Most North Americans think of Chile as a tropical South American country. In reality, Chile stretches from north to south 4500 kilometres and approximately 120 kms. from west to east, and enjoys a range of climates from hot, to Mediterranean, to cool, and cold in teh very south close to the Antarctic.
Ever since Canada and Chile signed a Free Trade Agreement in 1997, exports from Chile quadrupled mostly in wine and food. Capital flowed from Canada to Chile for mining.
Chiles agricultural sector made spectacular progress in standardization and packaging. Today you can buy Chilean fruits throughout the year, thanks to improved transportation and distribution.
This country of 16 million people is the biggest exporter of table grapes, plums, de-hydrated bell peppers, and apples; second most important world exporter of kiwis, salmon, third of raspberries, and fifth of wine.
The wine industry is an important foreign exchange earner of the economy.
Recently, the Chilean trade commissioner in Toronto organized a food festival showcasing modern recipes conceived by chef Pilar Rodriguez, designer by profession, but an admirable and imaginative cook by choice.
The idea was to present Toronto diners a modern menu matched with Chilean wines. The dinner started with an impeccable and well-balanced
Sparkling wine by Torres-Chile.
Ceviche of bass was imaginatively presented and matched with an excellent Sauvingon Blanc from Errazuriz.
This promising appetizer was followed with a
Corn and seafood crème served with Carmenere by Casa del Bosque.
Unfortunately, the dish was too sweet and the wine could not complement it, although it tasted fine on its own.
The main course(s) consisted of tenderloin of beef with Cabernet Sauvignon by Errzuriz was a fine match, as was the roast rack of lamb.
The dessert plate of
Parfait and fresh fruits with a Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc by Concha y Toro represented a memorable finish.
The meal was served competently by the staff of Red’s, a successful and consistently good restaurant.
Modern Chilean food differs vastly from what people ate only two decades ago. Today, the inhabitants of Santiago, the capital, are as worldly as New Yorker’s or Torontonians, and have the means to splurge on foods that they did not know existed then.
Next time you shop for groceries, try Chilean Gala apples, or kiwis, or grapes, or frozen quartered strawberries and see how tasty they are
Chilean food glossary of terms
Carica – Chilean papaya
Ceviche Raw – or shellfish, usually marinated in lime juice, chilli, onions and salt
Corvina – Shortfin Pacific weakfish
Fleur du sel Pure – sea salt harvested close to Colchagua Valley south of Santiago
Hass sauce – A sauce made with Hass avocados
Humitas – a traditional Chilean dish made of corn paste and basil
Lucuma – a delicate orange that grows in the valleys of Chile
Merquen – a spice grown by Mapuche Indians in southern Chile.
Pebre – Chilean salsa
Pisco sour – a cocktail like whiskey sour except that the spirit is pisco the traditional liquor of Chile
Queso fresco maduro – a creamy Brie-like cheese
Quinoa – a grain indigenous to the Andean region
Reineta – Pacific pomfret
Sopapilla – deep-fried pastry with brown sugar syrup
Tres leches – very light pan cake made with three milks – whole, condensed and evaporated)
Ulmo honey – honey from Ulmo tree forests in southern Chile
Zapallo – in other parts of South America it is called zucchini