The Complexity of the Chilean Palate

One must wonder where they are when stumbling into a restaurant and gazing into a menu compiled of entirely fried ingredients and strange combinations.
If one does, exactly this, I recommend assuming you're in Chile.

We have been working at a restaurant in Chile for over a month now, and have had to add a few dishes according to the Chilean palate. Which makes sense, we are of course in Chile, what doesn't make sense, to me, is the Chilean palate.

This is Pichanga, recently added to the menu by Jana the Chilean owner. Here is what it entails:

French fries
One steak, cubed and fried
Two fried intestine rolls of spiced god knows what
Two hard boiled eggs
And approximately 9 olives
Accompanied with aji sauce for dipping (which I'll get to later)

The only person I can imagine enjoying this plate is my father (Jim), who is trying to loose weight and shouldn't enjoy this plate. But it sells! Chileans love it. In a country where obese people are as easy to find as a black people, that means hard to find, Chileans love large portioned, fried food, made with processed meat links and washed down with bad beer. Sound familiar?

So how do they do it? Not be a ridiculously fat nation I mean. Well for starters, not many families own a car and if they do there is only one to share. Even in small towns and the country, they rely heavily on public transportation and their feet. Which means everyone is walking and moving the same amount that the average big city dweller does, which is a lot. They are also outside as long as the sun is out. It is uncommon for the average Chilean family to have an internet connection or TV with cable. So by default they are outside. Which means they are usually playing futball! The third reason for non-fatness, Chileans love futball. Babies play futball, grandparents play futball, everybody plays futball. If there is an open field, there is futball. Point being, Chileans stay active, eat lots of fried food and don't get fat. Are they healthy? I don't know, I am not a doctor, but they aren't fat.

Back to the traditional Chilean food. For the most part, in my opinion, it is not very good. Or at least as a vegetarian, most of it, is not very edible. One of the only redeeming factors is aji.

This is aji, a spicy pepper unlike anything I have ever tasted. With every Chilean dish comes aji sauce. People eat this stuff on their bread like jam, its that abundant. Some variations are spicier than others, but overall praise Mary for aji sauce. Sometimes when we go out to eat it is the only thing keeping my tongue happy.


  1. Wow. That is most disgusting looking plate I've ever seen. Yep, dad would totally love it.
    So, how does one make aji sauce from the peppers?

  2. There are so many varieties of Aji sauce. You can use the young ajies (the green and orange ones) and blend them with vinegar, oil or milk for a mild sauce. Or use the red ripe ones or dried dark red ones blended with vodka, wine, lemon or milk. Add copped onions or cilantro, yummy!

  3. i'm gonna have to try making a version of aji with the loads of red chili peppers ive got coming from my mom's garden... do you think the peppers need to be skinned?
    also, this plate looks amazing, the kind of food you go out and eat on a dare or for the novelty of it, just to have tried it once and check that box. i'd like to place an order for delivery please.