Friday, February 1, 2013

To Separate Latin America from its Coffee...

To my surprise, instant coffee is the standard in Chile.  In most households, mid-grade restaurants, and even cafes, they serve Nescafé.  This is so opposite of my culinary experiences in the rest of Latin America, since going to Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Peru, is almost synonymous with REALLY GOOD COFFEE.

Luckily, my host mom "just doesn't like" instant coffee, so I am one of the few people on my program that gets coffee made from freshly ground beans at home.  She calls the coffee grinder el un, dos, tres!, or the "one, two, three!," I guess because it grinds it up really quickly.

Otherwise, the food has been fresh and healthy.  Choclo, or corn, is an integral part of most dishes here during the summer months.  Pastel de choclo is a casserole dish made with coarsely ground corn.  Underneath the layer of corn there is meat, chicken, hard boiled egg, sauteed onions, and perhaps an olive.  I've also had humitas, which are plain corn tamales that you can add sugar or salsas to.

With the fresh summer veggies, my host mom made porotos granados.  Porotos is the Chilean word for frijoles, or beans.  She used white beans and cooked them in a light summer soup with carrots, corn, green beans, and peppers.

Porotos granados with Chilean salads

My host mom cooks a lot, and her grandson Sahid helps her.  He is a very cute 8 year old, and really into leaning how to cook and helping with everything.  One morning I woke up to them baking muffins together.   It reminded me of when I cooked and baked at that age with my grandma in Michigan.

 Sahid with his apron, María Elena in the background

The final product: orange muffins

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