Chile is a country that takes advantage of its resources. Pressed against its western coast, the Pacific Ocean offers a treasure-trove of delicacies waiting to be tamed, harvested and enjoyed. Beneath the country's feet, rich fertile soil provides ideal farmland for high quality produce and livestock. As a result, the vast variety of potential ingredients at any given chef's disposal is almost always fresh and likely local. But regardless of the nearly limitless culinary possibilities this presents, Chile has still developed and maintained a clear and distinct food culture all its own.

As one of the most economically stable countries in Latin America, Chile attracts a lot of immigrants, especially ones from surrounding nations. Along with hopes of a better future, Argentinians, Peruvians, Bolivians and others bring snippets of their culture, not the least of which is their food. Similarly, Chile has a long history of immigrants from many European countries like Spain, Croatia, Great Britain, France and more. Each of these communities has left indelible marks on Chilean culture and greatly shaped the food Chileans eat.

If you know a little bit about Chilean food or even Chile in general, you'll probably be surprised to note that there are no seafood dishes among my top three. The reasons for this are twofold: Although I absolutely love seafood and can talk at great length about Chilean seafood in particular, I actually didn't eat that much of it during my most recent visit. Whether by coincidence or by the devious schemes of my family, we never got around to the coastal cities, where all of the best seafood is to be had. The second reason is that I simply wanted to talk about something different; Everyone knows Chile has great seafood, but what about the other stuff? What about the street vendors or the ranchers in the small mountain pueblos? The country has much more to offer than seafood, however exquisite it may be.

History has produced for Chile a unique blend of Latin American and European cooking that is as delicious as it is eclectic. Pictured here are three of my personal favorites. Click on the photos for all the details.

empanadas asado/parrillada completo