Stemming from a mix of Spanish and Chilean indigenous Mapuche cuisines as well as a combination of German, Italian and French influences, Chilean cuisine provides a wide range of dishes. It’s long coastline also provide a rich range of fresh seafood and it’s also known for being among the world’s largest producer of wine. With so much to sample, we’ve compiled the top 5 of the must-try cuisines of Chile, giving you a head start of some on the best things to try here.
These delicious pastry pillows of meat and/or cheese are one of the tastiest things you can buy in Chile! Their relatively compact size mean you can have just one or two as either an entrée or side, or order more and make it a full meal. The most common fillings you can try are beef, cheese and seafood and they are sold either baked or fried. To give them an extra kick, try them with a fresh salsa.
Chilean Empanadas (Credit: Mayrac1320)
Seafood is a staple in Chile, thanks to the long coastline that runs along this narrow continent. It can be served in a variety of ways, but we are big fans of ceviche – a dish made of fresh seafood cured in citrus and served with onions, salt and coriander.
If you get the opportunity, make sure you also try a curanto, where a combination meat and seafood are cooked in the ground, giving a unique, delicious and smoky flavour. Both are a must try in Chile!
Traditional Curanto Meal
Although mostly farmed to transport goods and for their fur, which produces surprisingly soft wool, llamas can also be used for their meat. They are very low in fat, making them a healthy option for those wanting to avoid cholesterol. The flavour is like beef, but with a gamey palate. Nowadays llama meat is not as common, while it is still eaten in northern Chile it is almost unknown to the rest of the country. Like any meats, it can be served in a variety of ways, we recommend you try the chairo, an altiplano llama stew that’s generally only found in the Atacama Desert region.
Chairo (Llama stew)
Carmenere (Credit: Agne27)
A fruity and peppery red wine, similar to Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmnere was originally produced in Bordeaux. The grape variety was thought to be extinct until it was discovered that some Chilean wines mistakenly labelled as Merlot were in fact Carmenere. With the grape now flourishing in Chile, it has since been recognised by the Ministry of Agriculture as an official Chilean variety, and makes the perfect accompaniment to the Chilean cuisine!
5. Pisco Sour
While it is long contested whether pisco and the pisco sour cocktail originated in Peru, Chileans also have a long history with this traditional spirit. Made using the pisco liquor with is produced with grapes, the pisco sour is a cocktail containing lemon or lime juice, sugar syrup and egg white. It has a fresh, sweet citrus flavour that is understandably a favourite with locals.
Pisco Sour (Credit: Jorge Gobbi)
Interested in Chile? Check out Bunnik small group tours to Chile here.