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The way to someone’s heart is through their stomach, and the way to upset an entire nation, at least the nation of Chile, is to criticize its cuisine.
I know this, because a post we wrote called Here’s Why Chilean Food Sucks which caused a massive stir. On our own site it went relatively unnoticed, but after it was picked up in South American food blog called Comosur it then gained traction, began spreading on social media and has now gone fairly viral.
Of course, I never, ever meant to offend the great people of Chile. Even the ones who have told me now to drink bleach, eat shit and die and never come back to the country because we are fat, gringa, lesbian sluts (note: possible future band name?). Below we have listed some of the comments, just a sprinkling of the hundreds of mixed results – some in support of us, some entirely outraged. Below these, you will find the Lessons I have Learned from this experience with infamy.
First, a few words to the thousands of Chileans visiting our site:
To the people of Chile, I would like to emphasize a few things:
1. We adore Chile – please see the list of posts below. There are LOT of positive posts about Chile on this website.
2. I know that you are a country, not a condiment, and it was simply a (very, very bad) play on words – the Chile vs Chili comment.
3. This is a website for all travelers, not just Chileans, and while I thank you for inviting us to come to your home to eat the homemade Chilean food, what we find out in restaurants throughout the country is very different.
4. Why does food have to be expensive to be good? Many people have argued that we were eating ‘inexpensive’ food and that a decent meal comes at certain price. We agree with you. But therein lies one of our key frustrations. When you travel full time, as we do, you can not eat expensive meals all the time. And unlike so many other countries around the world, when you go under $10 a plate, the food in Chile becomes…less desirable, when in other countries around the world, even simple meals can be seriously delicious. It is an issue of value for money.
5. Dani is German, so please stop calling her a fat American.
6. Let me as the big, stupid American take the fall. I understand what it is like to have people constantly beat up on your country. I lived abroad during all 8 of the Bush years and faced extreme hatred day in and day out. It is very easy to call us stupid Americans and that we know nothing.
7. You eat pizza, Chile. For all the people that got so down on me for writing about the pizza – it is everywhere in your country. It may not make the list of your ‘national foods’ but like the Chorillana and pasta pesto, it is on menus all around the country. Therefore, whether you like it or not, it is one of the foods that people come across when visiting your country.
8. We are vegetarian, so please stop telling us that we left out the meat dishes and seafood dishes. We know. And the people who read our site more than just for this one article, they all know that.
9. While I admit that I shouldn’t have used the word ‘sucks’, we are never going to love your food. Sorry.
10. We did not only eat in fast food places. In 100 days it would have been impossible to list all the places we ate. But as a tourist, without a home or a grandmother to cook you Chilean food, you often eat on the go. And even the local places that you claim we did not eat in (which we very often did) have the kinds of food we mention in the article.
11. You’ll see in the comments that Chileans agree with the point we were making.
12. We actually did eat in almost all the restaurants that have been recommended to us, we shopped every week at the La Vega Mercado during our time in Santiago. It is a lovely market. For tourists reading this, you really should go there.
13. We love your produce. It’s amazing. It’s fresh, better than so many other places.
14. We did not travel Chile with a ‘guide’. We had at least 20+guides on the various tours we did, we used Foursquare where local Chileans recommend restaurants in each town, we use travel blogs, local blogs, guidebooks, forums, talk to locals and get recommendations. So, there is no ‘guide’ you can blame for not showing us the best Chile has to offer.
15. When people travel, they often make comparisons. To compare the empanadas of various countries is natural, just as comparing public transportation systems, quality of roads, the beautiful landscapes (all of which Chile would arguably win compared to any other South American country).
Fran told us to get the sand out of our vaginas.
Julio, Rita and Jules insinuate that we are alcoholics who only go out at night and eat when we are wasted. I do not drink alcohol and Dani does only very rarely.
Valerii encourages us (for those who read Spanish) to watch the movie The Breakfast Club to get a real sense of what a shitty culture we Americans come from, using this as evidence as to why we should never, ever come back to Chile as we have humiliated the entire country.
I’ve heard from travel writers that you have to write about the positive things you find while traveling. But I do understand your frustration regarding food in Chile. I have been living in Chile for 3 years and I truly remember finding everything terribly tasteless for 8 months (more than 100 days.) After that time, I was eating pasta with a friend (who had just arrived) and I happened to comment how nice was the food and she laughed and said really? You have lost your sense of taste.
No offense Chileans, but your food (and I DON’T EVER eat street vendor’s food) is tasteless and overpriced. Although I have looked over and over again for cheese I have not found a good Chilean cheese. I (trust me) bought almost every cheese and they are flavorless.
I support your article 100% I live there and I think that Chilean cuisine is far from being world-class or even nice. I think that Chilean’s lack the ability to see what’s not working so well within their borders and that, also applies to food.
The Alejandra followed up with:
I also have to say that it is a SHAME that Chileans think that you have spend a lot of money to eat properly. This is just a reflection of their classicist culture “only the ones with money are allowed to eat nicely, live comfortably and be well educated”.
Normally around the world (and this applies in my country, which is not as “rich” as Chile is) street food is the best.
Diego – and hundreds of others – have told us not to come back anymore:
Girls, you really don’t taste THE REAL Chilean food!…REALLY? and even after that, you made a bad opinion about the food! All the food that you mentioned in this blog, here in Chile is almost like a snacks…you come to Chile to eat pizza? really?…is like if i go to Italy to eat Ceviche, it’s ridiculous isn’t? And if you don’t like the sea food, (maybe the principal culinary attraction in Chile), don’t come back anymore
Gerardo would like to rock us in the bedroom:
Seems that your loco guides were not the best ( and of course you did not try aji cacho de cabra, they say that is double spicy, when you eat it and when you are in the bathroom, lol. Did you even tried sex at least? We do rock in bed babe not in the kitchen.
A few people said things like:
Fuck you Gringoo!!! #eatshitfromChilewithlove
I think the main mistake you are doing here is not to recognize that your blog post is offensive to Chileans with that excessively harsh title. You can’t ask for respect when you are offending people on their pride and for free. So yeah… people will be violent on the comments.
Chilean Chef says:
You are so wrong. Dis you ever tried CAZUELA or MOTE con HUESILLO?. So you don’t even started with te chilean food. Take care with your comments, be sincerely. By th way, The USA food is the worst food that i ever tried , you put bbq sauce y everything, and that is disgusting.
Rigo has taken this post and everything we have ever written to mean that we find Latin Americans to be inferior. Nothing could of course be further from the truth. For those who read Spanish:
Cabros, ¿Saben cuál es el problema de fondo?: los gringos piensan que somos una mierda. Nos miran en menos, muy mal, como si fuéramos unos trogloditas. Vienen casi a hacer turismo antropológico acá. Lo mismo varios europeos. No se pueden sacar de la cabeza el tema de desarrollo/subdesarrollo. No debemos olvidar nunca la relación de poder que media entre nuestras culturas. Viva América Latina!
An expat living in Chile named Ori confirmed our opinion:
Thank you for this post. As a foreign living in Chile, the food has been by far the most traumatic and shocking thing i’ve had to live with. I remember that I had a few weeks in here, and was craving for some pancakes with bacon. Poor me, it’s been 4 years since I’ve arrived and I’ve never seen that kind of breakfast here. Nevermind the haters. Chileans tend to believe that they are the best of the better of the best (I’m not intending to sound redundant). They like things heavily salted, flavorless and most of all oily, fatty and simple. They charge you 7000 CLP for a salad that they don´t even bother to stir it up!!
Karen’s comment was refreshing:
First of all, if you are some stupid lesbians who tried to eat vegetarian food its going to end bad. You have no power here to say our food is terrible because you don’t even eat meat!!
So fuck yourselves with a soybean-burger and freeze to death in the USA with your junk food!!
Locals like J. were nice and agreed to disagree with us on some things:
It is true that good food in Chile is really hard to find. We pride ourselves of having great meals, but most of them you can only eat them at home, ’cause the cheap places that you can afford while backpacking it’s truly disappointing. If you compare our food to Peruvian or Argentinian it gets even worst. We barely consider vegetarian an option, much less vegan. And the meat we eat is just bad and tasteless.
This person says that she agrees, that unlike neighboring countries, Chilean cuisine isn’t all that (In Spanish only).
Puta qué cierto! Yo le envidio a los peruanos y bolivianos lo orgullosos que están de sus tradiciones, de su comida, de sus raíces indígenas. Acá siempre estamos diciendo ‘si es chileno, es bueno’ y saltamos con agresiones a quienes critican a nuestro país, pero en el fondo, en el fondo, nosotros no lo valoramos ni lo respetamos ni lo aplaudimos. Yours if probably one of the few constructive comments.
Sadly, my fellow countrymen can be absolute assholes and neanderthals. I do agree with some that your comments are hurtful to our pride, but that does not entitle them to attack you galls like most of them are doing. please remember the Chileans you met while traveling, not the morons who are treating you like shit just ‘cus you said what many actually actually think.
One really friendly poster gave us this reference:
I invite you to look into what the people at Ñam (http://niamsantiago.cl) are doing for our cuisine, it’s really great. Even though they don’t make it very public, they treat international chefs to the wonders and variety of our country and they usually leave loving Chile and talking about it back home. Even the Roca’s, from the world known El Celler de Can Rocca, have been here and loved what we had to offer.
I really think you got cheated, food-wise, when you came here, and like I said on my comment down below, being vegetarian made things worst, since this is a country that eats mostly meat and seafood.
Next time you come to Santiago feel free to contact me and my girlfriend and I’ll try and show how good Chilean food can be. You have my e-mail 😉
Oh and once again, sorry for the assholes commenting here.
Three years in Chile said, in Spanish, that we were totally right, the food is plain and boring, be realistic. Whoever thinks that Chile is the ultimate in food should travel the world to understand what great food is out there (in a nutshell).
Estas niñas tienen toda la razón la comida en Chile es plana y aburrida , se debe ser realista. Y quienes creen que Chile es la ultima panacea en comida , los invito a viajar por el mundo y comer cosas ricas de verdad, con deliciosos condimentos, combinaciones y sabor. Y por ultimo Chilenos dejen de ser crecidos y acepten que la comida y atención en su país es muy mala.
The Lessons Learned
There have been many lessons learned from this post; about the outrage, Chilean pride, our place within the world of the internet, and the debate between journalism and blogging.
Lesson #1: Chileans are a very proud people
The truth is, when I wrote the article, I didn’t exactly have the Chilean people in mind. I was venting about our ordeal, our struggles, and those of several travelers we also met on the road. I admit that the title was entirely insensitive. But WOW! Chileans are very proud of their food and insulting is like directly insulting their grandmother’s cooking and then directly their culture and their country. I did not mean that in any way as we love Chile (please see lesson #2 below).
Lesson #2: Negativity spreads like wildfire.
Negativity spreads like wildfire and compliments hardly stick. For over a year we have done nothing more than compliment Chile. The only post that has ever gone viral was the ONE negative one we wrote. I list for you here all the articles where we talk about how incredible we think Chile is:
33 Things We Love About Santiago
Go Beyond Central Santiago
Sculptures of Santiago: A Photo Essay
GlobetrotterGirls Quick Guide to Santiago
Live and in Technicolor: Valparaiso is Chile’s Colorful Cultural Capital
A Blind Date with Chile’s Romantic Chiloe Island
Hotel Tip: Hosteria Yendegaia in Porvenir, Chile
Valparaiso’s Essence Can Be Found Among Its Dissidents
Hotel Tip: Casa Kreyenberg, Valparaiso, Chile
Struck by a Wave of Charm in Valdivia
Quirky Chile: Coffee with Legs
Home Sweet Home in Southern Chile: Following the Trail of German Immigrants
Pisco, Papaya and the Playa: La Serena and the Elqui Valley
How much does it cost to travel in Chile
Our Top Five Places to Visit in Chile
The Otherworldly Scenery of the Atacama Desert
Celebrating Spring at the Beach
San Pedro de Atacama, an oasis in the desert
From Pucon to Ushuaia: Our Trip through Patagonia
The Day We Hitchhiked to the End of the World
Flamingo in Chile’s Salt FlatsHotel Tip: Puerto Varas, Chile
An Homage to the Wind in Puerto Natalaes
Thank Goodness for Silver Linings…Rained Out in Pucon
Hotel Tip of the Week: Bosque Nativo Eco-Hostel, Valdivia, Chile
Polaroid of the Week: Sea Lion Attack in Valdivia Chile
Warming up to the Iquique Coastline in Northern Chile
Torres del Paine: Patagonia’s Essence in a Day
And yet this one post is the only post that has ever gone viral on the site.
Lesson #3: I need to listen to my heart as a writer
The third is that I had been listening to too many other people’s opinions about the site without listening to my own heart. Many fans and friends have been saying we need to cover more nitty gritty details, the negative sides of travel. That’s probably true. And every time we meet readers or online friends in real life, they always tell me that I need to try to be funnier, write in a less serious way. The takeaway: I can show the more nitty gritty details about travel without being offensive. I can (try) to be funny without taking the easy joke, like the one about Chile and Chili.
Lesson #4 The Ever-Raging Blogger vs Journalist Debate
Lastly, I have learned that the conflict between what makes a blogger versus a journalist is still raging. I consider us GlobetrotterGirls to clearly be travel experts (contrary to the list of awful comments here on this website now), and bloggers, travelers and nomads. I’ve never thought of this as a journalistic space.
As bloggers we are lending a different kind of thread to the fabric of the internet. It is a running thread – where we share our personal story, our personal experience, our feelings, our hopes and our lives out in the open for everyone to see.
A journalist covers specific stories in a very different way. That is why when I write a post that I don’t like Chilean food, it is part of an ongoing series of nearly 800 articles that our audience can read to understand the story of our lives and our travels. That doesn’t mean we don’t research. Anyone who knows us knows the copious notes and intense research we put in to the destinations we choose to visit. Even though I never intended for the infamous Chilean food post to be more than a quick frustration release, we researched Chilean food before arriving in Chile, during our time there and afterward to write each and every article on the country.
However, many of the reactions have been how unprofessional we are, how we are terrible journalists, and how lazy we are for writing this news. For us, this was just an opinion piece – hence the many lame jokes that really didn’t land.
While I want this website to be a reflection of us as people, the lesson that this blogger is taking away is that every single piece is a stand alone item that, when taken out of context, can be taken as news by others.
To our readers, the loyal ones from the past four years and the new ones who have left really great supportive comments here today, thank you. Thank you for sticking with us and being a part of this journey with us. We have dedicated ourselves to covering destinations around the world with passion, careful research and a love of discovering the world.
Rather than get bogged down in this negativity, and I admit to casting the first stone, I can’t help but think of Ellen Degeneres. While other comedians use cheap jokes and make fun of others to get a laugh, she has dedicated her life to spreading love and compassion through her comedy. Until recently, we had hardly said a bad word about anyone or anything on this website, focusing on the things we love, the hotels we recommend, the great experiences recommend rather than the crap hotels and things we didn’t like about certain places.
The passion for travel and experiencing the world is what drives me every single day to keep writing, and I will do this through positivity, keeping all people and the pride of entire nations in mind.
The biggest lesson of all, of course, is that, apparently, you should really try the seafood in Chile!
Now, what do you think?
Was the title too harsh? Should we change the title to Why Chilean Food Sucks For Vegetarians? Even if we know that so many people agree?