Chile has gone through a nutritional upheaval in the past half century. Whereas a few decades ago malnourishment was a worry, now their obesity levels are in the same league as the US. With flaky pastries and tasty breads, it's easy to see where the temptation lies.
For this long Memorial Day weekend, we shook things up by heading up to the Catskills. Our friend Sarah-Doe spent much of her childhood in this big, rambling structure, a former grain mill that her family converted into a home and woodworking shop, set between two streams that form part of the headwaters of the Delaware River.
photo by Kirsty Bennett
Given that we were farther from the ocean than just about any point in Chile, and the concerns of transporting fish for hours by car, we decided to pass up Chile's robust seafood opportunities and stick to safer foods. Our friends around the table were Kirsty, Saskia, Adam, Raven, Dan, Sarah-Doe, Michael, and Julia. A huge thanks to all the kitchen help, especially Kirsty for her major efforts particularly on pastry. And of course an enormous abrazo to Sarah-Doe for hosting us all!
Pisco sour | Brandy cocktail | Recipe
Chile and Peru have fought over many things, including territory and pisco. Peru claims that since the town of Pisco is in Peru, only their grape brandy may go by that name. Chile renamed a town as Pisco Elqui to nullify that argument. In any event, both countries produce a pretty similar product, but they whip it up in a cocktail somewhat differently. In Peru, a pisco sour is made with egg whites; in Chile, it appears it is not. The recipe we found had the further improvement of champagne, and it made for a powerful and refreshing potion.
Mote con huesillos | Dried peach and wheat drink | Recipe
Speaking of refreshing, this beverage, which looks like it's come straight from a different planet, is a great summertime cooler. Dried peaches are soaked in water with cinnamon overnight, then boiled with sugar, and the whole thing has some cooked grain added to it like a bizarro bubble tea. (It's supposed to be a form of dehusked whole wheat grains, but pearled barley made for a decent substitute.) We all agreed it tasted better than feared, though for those of us not used to chewing our way through a drink, it was a bit of a challenge.
Marraquetas | Double rolls | Recipe
This looks a lot like a butt, yet it had a great texture and tasted fantastice. For whatever reason this is the shape that Chileans expect their bread to be in, to the extent that specialized machines are manufactured to help bakers achieve it. Luckily I remembered to bring up some sourdough starter, which the recipe said was optional; I have no idea if that's really authentic, but gosh it helped! We tore our way through this double batch of bread, alternating between butter, pebre (see below), and butter and pebre in combination.
Pebre | Chilean salsa | Description
Apparently this comes from the Catalan word for bell pepper, but since I forgot to print out the recipe I didn't know what ingredients to buy and didn't get any peppers, sweet or otherwise. It ended up being a non-spicy salsa of tomato, chopped onion, and cilantro, and whaddya know it was still a great topping for the bread.
Porotos granados | Fresh cranberry bean stew | Recipe
Ensalada chilena | Tomato and onion salad | Recipe
This salad of onions, tomato, and cilantro might seem like no great shakes, but notice the technique of pouring boiling salted water on the onions to remove the sharpness. It really works!
Empanadas de pino | Ground beef empanadas | Recipe
This coming weekend we're tackling China, which is shaping up to be quite the adventure!
Photos by Laura Hadden, who's looking forward to more noshing in the countryside.