbec wine region : The Malbec grape varietal thrives and where the best Argentina wine come from, also famous for its Dulce de Leche, a condensed caramelised milk product popular with Argentinians
Half spoonful of Dulce de Leche, fill the other half with Malbec wine, gulp it down.
Chile has its terramoto cocktail drink, red wine, pisco (grape liquer), pineapple icecream. This is Mendoza’s version of very bad drink ideas that taste quite disgustingly weird.
Alfajores : Very typical biscuits of South America, you see versions of it everywhere, especially in Chile and Argentina. This Argentinian version consist of snow dusted sugar on 2 biscuits with Dulce de Leche filling (caramelised condensed milk) . Quite addictive and probably will kill your liver and kidney from all those sugar! You easily find them in shops, cafes and on the streets.
Cerviche in Easter island. Raw fish cooked in lemon juice along with raw local shrimp from the surrounding sea. Served with steamed banana bread (right) that is more banana than bread, local Tuna call Kana Kana (middle), fried plantains (left) with salad in the background.
One of the best cerviche tasted so far since coming to South America but deadly if you are not into raw fish and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Mendocino (Mendoza, Argentina) version of Paella :
Rice cooked purely in white wine and a bit of broth, but really mostly cook in wine. Add tomatos and fresh tomato, onions, salted anchovies, garlic. The octopus is cooked in red wine with carmelised onions. Local Mussles added at the end, Olives and Half boiled egg place on top along with Biondilo and Mendocino hard feta cheese. Cooking preparation & time s about 1 hour.
Eating out in Argentina is expensive and one can’t afford to eat out for all main meals daily especially when it cost 50-80pesos (us$13- us$20) for quite a sub standard dish. That’s just a dish not a meal. However Mendoza is a great place for beautiful vegetables, sea food, meats produce and cooking is fun if you have a great kitchen.
Empanadas are like the South America version of curry puff, pastry stuffed with meats, or cheese, or chicken. There is the fried and baked version. The pasteleria everywhere seems to make awful pre-prepared empanadas, but there are dedicated shops that make fresh versions when you order them. The fillings and the pastry matters a lot. The trouble is it is more of a hit and miss affair when choosing a good empanada shop. The standard varies and often the popular shops serve up quite crappy versions even if there are tons of folks buying it. The freshly made fried empanadas taste better than the oven baked ones of course. This is what most Chileans and Argentinans have as cheap fast food. A typical cheap dinner will consist of at least 6 pieces.
Salted pig in Argentina, this is more traditional and often prepared only for the weekends. The whole pig with skin and hooves is cured in salt. It seems more of a spanish dish where you make a stew out of it. The taste apparently is better than fresh pork. Preparation takes more than 1 day to soak the pig in water to rid of the salt then boiled and stewed with root vegetables or eaten just like so. I have no clue what this taste like as I don’t eat red meats.
Salt plains of the Atacama Desert in Chile with two other travel pals.
This is just a taste of what to come when I visit Bolivia for the famous Salar de Uyuni.
Stayed in the town of San Pedro de Atacama after a long bus ride of 24 hours from Santiago, Chile.
The two short days in Santiago, Chile were filled with plenty of great seafood meals and COFFEE!
This coffee crazed traveller here visited a few coffee bars around the city and was left pretty satisfied with the coffee. (gleem)
The coffee bars around Santiago, Chile business district are pretty unique as you would be served by busty sexy ladies, often clad in tight fitting dresses. You would only see mostly Chilean men in their business attire flirting with these ladies. There are no seats, so standing only which suggest it is a quick drink and flirt place.
I found one rather dodgy coffee bar that had more than their windows covered which suggest that there is something more than coffee being served in those. But mostly these coffee bars are pretty transparent and open. You hardly see many ladies drinking in these places though.
You buy your drink ticket from the cashier counter and present them to the lady of your choice. She serves you a glass of soda and a cup of coffee. Tips are optional.
The expresso coffee served in the chain coffee shops are surprisingly pretty good. For around 900 chilean pesos (US$2), you get a pretty decent standard of expresso, served with a glass of refillable soda.
The Starbucks coffee equivalent, Cafe Haiti and Cafe Caribe are found almost every corner of Santiago commercial district.
For crowd watching go around 2pm when it is lunch time, you would see older looking business types talking to these busty ladies, thought I did not really think they were that pretty. That’s only my opinion!
After such winterly spring weather in the Pacific North West of United States, I was suddenly shocked by how hot Santiago,Chile was even though this is Autumn. The hottest it got in the Pacific North West for the past weeks had been was only 10°C (50°F).
I slowly started shedding all my clothes and was reduced to only my tank top and slippers. It might take time to adjust, but I head soon to the North of Chile in a few days, then onwards to Peru and Bolivia. Hopefully winter is bearable over there. I don’t take well to both heat and the cold.
Currently eating around Santiago, amazing seafood here and the coffee is surprisingly better after the last disappointment of Seattle, USA.