The cultural heart of Chile is also home to one of the country’s most important ports, so when you think food in Valparaíso, think seafood. One local favorite is sea urchin. At first glance, a sea urchin is not something you’d think to put your mouth near. This otherworldly creature (spiny marine invertebrate) is a slimy green ball covered in black spikes, that can be quite toxic to humans. But inside are five strips of orange meat which can be eaten raw or tossed in a soup, pasta dish, or paella. Like oysters, sea urchin is an acquired taste, best described as having the texture of tongue and the flavor of the sea. Go for it!
For some people, eating a banana is a textural issue. They love the flavor. They hate the mush. Might I suggest a trip to the Southern Hemisphere where one can imbibe on a popular Chilean beverage - leche con plátano. Milk with banana, or as we’d say, banana milkshake, is made with milk or cream, a few ice cubes, a bit of sugar, fresh banana, and a good whip in the blender. Filled with fiber, calcium, potassium, and other essential nutrients, leche con plátano is a creamy, delicious, banana-flavored drink, minus the dreaded mush.
Walking the colorful, hilly streets of Valparaíso is an outing all on its own, given the architecture, street art, markets, and musicians. Take it up a notch with a trip to La Sebastiana, former home of Chile’s Nobel Prize winner, writer, and poet Pablo Neruda. The five-story house/museum embodies the eclectic bohemian vibe of the city and is packed with art, furniture, glass collections, and more. It also offers stunning views of the city and sea, and during Neruda’s time, was one of the best places to experience the city’s New Year’s fireworks show.