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Gourmet Cooking Activity Guide

Chile has a rich culinary heritage, with diverse dishes coming from all the different regions and islands. Cascada's Chilean Culinary Experience gives visitors the chance to sample local foods and cook with a professional Chilean chef.

In Chile's north, Atacama and Aymara culture have a lot of influence on dishes as well as the coast's fishing culture which ensures seafood on all menus. In more fertile valleys in the north, like Azapa Valley, close to Arica, tropical fruits are grown, as are olives which are used to produce oil.
Cities near Copiapó, La Serena y Ovalle are internationally known for their production of national liquor pisco, a grape brandy. Fruits like Papaya and vegetables like asparagus, tomatoes and artichokes are grown in the valleys close to these cities, and the dessert grapes grown in this region are exported to many countries in the northern hemisphere and South America.
In the central zone of Chile (and throughout the country) all of the typical national dishes are enjoyed:
  • Pastel de Choclo: Sweetcorn casserole with a meat stuffing
  • Humitas: These are prepared with fresh sweetcorn, onion, basil, and butter or lard. They are wrapped in corn husks and baked or boiled
  • Empanadas: They can have a wide range of fillings, but there are two basic types - one is baked and usually filled with "pino" (beef, onion, olive and egg), and the other is fried and usually filled with cheese
  • Cazuela: A stew of meat, potato, pumpkin and sweetcorn
  • Curanto: Traditional food of Chiloé. Prepared in a hole underground, about 1.5 mts deep, and heated in a bonfire until red. Includes sea food, beef, chorizo, potato and beans
  • Asado: A Chilean barbecue. Beef, pork or chicken usually
  • Fish: Reineta (pomfret), Congrio (eel), Corvina (sea bass) are most common
  • Locos: A rare type of mollusks
  • Jaiva (crab)
  • Centolla: King crab with tender meat of reddish colour  
Chile's south is strongly influenced by Mapuche and Chiloé cooking and characterized for the use of potatoes and seafood. Longaniza sausages from Chillán are famous, as is the exquisite fish and seafood from cities like Concepción, and Valdivia and Puerto Montt in the Lake District. Polynesian seafood is very popular on Archipelago Juan Fernandez. 
Valdivia, Osorno, Puerto Varas and Puerto Montt also offer a variety of sandwiches and pork dishes with significant European influences, mostly brought over by German immigrants. Chilloé's must-try dish is curanto, a mix of seafood, meat and potatoes, cooked in a pot or in a hole in the ground that is covered with hot rocks. It's accompanied by milcao and chapaleles (both kinds of potato bread).
In recent years Chile has been developing more sophisticated products like Marmalade made from wine, and dishes with guanaco, boar and ostrich meat. Fusion cuisine is becoming popular in Santiago due to the mix of immigrants and a variety of restaurants serving global cuisine are appearing throughout Chile. Japanese and Peruvian cuisine are particularly popular. 
Of course, no meal in Chile is complete without an aperitif and glass of Chilean wine. Pisco Sour is the national aperitif and is made from Pisco, lemon, sugar and egg white. Chile is famous for its many excellent wines including Undurraga, Cousiño Macul, and Concha y Toro, all of which are exported worldwide. Central Chile is home to the best wine valleys in the country such as Aconcagua, Casablanca, San Antonio-Leyda, Maipo, Cachapoal, Curicó and Maule.