Day Two in Santiago

2009.Dec.28 Monday · 4 comments

in Food & Recipes, Life

So hmm, what other stuff have I noticed here that’s different. Did I mention it’s clean? No dog poop on the sidewalks. There are street sweepers out early a.m. cleaning the sidewalks and streets, even on a Sunday morning. There are proper color-coded recycling bins every couple of blocks, and real trash cans to drop trash in – not that I’ve seen a single person here toss anything on the street the way they do in BA.

Chinese restaurant

Chinese restaurants are everywhere. And there are also Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Indian, Middle Eastern and other Asian restaurants here – in quantity. Plus, various other Latin American cuisines are well-represented, from Peruvian (tons of them) to Argentine, Uruguayan, Bolivian, Ecuadorian, Mexican, Caribbean, and more. Finding “ethnic” food seems like it is quite easy here – I can’t vouch for the quality as I’m not here to really try anything other than the Chilean spots, but it’d be interesting to find out. The Asian influence is strong, with roughly 5% of the population of Chile being of Asian descent, including the Middle East. The population is noticeably less European than BA’s – though still roughly half the population are of European descent, that still leaves a much larger percentage that are indigenous or mestizo.


Though there were a huge number of amazing older buildings around, many of them are simply shells of their former selves (many did not do well after the major earthquake in the late ’80s). The beautiful ex-Congreso building, however, is pretty stunning.

Plaza de Armas

Many South American cities have a central plaza called the Plaza de Armas, and Santiago is no exception. The original government buildings, as well as post office and the main cathedral are all located around the plaza.

Catherdral Metropolitano

The Cathedral Metropolitano is off to one side, and, not surprisingly for a Sunday, was the only building open on the plaza.

La Vega

My main goal for the morning was to visit the two central markets of Santiago. I started off at La Vega, the main fruit, vegetable and meat market on the north side of the river. It includes a main building…

La Vega

…and also a semi-open area that covers the plaza in front of it, with little stands. Many of these were closed, I don’t know if that’s typical for a Sunday or more because it was Christmas weekend. This seems to be the part of the market for buying dry goods, spices, various grains, pickles, etc.

La Vega

Inside the main building, however, everything was open and going great guns, and it was early morning. Fruits and vegetables from all over the country abound.

La Vega

Meats too. Everything from beef to pork to lamb to a few variety sorts, and every conceivable cut.

La Vega

Running through the center of the building, row after row of small food stands offering up everything from coffee and pastries to soups, stews, sandwiches, and platters of food. And the Chilenos were out in force chowing down – I realize it’s just a cultural difference, but I just wasn’t ready for a huge steaming bowl of shellfish at 9 in the morning.

Sopopilla and coffee

I found a little stand off to the side run by a young Peruvian woman from Chimbote, her name is Cherry, she’s charming as can be, and she served me up a delicious sopapilla (fried pumpkin bread) and cup of instant coffee (the coffee culture here is pretty non-existent, that would be an issue for me… instant coffee, Nescafe in particular, is ubiquitous). Cost for the two together, 400 local pesos, less than a dollar.

Footbridge to the Mercado Central

Then it was back outside, wandering a bit in the outdoor part of the market, and then headed across the footbridge to the Mercado Central….


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

David S December 28, 2009 at 21:39

I really really have to stop reading your blog after I have eaten. Damn you I’m hungry again.

Great pics. Did you by chance get once of that menu from Zully?

dan December 28, 2009 at 21:55

I thought I had one, but it must not have saved or something. It was really quite cool.

KevinSanSal December 29, 2009 at 13:37

Pumpkin bread looked nice… and of course it’s refreshing to see you in a market. Keep walking my friend.

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