Chile – Mestizo Food

Today, social classes in Chile are based on wealth, not on ancestry. But most members of the small, rich upper class are of European descent. Indian and Spanish descent is called `Mestizos’. They make up most of the middle class and about 75% of Chile’s population. The lower class consists of mainly poor mestizos and most of Chile’s Indians. All Chileans speak Spanish, the country’s official language.

“Mine is a typical mestizo family”, Pablo says, “which means we eat typical middle class mestizo food. In my family, for breakfast, we traditionally ate crusty, homemade bread (like French bread); Porrotos (any variety of beans or lentils) cooked into some kind of casserole; corn cakes (different varieties); fresh vegetable salad; milk and fruits (grapes, strawberries, peaches, apricots). Of course those were the days when women had more time to prepare homemade stuff. There were more nannies helping out in the kitchen”, says Pablo.

His mother was a good cook and was of Aymara Indian ancestry. And she would mostly prepare healthy vegetable dishes from age-old Indian family recipes as well as from European ones. The traditional Chilean meal, as she would prepare for her family, consisted of Porrotos Graneados (thick bean soup); rice or bread; a main Vegetable Dish-sauted or baked (any one or a combination of the following: cauliflower, artichoke, broccoli, cabbage, beetroot, zucchini or spinach). There would be Empanadas (fried pastry turnover with filling- -similar to Samosas) Pastel de Choclo; Pastel de Papa and fruits. Chileans like to start a meal with a thick soup or stew and finish it off with a creamy dessert. For desserts, there are varieties of flans, custards, Budin (sweet corn cakes) or Arroz de Lache (rice and milk cooked in sugar and rich cream).

Empanadas are a great Chilean favorite but of course nowadays they contain minced meat and chicken flakes. Hundreds of years ago, Empanadas were made simply with vegetables and fruits: potatoes, fresh peas, mushrooms, chopped dried grapes or apricots”, says Pablo. Dinner is much the same as lunch.

Chileans like to start a meal with a thick soup or stew and finish it off with a creamy dessert.

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