Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Warm Welcome

When I got to Santiago, I went to one of the university campuses to meet my host family.  Mine isn't a large family, but a lovely retired woman named María Elena.  She came with her 8 year old grandson, Sahid, who was staying for a few days since it is summer vacation here.  She lives in a 3 bedroom apartment building in the Nuñoa neighborhood, a middle class, clean, very quaint area.  I got a room with a balcony!

My balcony view of the Andes, just before sunset.

My host mom is very sweet and accommodating.  She calls me cariño and mi amor.  She's been hosting students through this and other programs for 11 years, a champion host mom!  Although she's very relaxed and laid back (I have a key, no curfew or rules so far), she insists on making all of my food and serving me - something I've never experienced!  I think it's a cultural thing, and could be a little rude to insist on doing it myself.

This is an humita de choclo - basically a corn tamale (but not sweet like in Central America).  At my new home I've had a lot of baked chicken, baked potatoes, some stew, and cold salads like this one and one with beets.  It's good quality healthy food, but the warning that Chilean food can be bland holds a bit true.  If not, it's all pre-salted and pre-sweetened.  I look forward to cooking for myself later on with all the great produce.

Another Chilean specialty - Mote. This is peach juice with a whole peach in it.  At the bottom is a type of grain. The way I'd describe them is a clash between oats, quinoa, and barley.  They are kind of like chewey, oatey pieces of rice.  A typical summer drink in the hot, hot city.

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