Culinary Adventures In Chile: Pastel de Choclo

Ok, so while Chile's famous for all sorts of things (Pisco! Pinochet! Neruda!), its culinary scene isn't exactly one of them. It's certainly nothing compared to its neighbours - the trendy ceviche of Peru or the distinguished Malbec and steak of Argentina.

Not knowing what to expect, or what to order, I spent my first few days in the country living off empanadas and barbecued meat. While both excellent, it hardly represented brand new cuisine for me, and I was itching to see if there was something a bit different that Chile had to offer. 

Pastel de Choclo: the king of stodgy dishes

On my second day in the capital, Santiago de Chile, I went on an excellent free walking tour with newfound travel friends, New Yorker T and Aussie D. (A non-food related side note here: if you're in Santiago and fancy a brilliant tour, they meet in the Plaza de Armas daily, and I'd thoroughly recommend it. The end of the tour led us to the house of Pablo Neruda, La Chascona. I'd already been to a Pablo Neruda house in Valparaiso the day before, and had no real desire to go to another (while it was very good), and so we opted for lunch instead.

The traditional restaurant we ended up in didn't have a wealth of options, so I tried the Pastel de Choclo, not knowing what to expect at all. Turns out that this is a very stodgy sweetcorn and beef dish, somewhere between a casserole and a pie. Inside the pie, along with the beef and corn, was chicken, raisins, olives, onions and a hard boiled egg.

The nearby park in Santiago

I'd say it was... interesting. Quite enjoyable, a little like a Chilean version of a Cornish pasty (although sadly nowhere near as good). However, the portion was huge, and the stodge was considerable and the texture very dense, so I could only get about halfway through.

I swiftly followed it with a Pisco Sour - elsewhere. Suffice it to say, I didn't have another while I was in the country. Empanadas all the way.

Hurrah for Pisco Sours!


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