Chile is a country stretched over a vast variety of landscapes, giving the cuisine a different flavor in every region. While the food in Chile isn't known for its large number of spices, the dishes are prepared in a number of different ways with a variety of mainly fresh ingredients and are quite delicious, offering a charming selection of fine meals and desserts. One of the main allures of Chilean food is the wide assortment of seafood varieties, and it is no wonder, given the vast coastline and islands that make up this lengthy country. Food is a large part of the culture in Chile, but everyone needs a little something to sip with their meals, and the exceptional red wine of Chile is another experience in itself—there are even festivals in celebration of the drink.
While visiting the country, you will most likely find yourself in a Chile restaurant, and much of the food has remained traditional as well as continuously evolved and adapted to the variety of immigrants and combined cultures. Before the Spanish conquistadors arrived, the natives of Chile used corn as a base in most of their meals, which is a tradition that continues today. A couple of the most popular corn dishes today are humitas, which consist of mashed corn wrapped and cooked in the husk, and pastel de choclo, a delicious pie of corn and meat. Upon arrival, the Spaniards brought with them a large selection of livestock, including chicken, sheep, rabbits, and cattle. Along with these animals came milk, cheese, and other fruits, vegetables, and spices, such as grapes, olives, garlic, and sugar. In the mid-1800s, German immigrants brought delectable desserts of cake and other pastries to the country. Many cultures have added to the food in Chile, from Italians to Arabs to the British with their tea time, a tradition still enjoyed in modern Chile.
There is great variety among the types of seafood found in the food in Chile, mainly due to the length of the country's shoreline. Favorite dishes you may find at a typical Chile restaurant include shellfish, king crab, lobster, calamari, octopus, sea urchin, salmon, sea bass, eel, and abalone crabs. Many of the dishes include these and other types of catches from the sea. Curanto is similar to the gumbo found in the southern United States, featuring a mixture of fish, shellfish, chicken, beef, lamb, pork, and potatoes in one delicious stew.
Santiago, the capital city, is a hub for some of the best and most varied restaurants in Chile, where you will find food to match every taste. Vegetarian food is easiest to find at Santiago restaurants as opposed to those in other parts of the country. Because of the wide range of immigration from different parts of the world, it is difficult to define classic Chilean food in some parts of the country, especially in larger cities such as Santiago.
Along with your meal, you may want to sample the first rate red wine of Chile. Vendimia Wine Festival in Chile is one of the most famous, taking place in March just outside of Santiago in Isla de Maipo. Travelers who are especially interested in learning about wine on their Chile vacation can consider taking wine tours throughout the country, and those interested in other local drinks might add a visit to Pisco Elqui, where Chilean pisco is distilled.
Chilean food is not only a sustaining part of the lifestyle, but it's a complete part of the culture. Wherever you choose to visit, and whatever you choose to eat during your stay, will indubitably be deliciously enjoyable while you enjoy the beautiful attractions of the country. From Arica in the northern part of the country to Punta Arenas, one of the southernmost cities in the world, visitors are sure to find that a meal at a Chile restaurant enhances any trip.