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Sorry, Chile, but it’s true. For as much as we loved our time traveling thousands of miles up and down your country, our palates were left entirely under-stimulated.

First, let it be known that there is nothing spicy to eat in Chile. Do not let the name fool you. There is a deceiving red powder, called ají, on the table with salt and pepper, but even if you cover your pizza in a blanket of it, there’d be about as much kick as from a legless man.

vegetarian food la serenaI mention pizza, and if you read this website often, you will know we are always on the hunt for excellent pizza. Unfortunately the Chilean version pales desperately in comparison to its Argentine neighbor. It is dry, basic, unimaginative and does nothing more than to satisfy large groups, teenage boys and two vegetarian GlobetrotterGirls when nothing else is even remotely interesting on the menu.

Ugh, and the empanada certainly didn’t make it over the Andes very well either. In Argentina the thick, buttery dough filled with creamy mozzarella, tangy blue cheese or meat (if that’s your thing) became an addiction. Here, the shape and concept is the same, but the dough is like cardboard, the cheese like rubber.

pizza valparaisoChile is by far the most sophisticated country in South America, yet its food reflects none of this sophistication. Take the ‘famous’ Chorillana – a Chilean national dish that we would simply call Stoner Food. Meat, large chunks of lazily chopped broiled vegetables, ham, cheese and a fried egg or two are thrown on top of a huge bed of French fries. That’s it. Just pull the fries out, dip them in some off the yolk and/or ketchup and/or mayo, and eat the rest with a mix of your hands and a fork.

Next up, the ‘completo’ is a hot dog. It’s not very ‘complete’ either. It’s got a few things on it, but it’s just a hot dog with none of the creativity of a Belgian, Chicago or New York style dog let alone bratwurst.

Once, we ordered a sandwich that, on a neighboring table, looked remarkably similar to a Mexican Torta. But rather than being fresh, thick, warm bread piled high with so many delicious ingredients it puts Subway to shame, this was just cold, boiled green beans, queso fresco (the worst white cheese in.the.world), lettuce, tomato and onion. Green beans on a sandwich? Really?

ancud lomito veggieYou’ll notice that much of these are some sort of sandwich or bread dish, and not one would be classified as healthy. Even salads are not done right. How often did we get a plate with four ingredients lined up in a row – a strip of lettuce next to a row of sliced tomatoes next to sliced cucumbers next to, say, shaved carrots. The ingredients were not even mixed together, vegetable oil and white vinegar on top, for the price of that Chorillana those stoners, sorry locals, are chewing down on at the next table over.

saladPossibly the worst offender is the sopaipilla – fried dough bought from a street vendor and then slathered in mayo. That’s right, just fried dough in mayonnaise (we didn’t say it wasn’t good, but again with the stoner food!).

The lack of healthy options never ceased to amaze, nor did watching coffee drinkers pour one, two, sometimes three oversized sugar packets into an espresso. If it even was an espresso. Most likely it was a Nescafé, since instant coffee is preferred in Chile, a fact which makes us sad and teary-eyed every morning.

nescafe chileContinuing on the subject of sugar, ordering a smoothie and forgetting to ask for no sugar meant resigning ourselves to the presence of a new cavity by days end.

And salt? I once watched a mother salt her pre-teen daughter’s dinner so heavily, had she also lit and handed her a cigarette it wouldn’t have surprised me.

There are some healthier dishes, like the curanto, a meat dish cooked underground in a pot over hot rocks, similar to a hangi in New Zealand. Fish, meat, bread and potatoes are heated wrapped in large leaves for hours and then taken out to be eaten together. But this is 1. only in the south of the country and 2. too time-consuming dish to order with any regularity.

You’ll note that most dishes are for meat-eaters. Traditional vegetarian dishes include humitas, which are like Mexican tamales, with corn meal masa, with only sprinkles of corn inside and no other flavor to speak of. There is always the Paila option, which is just scrambled eggs, often with avocado. Oddly, this is not considered a breakfast dish, but an once, meaning afternoon snack).

And now we come to the Mote con Huesillo, a popular summer drink that, while not bad, is just plain weird.

Served in a plastic cup, first the vendors add two or three big scoops of cooked husked wheat. Yup, wheat. That’s the ‘mote’ part. Then, one or two stewed peaches in a syrupy liquid are poured on top. This is not blended together. You chew the drink using a straw and a spoon to consume it.

mote con huesilloWhat was so disappointing about the basic, unimaginative and unflavorful foods is that unlike most places in Latin America, in Chile you can drink the water. So in theory you could eat street food freely and happily without worry, just like in Thailand. But this comparison feels absurd, considering the delicious, spicy Pad Thai for a dollar versus fried dough and a cup of wheat and peach juice.

This brings me to our biggest frustration of all – the lack of international food. In Cambodia we had fairly authentic Mexican food, in Malaysia we had spot on British tea and scones. In Chile, any attempt at international cuisine is like eating a bowl of plastic fruits. It always looks so realistic, but once you bite down, there is no flavor at all. Look, the Brits, the Americans, the Germans, we all have boring traditional foods – that’s why we steal international cuisine and mix them all together and call it fusion. All Chile has to do is look north to Peru for fine examples of Japanese-Peruvian and Nouveau-Andean cuisines.

The only international food that Chile really seems to have gotten right was the Kuchen. That’s right, German cake. The Germans arrived to the Lake District en masse in the 19th century and their delicious cake recipes remain perfectly in tact today. Other than that, the dessert leaves much to be desired, with manjar-filled flaky pastries, alfajores and leche asada, which pretty much tastes like flan made of boogers.

cakeLook, Chileans do wine very well, and pisco sours, too (though Peruvians would say they stole it from them). They grow delicious avocados and we ate at least one a day every day for over three months.

pisco soursAnd of course there are some excellent chefs making magic throughout the country. We ate extremely well in San Pedro de Atacama, loved the pizza at Tiramisu in Santiago along with Le Fournil, the chain Cassis made great food and one of our top meals was a seriously delicious three course meal at La Marmita in Punta Arenas, as far south as you can get on the Chilean mainland.

Chile, your glaciers and geysers, penguins and sea lions, volcanoes, lakes and massive mountains mesmerized us. Just glance through these posts, and you’ll see how much we love you. We felt right at home in your cities and warmed ourselves on your beaches, vowing to spend a month here or there, or even to plan a GlobetrotterGirls Getaway here someday. And you can be sure that our feelings are genuine, since we stayed over 100 days with you in spite of, most definitely not because of, your food.

Have you been to Chile? What did you think of Chilean cuisine? Share in the comments below!

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845 Comments

  1. You girls are absolutely disgraceful, uncultured, rude, and downright ignorant. None of the food mentioned is food that the country is known for. Where did you eat? tourist places? cheap street restaurants? What kind of comment is the one you made about the mote con huesillo? “weird” just because YOU believe a dish is weird does not mean it’s a bad dish. You even mentioned it. You call yourselves “globetrotters” and go around eating out at the least adventurous or well researched food places in countries. Shame on you and shame on your whole brand. You went to a country and ate nothing but junk of course it was not going to be good. Donde estan las empanadas? Los porotos con riendas? Las papas a la diabla? Los completos? los asados? ya que mencionaron sandwiches, el ave palta? y todo el resto de la comida rica que falto por probar. Ustedes dan ASCO. Sinceramente, una chica de padres chilenos y puertorriquenos. Nosotros si sabemos de comida.

    1. Listen dumbass, I have lived here in Chile for several years. I have traveled to and eaten in many, many more. Chile is a culinary disappointment. Get over it. You are the uncultured, rude, and downright ignorant person here, which leads me to believe that you must be somewhat….Chilean.

      1. Your opinion is certainly not an authority. You can say Chilean food “sucks”, but your assessment does not mean anything. Coming from someone who needs to express dislike by offending an entire country minimises your goal. THAT alone says a lot about your character, taste and cultural provenance. In my humble opinion to say “I don’t like Chilean food” will go a lot further than to say “Chilean food sucks”. Call it semantics, but I doubt you would, I am afraid you don’t know what that means.

  2. You know NOTHING about Chilean food and your article was a fine example of why people think Europeans and Americans have sticks so far up your own asses you can’t even see straight… the amount of uppity know-it.-all-even-though-I’m-a-tourist bullshit you girls spat out was un-fucking.believable.
    This is why people in latinamerican countries dislike tourists.
    Because you’re rude and ignorant, and talk with authority about shit you clearly know nothing about.
    There is excellent food over here. I’m a cook and I’ve been a culinary student for years. Our culture has so much mix that we incorporate spices from all over the world. I have no idea what you mean when you say there is no spice. Ají de color is a condiment that has literally no actual spice at all. Churrascos, chorrillanas and completos are junk kinda food and it is NOT TRADITIONAL at all. It’s just cheap and available. There is TONS of other kinds of peppers that pack in a bigger punch than jalapeños and habaneros mixed together. There so many other options to go for instead of all that shit you choose and decided to label as “chilean food”, where did you even find those places? I mean it’s not even THAT hard to find freakin awesome places to eat great food, so many people from abroad do so and leave with an awesome culinary experience besides all the natural wonders that this land offers, you just gotta be smart and willing enough to look beyond the tourist guides, talk to real locals and respect the place you’re using to cement your “globetrotter” persona… so again, your ignorance is pretty crystal clear. This country has tons of awesome people doing awesome food on the streets, in small restaurants and businesses, but that’s for the eyes and palettes of people with no prior judgment, an open mind and a humble heart, none of which you seem to have.
    Do your research before steppin into a culture to then proceed and talk massive crap about it, and maybe getting ride of that horrible attitude might take you to places where you find real things and maybe, just MAYBEVnot just use traveling as an excuse to sound worldly.

    1. Look guys,

      Face it, your food sucks compared to what you produce and export out of the ground. No imagination and what Chile considers a “great typical dish”, sucks. Get used to it.

      I have lived here for 4 years and the food continues to suck. The variety of food sucks (except seafood when there is no red-tide) when the irresponsible greedy Salmon exporters break the rules. Empanadas suck, salads suck, deserts suck, and need someone with some talent let’s say from Peru to teach people how to cook.

  3. Even worse, I have lived in Bordeaux, Burgundy regions, Napa US, and South Africa and there is a very high end restaurant community the accumulates around fine wine which Chile has !

    So why does the food suck ? Pairing good food with good wine product, i.e. village cru, premium cru, gran cru and restaurants that understand how to cook unlike a primitive ape should follow.

    Consider France, South Africa, Australia….Chile ???? nada..export everything, no artisanal growers, only corporations trying to penetrate markets (same in a way with you fish.)

    Get some culture (and not German Hotdogs or Pork as the famous dish)

  4. Oh My god! Tough pastel the choclo??? You do realize that in pastel the choclo the corn is actually blended then cooked right. You also realize that it’s made with ground beef right. Do you feel ridiculous yet? I would.

  5. and then boil to death with zero spices (other than salt which everyone uses to excess) because of the suckinss of the food.

  6. Lia is most likely Chilean and has basically no culture nor sampled any food where there was any sort of imagination. Outside of 1700 Spain and the Mapuches basic diet, their really is not food culture here. Chile should stop hating everyone around them and learn how to cook.

  7. Well dear Kalbertine, I am certainly Chilean, however, the pleasure of knowing the taste of foods from other countries is not one of my shortcomings. As I read your comment I can’t help but to wonder why your your comments is so ignorant AND mistaken. It is pure assumption (you know what they say about assuming things) I am sure you don’t care to know that I have tried foods from all over the world, and, not because I have been to every single country, but because while studying abroad I had the opportunity to try food made by my classmates from the 7 continents. We had a cultural group we created to do just that, try our different foods and learn from our cultures. Kalbertine, I don’t need to tell you that you continue to be wrong but also rude. And, the fact that you are a teenager doesn’t give you a pass either. Given that fact I will not longer honor your comments with an answer. I have better things to do with my time.

    1. you probably were born poor and don’t have culture and are used to eating what low class chileans eat. you have to expand your palate and try new things. all the photos you posted clearly show how you didn’t go anywhere else. you’re literally the worst person in the world.

  8. just to let you know Chile may derive its name from a Native American word meaning either “ends of the earth” or “sea gulls”; from the Mapuche word chilli, which may mean “where the land ends;” or from the Quechua chiri, “cold”, or tchili, meaning either “snow” or “the deepest point of the Earth”. Not because is spicy, so ignorant.

  9. I ‘m a peruvian gastronomy student, and I think you guys are pretty ignorant. I’ve argued with chileans about food before, because it just happens, but Chilean food appeals to THEIR palates, not everything has to taste European. And I’m 1000% sure native latin-americans don’t give a damn about muh health food. If you want salads or ‘excellent pizza’ just move to Italy or something. If you want to travel the world, you gotta keep an open mind and def NOT expect european fusion cuisine everywhere you go.

  10. HaHaHa … Oh wo… Wait hahaha. That made me laugh. You think Chile the country is named that way cuz it has spicy foods, wow. They do have chile and peppers in Chile but they call it different from other Latin countries just like beans and avocados have a different name in Chile … HaHaHa I don’t even know why I kept reading.

  11. I am a chelian born and raised. I tell you right now that you 2 insult our country. You have the privilege of going up and down the country. You probably didn’t even bother to talk to the natives.when you go to a country to try their food, don’t go to restaurant. You talk to the locals and get to know them. They know how to cook. Knowing my chelian people , they will invite you and have a party with foods and then you’ll know the real food . The chelian don’t eat at restaurants, because we don’t need to. The hot dog thing is another i nsult. You do know that America has the worst hot dogs. Ketchup and hotdogs what is that? Put onions on makes look like a piece of crappie. You 2 are probably the only people I have ever heard say that our food sucks. What about American food hammers, pizza, hotdogs, and fried chicken that’s in every restaurant I have ever been to.

  12. Im impressed how 2 women treat so bad and even expresss roudly about other culture and attack for free. Nobody here is saying that chilean food is at the level of france or italy. They have thousends of years of historiy, so instead of showing that you both are travellers, show a little bit of culture and education, if you have.
    Your blog sucks and all what is written here. The respect is important and all I think is that you didnt have the minimiun of education to undersant it. Too much travel affected your intelligence, thats for sure.

  13. This is so sad, where did you go? Did you ate at street? So here is your reality: you ate in some cheap place because you are poor and ignorant (you think our country called like that because the food). Better stay in your country eating McDonals and wanting war and do not come never again , you only mess our streets.

  14. The authors seem extremely biased both in their limited “sample” and negative assessment of the food they tried in Chile. As some earlier commentators already said:
    1. There are lots of other (truly) Chilean dishes that are not mentioned in the article (e.g. What about the wide and rich variety of seafood dishes, such as paila marina, locos, empanadas de mariscos, chupe de lapas, albacora a la mantequilla, mariscal, pastel de jaiba…?)
    2. As in most countries, you need to know where to eat good quality food. For example, you can get empanadas almost anywhere in Chile, but do you really think they are all the same? Local people know where to find the good stuff. Sadly, uninformed tourists are left with the worst stuff.
    3. Their being vegetarian certainly didn’t help. It’s true: Chilean food is at its best when good quality meat (mainly beef, but also lamb), fish and seafood are the centre of the dish.
    4. As for flavours, there is much more than the bland ají they described: what about pebre (similar to Argentinian chimi churri) or cacho de cabra or mequén?
    5. Chilean sandwiches are a different chapter altogether: unusual combinations of vegetables, cheeses and different types of meat, seasoned with pebre or mayonnaise, washed down with a local “shop” (local draft beer)… Give me that over Macdonalds anytime! Again, you need to know where to go for the best!
    6. Last but not least, I personally totally disagree with their assessment of queso fresco (white cheese) and humitas… The stuff I missed the most since I left Chile 15 years ago…
    All in all, their review is ill-informed, partial and, sadly, written in a rather immature and offensive tone.

  15. I’m American but have lived in many different places and visited family in many different European countries. I’ve also lived in Chile, where my husband is from.
    One thing , among many about this post, that are as disappointing as your opinion of Chilean food is that you didn’t mention any desserts in detail. Did you even try brazo de reina, or torta de mil hojas, or alfajores?
    I think you’re comparing Chilean food to Argentine food too much. Why? They’re two very different cultures.
    Another thing is the really good food there usually isn’t sold. It’s made by families to share amongst each other, with their family’s recipes.
    While they don’t have anything on Italians, they’re food doesn’t suck. You just have to know their culture for more than the 10 days you were there.

  16. Horrible writing and you must really not know how to order foods or as mentioned before are traveling on a budget. You are traveling along the coast and the seafood options are endless. Meats are tasty and vegetables are also very rich in flavor. This article has got to be one of the worst written articles I have ever read. Reconsider your blogging career or hobby .

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