A Taste of Chile: Cooking in Santiago

Chilean cuisine is somewhat of a mongrel. Unsurprisingly, it is heavily influenced by neighbouring Peru. Perhaps more surprisingly, Italian and German cuisine also play a part in the Chilean kitchen. Those Italians get everywhere…

The star of the show is seafood, although in cities such as Santiago it is not always easy to find. The Andes prove a challenging barrier for transporting fresh fish to the city. Restaurant-owners and hungry locals head to Mercado Centrale to source their fish and there’s plenty to choose from!

Fresh fish at Mercado Centrale

Mercado Centrale is packed with unassuming Picadas – small restaurants offering cheap set menus made from the best local produce. There are some bigger restaurants at the entrance of the market, luring in unsuspecting tourists, but real foodie joy can only be found in the heart of the market. Adapting to a more ‘rough around the edges’ dining experience takes time, but the tastes and flavours are worth every brave bite.

Mercado Centrale

The best fruit and veg can be found in January and February, when choclo (sweetcorn) and palta (avocado) are at their ripest. La Vega is the biggest fruit and veg market in Santiago; it’s colourful, crazy and charming. Vendors vie for your attention, each one passionately packing sagging bags with items unrecognisable to the western eye. It’s manic, but marvellous.

A busy fruit vendor at La Vega

To get a real taste of Chile, we set off with the Uncorked Cooking Workshop for a day of shopping, cooking and eating. Our menu was ambitious, drawing influences from Inca heritage and German cuisine. Check out our video to see what we cooked. Recipes coming soon…

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