|Scenes from a market in Santiago: clockwise from top left, my daughter enjoying some delicious watermelon, tomatoes and strawberries, shell beans and mature corn, massive heads of broccoli|
|Fresh eggs, raspberries, cherries and gooseberries at the River Market in Valdivia|
|An amazing seafood platter at Richard, El Rey del Mariscal in the Mercado Central. On the left is the traditional Chilean salad, tomatoes and onions.|
There are always surprises eating in a foreign country, and the completo is one of them. In Santiago, this is the fast food of choice. You can get them loaded up with all sorts of stuff (avocado, tomatoes, cheese, and more) and they are very cheap. There is a block of completo stands along one side of the Plaza de Armas, the big public square in downtown Santiago. Definitely not fancy food but if you want to eat like the man on the street in Santiago, this is the place to go.
Another surprise is Chile's love of the avocado, which Chilenos call palta. They like to serve it at breakfast, mashed up with a little salt and pepper. They also serve them stuffed with chicken, tuna, or seafood salad, called Palta Reina. The quality of the avocados is very high. If you like avocado, be sure to try them. I adore avocado and I was never disappointed.
One interesting fruit we never saw but tasted in desserts was lucuma. The flesh is a bit like avocado but you never see it fresh. It's sold as a puree (so we were told), and used in cake fillings and desserts. It's a little sweet, similar to a chestnut. It is very popular in Chile, though not grown there. They import it from Peru. We were served a number of cakes with lucuma filling. If you see a dessert containing it, give it a try. You're not likely to see it too many other places!
Next up, more detail on the varied and unusual (to Americans) seafood of Chile.