Cooking and eating are two of my favorite things to do, so when I heard we were going to have the opportunity to learn how to make traditional Chilean dishes with an amazing local chief, I was more than ecstatic!
We started our day pretty early and were greeted by a large pile of colorful vegetables and the menu for the day: Pebre, Chilean salad, Vegan empanadas, La Cazuela de Ave, and traditional Chilean bread. To start, everyone picked the station that interested them most and either began chopping vegetables or mixing the ingredients foor the bread. Making enough food to feed a large group of people is no joke! We spent approximately the next hour chopping, kneading the dough, and sharing stories from our week. More than 30 hands were in action making this feast a reality, which to be honest was a little chaotic.
This workshop was also an opportunity for some to get a little artistic as a handful of students tested there hand in making braided bread and sealing the empanadas with the traditional trenzita edge. After fiestas patrias (read more about this awesome celebration in Isaac's blog post), I did not realize there was such thing as vegan empanadas as the ones during the week before was anything but. Being able to make traditional recipes that everyone could enjoy no matter their diet was really cool. No one had to pass up on the experience. We were able to use olive oil instead of an egg wash with both the bread and the empanadas and it was just as good.
La Cazuela de Ave was the only dish that not everyone could enjoy. This meal is a type of stew that is very common in the winter in Chile. It contains chicken, squash, potato, garlic, carrot, onion, cilantro, and other spices. I personally enjoyed the Canzuela quite a bit, much healthier than the soups I eat back home but in no way lacking in flavor. Pebre is very similar to pico de gallo but with ours we added a bit of spice with merken, a traditional spice of the Mapuche, a group of indigenous people from the south of Chile. Also, a traditional Chilean salad I learned does not always have lettuce. The salad we served only had tomato, onion, cilantro, and oil. Its the perfect lite side dish.
I personally think sharing in the traditional foods of any country or culture is an important part of getting to know that culture bread. The foods people eat can reflect simply just the climate in which they live or also have a deeper religious meaning as well. In any case, stuffing yourself with delicious food surrounded by friends is always a good time.