breakfast, lunch, and dinner in Chile?
September 19, 2009 10:37 AM   Subscribe

You are a resident of Chile. What do you eat?

I want to spend a month eating like a Chilean. I ordered this book , but want to do some research before it arrives. Some specific questions are below, but any related info would be of interest!

1. What are the eating schedule and rituals (early dinner vs late dinner; small meals vs large meals; utensil use vs eating by hand)?
2. What would typical days of food (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks) look like (including, for instance, when you don't necessarily want to cook, but just throw something together)?
3. Do you drink water, tea, wine, beer?
4. What's in your pantry?
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel to Food & Drink (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I am not Chilean, but I spent a month in Chile the summer I was 16, two weeks of which were spent living with a Chilean family.

The family I lived with had a small breakfast, usually bread and cheese/jelly/manjar or yogurt and cereal with tea or juice. Lunch, which was sent to school with the kids, was the biggest meal of the day and was hot. When we got home from school in the early evening, we had a snack (called "once") that was similar to breakfast. Dinner was a small meal (a sandwich for example) eaten at around 9pm.

I don't remember specifics about what we ate, except that my host family did not eat a lot of fruit and vegetables (though the fruit I did have was delicious). For one meal, we had spaghetti with tomato sauce and a fried egg. Salads usually had iceberg lettuce and were dressed with oil, salt, and pepper. The empanadas were delicious, and always had a single raisin, single black olive, and half a hard boiled egg.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 11:32 AM on September 19, 2009

I am told chileans live on completos and they buy avocados by the ten-pound sack, but they are a different type of avocados than we usually eat in the norte america.
posted by jeb at 2:16 PM on September 19, 2009

Actual chilean here.

What are the eating schedule and rituals (early dinner vs late dinner; small meals vs large meals; utensil use vs eating by hand)?

Dinner: 8 - 9 PM, large meals. Most chileans always use utensils, even when eating pizza or a sandwich.

2. What would typical days of food (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks) look like (including, for instance, when you don't necessarily want to cook, but just throw something together)?

Breakfast: cold cereal with milk, or bread with avocado or cheese or ham, maybe some tea. Other people drink coffee.
Lunch: Meat + carbs, or maybe pasta e.g.: Meat with rice, spaghetti with tomato sauce. When I'm lucky, Cazuela de Ave. In the summer, maybe Pastel de Choclo or Humitas. I have a peruvian maid twice a week, so when she's here Aji de Gallina, etc. Soda or water. Some sort of dessert.
"Once": around 6 or 7, bread and avocado ('palta'), cheese, jam or something. Tea or coffee. If it's a big once, you might skip dinner.
Dinner: Similar to lunch.
Snack: sandwich, bowl of cereal.

3. Do you drink water, tea, wine, beer?
I drink water, tea, beer and bourbon. Most people drink wine and pisco, as well.

4. What's in your pantry?
Pasta, chinese noodles, flour, spices, thai rice, indian rice, cookies, crackers, canned tuna for my cat, lots of other stuff.

Let me know if you have other questions.

sidenote: re: jeb: we like completos but hardly "live" on them. Chilean avocados are pretty similar to Californian ones. We don't really buy anything in 10 pound sacks. Usually individual avocados or 1 Kg sacks.
posted by signal at 8:33 PM on September 19, 2009

Forgot the fish: We (my family) eat a lot of Sushi, usualyy once a week, plus some fried Congrio or Merluza once a week or so.
posted by signal at 8:37 PM on September 19, 2009

Also also: if you have a big-enough-to-skip-dinner Once, it's called "Once-comida".
posted by signal at 8:53 PM on September 19, 2009

signal's real-life schedule and menu selection is definitely what I encountered in Chilean hotels. The thing that threw me off was the cold cuts for breakfast. It makes sense--ham and avocado on bread is a perfectly good meal in terms of balance--but my US-centric palate was surprised is all.

The other challenge for me, as a tourist, was getting my usual amounts of fruit and vegetables (this was true in Argentina as well). Having every meal be protein + carb was a bit of a challenge for my US-centric digestive system.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:48 PM on September 19, 2009

Wow what a fun question! I could and may go on forever...

I'm not Chilean but I do live in Chile and eat almost all meals with Chileans.... I can offer an outsiders perspective on food in daily life in Chile.

My main comment/difference from signals is in my experience "dinner" is rare. Breakfast is usually bread with butter/jam/manjar/etc... bread with something and either tea or instant coffee.... roughly whenever you wake up.

Lunch is HUGE. I can't believe how much people eat for lunch, as its normally way more than my body can comfortably handle. In general I think people eat a variety of meats, pastas, etc... often containing large side portions of rice, potatoes prepared in a variety of ways, etc...

In the evening I find "onces" the norm and dinner, or dinner+onces, a special occasion. Like the others mentioned, onces is almost always tea with bread with various spreads or slices of meat, avocado, cheese, scrambled eggs with tomato, etc...

I prefer to eat dinner and will prepare it when at my house, but when I'm elsewhere in the evenings I have found "dinner" rare. If dinner is had, its often because lunch was missed, is something kind of snacky like pizza, etc..

Truthfully, I find everyday Chilean food rather bland. Salt and lemon juice are the most frequent flavors added, especially to salads, and oil (often just normal cooking oil) is added to salads, avocado, and tomatoes. However the "traditional" meals do tend to have a lot more flavor than the everyday lunch.

SO MUCH MAYONNAISE. People eat mayo on evvvverything. From potatoes, to rice, to lobster. However most people buy it in bags instead of jars which I think is really convenient. I made hummus and my guests put mayonnaise on the hummus.

I have rarely had a lunch "thrown together" as theres kind of a bigger focus on it and it requires preparation, I have never been served a sandwich or scraps or miscellaneous leftovers. Breakfast and onces and snacks can be easily thrown together with breads and such.

Snacks include random things like fruit, chips, candy, olives, bread with something... but I dont think its as common to snack or have multiple small meals throughout the day.

In the pantry: I wont talk about mine because it would be a huge outlier. Most people don't have the fridge and pantry as stuffed as families in the US. The fridge and pantry usually contain miscellaneous things used in cooking and baking that dont expire soon, along with some eggs, condiments, butter, milk, and veggies that will be frequently used, etc.. However, its pretty common that someone will go to the store before the lunch hour and buy the specific ingredients for that day's lunch. Huge grocery shopping trips are less frequent, as also more people use public transportation or walk to buy food

Some interesting observances:
--Many people here think the inside of bread (opposite of crusts) makes you fat and will pull it out and throw it away.

--Soda or tea with every meal. Wines and beers common in the evenings, weekends, social gatherings, etc... Peanuts (salted or with merken/merquen?) or black olives are common table snacks to accompany drinking

--Completos are more of going-out/midnight munchies/etc food. Sopaipillas (small fried tortillas with pumkin ingredient.. especially on rainy days), pastries, kebabs, and empanadas are typical street food. Home BBQs are common on holidays and weekends.

--Fish is not as common as you would think (/I would hope) being so close to the ocean. I had it a lot in tourist moments while traveling and eating out, but rarely in homes (with the one main exception being a relative's house we travel to that lives on the ocean and dives for shellfish)

--I have very very rarely seen anybody drink a plain glass of milk or water at a home.

--Small children are given really sugary juices and sodas at an early age and frequently.

--I'm actually vegetarian. A large majority of people here have no idea what that is, and find it difficult to grasp. When told that " I don't eat meat from animals" (sounds redundant in translation but I try to make it simple and clear)... most people offer me ham. Some special dishes people have tried to prepare especially for me as a vegetarian have been beef soup, chicken soup, and endless ham sandwiches. It gets awkward. I lived half a year with a vegetarian Chilean family, who had some excellent adaptations to traditional Chilean meals.

--Using utensils is pretty on par with my experience in the US, with very few foods being finger foods (the completo, pizza, being obvious exceptions). However, the average person will keep their napkin on the table during the meal. I was brought up to put it in my lap, and when I do so, someone will usually give me another new napkin on the table. Without realizing I often end up with a stash of napkins in my lap. Napkins in common restaurants are horrible and resemble squares of wax paper.

--Pastries often disappoint me, they are not as rich in flavor as I hope... and often have more of a bready taste than I expect. (though i'll admit high expectations, I used to work in a specialty pastry shop before moving here)
posted by nzydarkxj at 11:59 PM on September 22, 2009

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