Chile is incredibly long (4,270km) and absurdly narrow (177km) as a country. Despite these thousands of miles of coast line, the fruits of the Pacific were not what stood out most on my journey. It seems as though they look toward the rest of the continent and across the Pacific for inspiration. That's not to say that there isn't amazing food to be had, and I found a few unique gems that were totally new to me.
Mote con Huesillo
I came across this interesting beverage in Santiago. The closest thing I can compare it to are the sugary flavoured iced teas I've had from cans. It's made by boiling dried peaches with cinnamon and sugar. The liquid is then chilled and poured into a cup over cooked wheat. You're given a spoon to eat the wheat when you've had the drink. It's strange and a little too sweet for my liking but on a hot summer day it'll cool you down and put a spring in your step.
Pastel de Choclo
This dish reminded me of home in that it's a little like shepherd's pie. It begins in the same way, with a layer of minced beef fried with onions and spices. After that it goes a little astray. They add boiled eggs, olives, raisins and sometimes even chicken. The whole thing is topped with a layer of sweetcorn and baked in the oven. I really like it despite the filling being a little reminiscent of a slop bucket.
Llamas, and other similar camelids, are extremely important across the Andes. When camelids were domesticated it allowed society to become established. People depended upon them for clothing, milk, meat and transport. In northern Chile I had the opportunity to try it cooked on a bbq and marinated with chimichurri. It's very tasty, juicy and tender like beef or lamb.
Dishes like Chorrillana are everywhere in South America (Lomo a la pobre is another very common version in Chile). They're big, unhealthy, filthy and delicious. Chorrillana begins with a layer of chips, this is topped with a layer of fried slices of beef and the whole thing is topped with fried eggs. Simple yet effective.
The baked empanadas of Argentina are one thing, but the deep-fried ones I had in Chile were quite another. Like their Argentinian counterparts, they can be found with hundreds of combinations of fillings but the pastry and the filling takes on a whole new flavour and texture when it's dropped in a vat of smoking hot oil. Cheese, tomato and basil was a personal favourite.
In every culture the world over you'll find some sort of stew or hot pot (the inspiration behind Pota). These dishes often hail from the poorest echelons of society, concocted from the cheapest of ingredients. Chile is no exception and their guisos are well worth trying.
In general, I didn't come across as much variety in the cuisine in Chile as I have seen in other countries on the continent but what I tasted I liked.