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28 June 2011

Eating Chile

27th June 2011

Well that was a grim dinner.

It turns out that on a holiday Monday about the only restaurants open for dinner are Chinese, although rather unexpectedly this one is staffed entirely by Chileans. And they are gloriously crap at producing Chinese food. Although our set menu boasts “Special Chapsui” and “Mongolian chicken” we get two dishes consisting of bits of meat and cooked-to-extinction vegetables bathed in an oversalted sauce of the gloopy variety with absolutely no discernable taste. The fried rice is edible, although also too salty.

The previous day being Sunday there was also very little open, so we ended up in a place called Schopdog, which is a sort-of Chilean fast-food chain. I say sort-of because it’s actually quite expensive which I don’t associate with fast food. At least the food is crap.

Our other meal in Arica a few days ago was also pretty crap, and all the meals we had in Putre were essentially crap. Actually, the food in Chiloe was also crap except for Amory’s lovely home cooking at Chepu, and apart from the super-expensive fine dining at Astrid y Gaston (note: Astrid and Gaston are a Peruvian couple who have high-class restaurants in all the major capitals of South America) the food in Santiago was also crap.

Sadly, it seems that Chileans are content to eat rubbish. Rather like the British a couple of decades ago, I guess. Although my teenage recollection was of eating better at a Beefeater Steakhouse than a typical restaurant in Chile today.

This is particularly sad because it’s essentially a country colonised by the Spanish, who really know how to throw punchy flavours together, on top of the indigenous folk who helped to domesticate such staples as corn and potatoes and tomatoes. That ought to be a recipe for delicious. How bizarre.

Apart from crap dinner, our day of rest in Arica included a walk along the coast path south from town; bleak cliffs above, rough seas below, a gannet colony and a marine otter (chungungo) spotted swimming along beyond the rocks.

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4 Responses to “Eating Chile”

  1. Nessa says:

    Really surprising – one of the best meals we had on honeymoon was the night we stayed in chile – was definitely better than argentian (except for a special few and the dulce de leche ice cream of course!) x

    • shortclaws says:

      I expect it’s a combination of you getting lucky and us getting unlucky.

      Tonight we’ve hit a new low. Not only is there no way out of Calama, but all the restaurants are closed this evening. I do mean all. We ended up buying two truly pathetic hot dogs from a little old man in a corner shop. The hot dogs were pallid things about the same colour as a typical caucasian willy – very disturbing. And also fairly disgusting.

  2. Tim says:

    Yeah I’m surprized your experiences have been that bad. I guess my expectations were MUCH lower 15 years ago. And after a month on low budget in Peru I was pleased to be able to get homely seafood stewy things (Santiago fish market, Castro, Puerto Montt) after all the fried chicken!

    • shortclaws says:

      Well, it’s not as though we were hoping to find classy fine dining in every restaurant, or even in every town. Homely stews sound good, and we certainly had great food in cheap little local joints in SE Asia and Nepal, even in Bolivia in fact. But most restaurants here have just served stuff that is tasteless and/or oversalted. I’m pretty certain some bad luck has come into it, but that’s not gonna stop me having a little snipe and a moan. ; )

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