Something About Chile

Daniela Lopez

What kind of food is eaten in Chile?


Chile is a long country, occupying nearly 2700 miles of the western coastline of South America. It has different climates from desert to mediterranean to cool and damp. As a result, Chile’s food is largely dominated by seafood and fresh produce.


Seafood is a principal food in every Chilean’s diet. There is shellfish such as “loco” (abalone), “erizo” (sea urchin) and “piure” (an unusual red invertebrate) join more widely known fish, including sardines, salmon, congrio (conger eel) and atún (yellowfin tuna). Many restaurants serve these dishes simply grilled, fried or roasted, and traditional seafood recipes include “paila marina” (shellfish stew), ceviche and caldillo (fish stew).

Meat is also one of a important meal for Chilean people. Roasted lamb, beef barbecue, sausage rolls, pork ribs and chicken are widely available throughout Chile. The menus usually include a number of casseroles made with ground meats, but “empanadas” (meat turnovers), considered the national dish of Chile, reign as the favorite.

Chile’s temperate central region is ideally situated for growing fruits and vegetables, and fresh produce is abundant in this region and in Chile’s large cities. Palta (avocado) is grown throughout Chile. Tomatoes and onions are other overwhelmingly popular and readily available vegetables. The nation’s most important crops include grapes, plums, apples, pears, onions, corn, peaches, garlic, asparagus and beans.


Paila Marina                                                                                      Empanadas                                                                                  Uvas (grapes)

Meals in Chile often feature simply prepared meat or seafood served alongside rice or potatoes typically mashed or fried.  Talking about grains, the corn, an indigenous crop of Chile, is used in a number of traditional Amerindian recipes. Favorite dishes include humitas (pureed corn cooked in husks) and pastel de choclo (meat pie topped with a sweet corn crust).