The one thing I was truly prepared for, during this adventure, was my discovery and experience of local food and beverages. One would even say I was looking forward to it, especially when I decided to start the ball rolling by ordering and eating a Cambodian baked tarantula for my last day at work :

Mota & I finishing off the Cambodian baked tarantula (Camera operation by Greg Z.)

Having arrived in Chile, the notion that locals eat certain foods has come into question. The first such item is called a terremoto. The name alone invokes something terrifying and earth shattering, as it translates from Spanish to earthquake. Does this remind you of an earthquake ??

Double earthquakes?? (Photo by Jack Zalium)

It is a combination of pipeño (a type of sweet fermented wine more akin to moonshine), a scoop of pineapple ice cream & a splash of red wine served in a plastic cup. It is called earthquake because of how it makes you feel; shaky when you attempt to stand up. We tried this drink on an early Thursday afternoon and thankfully we never sat down. “Happy hour” would definitely be the description of the attitude of most of the patrons of the bar, yet from all our people-watching, it would appear only tourists, local inebriates and pre 20-year olds were the only ones actually buying and drinking it.

It was better than expected and my experience with ţuică probably gives me a bit of an advantage. It is definitely strong and more than two at once, experienced drinker or not, could likely lead to some sort of distress. It was the second item that I had while in Chile, that made me really question whether or not the locals actually ate or drank any of these creations.

The second item of intrigue is called a “mote con huesillo” :

Chileans drink this?? (Photo by Jack Zalium)

It was initially described by one of our hosts (Megan) as a smoothie-like drink equivalent to dumping a can of peaches onto barley in a plastic cup. At one point she even described it as “peach oatmeal”.  I have to note that I am not a fan of peaches and canned peaches seem even less appetizing, so I was not looking forward to this. It would be our reward for walking to and climbing Cerro San Cristobal. Sure enough, when we reached the top all the vendors there were ready with this concoction, sadly lacking any alcohol.

It is not a bad drink. The syrup & cinnamon juice mixes well with the barley. The problem lays with the peaches. This drink can be made with dried peaches, but in our case, it had two whole peaches complete with pits. The juice and wheat were quite complementary and very enjoyable (if you like really sweet things). I did notice that Molly was not diving into the peach as I had. She commented that it was not enjoyable, as it was a bit fleshy. In typical Nellu-form, I tried to encourage her by saying that it wasn’t fleshy at all and going into a diatribe about how it wasn’t anything like human flesh. You can just imagine the results…..

It was during this endeavor that I kept thinking to myself that this drink was seemingly created in a surplus of wheat and government issued canned peaches and an attempt was made to make money on it (and get some laughs) by convincing the tourists that the locals “love” to drink this. So far my theory has not paid off, as every Chilean I have asked has sworn that they and others drink it, especially in the summer. We shall see….