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Gap Year Abroad

6 posts categorized "Food and Drink"



“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.” Orson Welles

Being in a completely new country the amount of new things that you have to adapt to can be a little overwhelming sometimes. Everything is new from the language, customs, and people, to the schedule, values and environment…but most importantly the food!

Adjusting to the type of food Chileans eat hasn’t been a breeze. The United States is such a melting pot of cultures, so it’s hard to categorize one type of food that is solely known as typical American food. Growing up I was exposed to a wide range of foods from a variety of areas, including Indian, Thailand, China, Mexico and even Ethiopia. That is why I would say the hardest thing to acclimate to is the lack of variety as far as food here. Chilean food is simple, without a lot of spices or a ton of different ingredients in one dish.

I am not a picky eater so there aren’t a lot of specific foods I miss terribly from the States but there are just a couple that come to mind. No worries, the world didn’t come to an end when I got here. Chileans love their sushi, so there are plenty of options on that end. But here it seems very rare to have a big salad as a meal. My family always has lettuce on the table but it is never the main dish. So I'm definitely missing the “big salad” meal and my wonderful Sweetgreen runs with my friends back home. I also really miss hummus. After asking a couple of people Anna and I were told that there was this one place in Viña that made hummus so we went and bought some. Unfortunately I don’t think what we bought would be categorized as hummus in the States. It was just watery mashed up garbanzos, without any sort of flavor, really disappointing. We were able to go to Lider, the big grocery store that has some specialty foods, like peanut butter, that the local grocery stores don’t have, and buy all the ingredients for hummus! I also had a craving for quinoa so one night I decided to make a big quinoa salad with some veggies from the market- tomato, avocado, corn, scallions- and my family loved it! I also made it last night for the small birthday party the CIEE kids had for Maggie, and it was devoured within 10 minutes! 



A big part of Chilean culture is centered around food. Like I’ve mentioned before, meal times are spent with the family. Everyone gets together to catch up, talk, laugh and eat. The meal times are different from the typical United States’ meals. Breakfast is pretty much the same, except on weekends there is no big breakfast like there might be in the States. But here lunch is the big get together meal followed by dinner or “once”, which is usually just tea, coffee and some bread with avocado, cold cuts and cheese.

As far as food in general I really thought I would be eating a lot more fish since we are right on the coast, but that hasn’t exactly been the case. For protein my family eats a lot of chicken or beef. And as you can probably guess to go with that protein we eat a lot of rice and potatoes. But aside from that I’ve had some really delicious soups with lentils or garbanzo beans.

One thing I love about Chile is the fruit and veggies! Every Wednesday and Saturday there is a big fruit and vegetable market (feria de frutas y verdudas), which is where all the locals come to sell their fruit and vegetables. In my house there is a big bowl that is always filled with apples, oranges, bananas, kiwis, and, of course, avocados! I’ve also been enjoying different vegetables such as beets (remolacha) and artichokes (alcachofa), which I wasn’t necessarily a fan of in the States!

I’ve tried some new delicious typical Chilean dishes here as well!

Of course a classic is the empanada. An empanada is simply a typical pasty, stuffed with a variety of different foods, which can include meats, fish, cheese and/or vegetables. The typical empanada here is called Empanada de Pino, which is filled with ground meat, onions, raisins, hard boiled egg, and an olive. I’ve been told that in Concón, two towns over from Viña, there are the best shrimp empanadas, so I look forward to heading over there sometime soon to do some sand boarding on the dunes and afterwards grabbing a warm shrimp empanada! 

Empanada_carnePhoto Cred to dateungusto27yess.blogspot

Another typical Chilean dish I’ve had is called Charquicán. It is a stew-like dish filled with potatoes, squash or pumpkin, onions, corn and peas and sometimes served with a fried egg on top. I think of it as the closets thing the Chileans have to curry but it really doesn’t have any spicy kick to it. It’s a really wonderful comfort food that packs a lot of veggies in one bite!  

1280327399856_fPhoto cred to Fotolog 

A typical soup served in Chile is called Cazuela. The soup consists of a liquid broth filled with either rice or noodles, (when my mom made it we had ABC noodles!) and big chunks of corn, potato, squash and a type of meat. A very filling meal! 

Photo cred to Gourmet 

The next typical Chilean dish is called Chorrillana and from my understanding this dish is more like an activity than just another meal to eat. It reminds me of the Vermonster from Ben and Jerrys. You are supposed to get a big group together and head out to a restaurant to eat it. It is a huge plate of French fries, topped with slices of meat, onions and eggs, something I would hope not just one person could finish. I haven’t tried it and don’t really have a strong urge to…. but I just thought I would mention it because it is part of the culture! 

Chorrillana_del_J_CruzPhoto cred to 

Another typical Chilean “street food” is the Completo. This is just like a hot dog but on top of the ketchup and mustard the Chileans add chopped tomatoes, onions, avocado and A LOT of mayonnaise. Yeah, don’t ask me….but they love it! 

ItalianoPhoto cred to The Clinic Online 

Lastly, my favorite new dish that I’ve tried here has been Pastel de Choclo. Pastel de Choclo is a super typical dish served at the campos. It’s made in one of those clay bowls, (made in Pomaire) and is a layering of ground meat, onions, strips of chicken, hard boiled egg, olive, and then on top sweet mashed up corn. The dish is baked in clay bowls so the top forms a wonderful golden crust. I love corn so naturally this has been my favorite new dish I’ve had here so far! I was so happy yesterday when my mom said she was making it for lunch. It takes awhile to prepare but it is so worth it! 


The Pastel de Choclo we had in Pomaire, soo good!! 

I love trying new things, and I'm sure that as I continue to explore Chile I'll find more delicious foods to taste everywhere I go!

Ciao for now! 



"If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear religion and avoid the people,  you might better stay at home."  James Michener

This weekend my friend Anna and I decided to take a trip to Santiago, the capital of Chile! Buses from Viña to Santiago run about every fifteen minutes, so on Friday Anna and I met at the bus station, bought an 8 dollar ticket to Santiago, and within 15 minutes were on our way! We arrived in Santiago around 5:00 pm and took the metro to where we would be staying. My aunt has friends who are living in Santiago and they were nice enough to let Anna and me stay for the weekend! We got to the apartment and settled in before heading out for dinner in the Santa Lucia area.  Living in Valparaíso, which is a port city, I thought we would be eating a lot more fish. But so far we really haven’t eaten much fish here so we were both thrilled when Cheryl and Ron, my aunt's friends, took us to this quaint restaurant that had some really tasty fish dishes! After dinner we walked around a little and happened upon a fun art exhibit that was in the street! We also made our way to the Plaza de Armas, which is the main plaza in Santiago, before heading back to the apartment for a warm cup of blueberry tea before heading to bed!

The art exhibit right in the middle of the street! Photo cred to Anna  

The next day we decided to check out the fresh fruit and veggie markets as well as the always smelly fresh fish market! The markets are unlike anything I’ve ever seen before! Really, my senses were on overdrive. Endless amounts of colorful, fresh produce, herbs, meat, fish, grains, you name it, they've got it in the market. We dodged through the crowded aisles as each person is on their own grocery shop mission. Our mission, aside from experiencing the markets and getting some fruit (both familiar and unfamiliar), was to get a nice piece of fresh fish for dinner. Of course with the vast amount of choices, this mission was more than easy to complete. 

Some pictures from the markets 



Aceitunas (Olives)

Fruta Seca (Dried Fruit) 




After the markets we decided to explore some of the classic places in Santiago. We walked to Plaza de Armas, which was hopping! We walked around and enjoyed a puppet show as well as some live music! 


"Mira un tiburón!" ("Look a shark!") 

We then made our way over to the Bellavista area. We had lunch in the Patio Bellavista, which is a cute area with a lot of shops and restaurants! 


After lunch we headed to Cerro San Cristóbal, where we decided to take the funicular (an outside elevator) up the hill where we saw a beautiful view of Santiago! 

View from the funicular 

View from the top!  CIMG1211

After that we wandered and made our way back home. Once home we enjoyed a wonderful dinner that included the fish we bought from the market as well as a fruit I had never had before called a guanabana. The guanabana tasted tropical, like a mild pineapple mixed with coconut, and had a pear-like texture.1377343_10202190569029173_2128333763_n

The next day Anna and I woke up to a wonderful breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon. It was the perfect taste of home! We then walked up Cerro Santa Lucía. We wandered around the top exploring different areas and taking pictures. We even ran into another Placa de Darwin! 


After that Cheryl and Ron had the fabulous idea of heading to the little town of Pomaire, known for their clay dishes! So we hopped in the car and drove about an hour until we arrived at Pomaire. When we got there we were all hungry so our first stop was lunch! We sat down at a traditional restaurant and had a typical Chilean meal, pastel de choclo and all!

Pastel de Choclo! 

Enormous meat platter! 

After lunch we sauntered from store to store admiring the unique handmade crafts. In one ceramics store, we even saw a man working on a pottery wheel creating a pot!


After that we bought a Mote con Huesillo and headed back to Santiago. Mote con Huesillo is a traditional Chilean drink made with mote, which is a type of wheat or barley and huesillos, which are dried peaches! The drink was actually quite good, not too sweet and very refreshing!


Photo cred to "" 

Once we got back to Santiago, Cheryl and Ron dropped us off at the bus station. Anna and I bought tickets back to Viña, and within a half an hour we were on the bus, waving goodbye to Santiago.

One thing I learned from the weekend is that Santiago is huge! I for sure didn’t get to see all of the city but I am glad I still got a taste of what the capital is like!

Up next, San Pedro de Atacama! Next weekend is the big CIEE gap group trip to San Pedro de Atacama. I am very excited to leave the central region of Chile and explore the north for a bit!

Ciao for now! 



Cooking with Cheer

Cocinado con Pedro
Ingredients required:
-A knowledgable Spanish chef
-A cozy apartment
-A tiny kitchen
-Lots of laughter
-A sense of humor 


    Hello everyone! I figured I'd take a break from my usual trip to the gym to bring you this belated blog post.  Back to the kitchen we go- last week, me and 8 other gap girls signed up for a free Spanish cooking class.

    Let me just repeat that- Free. Cooking. Class. There was no way I wasn't going.. luckily, Pedro, our instructor, was nice enough to make enough food for a village (although 9 hungry teenage girls can do work, there was definitely leftovers!) 
We made Salmorejo, a typical Andalucían cold soup similar to Gazpacho, and Arroz Campanero, similar to Paella but much simpler- perfect for anyone interested in dabbling in Spanish cooking without slaving the kitchen for hours. Of course, we took an even lazier route and helped Pedro here and there, but for the most part, we watched his amazing knife skills and let him do most of heavy stuff. Hint: Click on the words to get recipes that I've found on google for you if you want to try the recipes for yourself.
The class was a blast, and something I would definitely do again. Although I'm dying to learn how to make Paella, the process is intense and Arroz Campanero is just as delicious and much faster. I personally would omit the oyster mushrooms but to each his own! 
This Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I will be in Morocco, so expect some exotic blog posts this weekend. 



Hayley and Emma getting down to business! 


Our post-cooking feast- ahem, dinner.

Steph and Salmorejo vs. Hannah's shielding hands!


Sevilla- Begin Again

Hello again, everyone!


After a very relaxing (albeit boring) month at home, it's great to finally be in Sevilla. Especially after surviving my three flights- a nine hour one to London, then five hours to Madrid, then after seven extremely long and painful pleasemaketheplanecomealready hours, I arrived in Sevilla around nine-thirty. It was amazing to see all my friends again, and I had a great time at dinner.

That first night for tapas, we had:

  • french fries covered in a garlic aioli 
  • pork in a whiskey-reduction sauce with french fries
  • fried hot dogs
  • ...and more french fries

The food here is absolutely delicious in comparison with the Chilean food. My host family took me out for lunch and I couldn't stop raving about the food... 

I met them for the first time today an hour late after a slight mix-up.. somehow the program coordinator confused Mel and I (like that's never happened before...) and I ended up having to wait at the hotel until the whole situation was resolved, but luckily my host family was very gracious about everything! I'm living with a younger couple and their 3 year old son and 1 year old daughter, and having a blast. Sevilla is absolutely beautiful, and I'm really looking forward to our tour tomorrow.







Open air market trip



After local produce was brought up in conversation last night, my host parents graciously invited me today to the local farmer’s market. At first glance, it seems like a bunch of haply strewn tents in a random field, but it turns out it’s actually a bustling hive of energy. There are vendors yelling out prices, kids running up and down the aisles, and people comparing prices and inspecting the crop everywhere. Although there are many fruit kiosks and shops in Chile, and it is sold in every supermarket, the open air market is nearly 1/3 of the price of the fruit sold elsewhere. And the market is only open on Saturdays and Wednesdays, so naturally it’s crammed full of chilenos getting food for the week. Alongside the fruits and vegetables, there's a large variety of seafood as well. It was a great experience for me, and my host mom bought a mango for me as we were walking out. We had it with chirimoya as soon as we got back, and I loved the unique cultural experience overall. I already told my host mom I'd be accompanying her next week as well!




Santiago De Chile

As I mentioned previously, Hayley, Mel and I went to Santiago this weekend. We left Friday morning, and had a great time. A basic summary of our trip-


After a two hour bus ride, we arrived in Santiago and took the metro to get to our hostel. We checked in, had lunch there, and relaxed before heading out and walking around and seeing some of Santiago for ourselves. One of the more interesting things we found was a bridge where couples had attached locks to the sides of the bridge and painted little notes to each other on the sides of the bridge- some of the inscriptions were so old that they had started to fade! After that, we ended up finding an amazing artisan fair, with lots of local and home-grown organic products. For our dinner, Hayley found a stand that was selling whole-wheat vegan empañadas filled with cheese and sautéed vegetables- it was a great take on the typical Chilean empañadas and absolutely delicious.



We began the day by eating breakfast at our hostel, and then took the metro to Parque Los Dominicos. There, we picked up our 5K Las Mujeres Corremos race registration packets and some delicious raisins at a farmers market before heading back to the hostel. We then went to Fantasilandia, which is a large amusement park. It was definitely an interesting experience (as I’ve never been taller than an entire crowd before, that’s a new one) but it was worth it when we got to ride some awesome rollercoasters. After that, we headed back to the hostel to meet Hayley’s cousin, Mark. He works at the US Embassy in Santiago and although he had never met Hayley before, it was wonderful to meet his wife and 3 month old baby, Matthew. They were extremely polite and we had a great dinner in a restaurant off of Calle Bellavista with them. We were tuckered out and jumped into bed as soon as we got back to our hostel.


We woke up early to get ready for the race, and then took a colectivo (local black and yellow taxi) to Parque Los Dominicos. We had a great time doing Zumba as a warm up for the race, and running it as well. Hayley actually finished 25th out of  3,500 people which is absolutely amazing! Mel and I finished closer to 300th place.. but who's counting?! After the race, we enjoyed free bananas and oranges and a cooldown stretch. It was a great experience overall, and I'm sure we'll be signing up for more 5Ks and races in the future.


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