Chorrillana is so good. French fries and assorted meats and sausages all marinated in a red wine reserve, topped with a sunny side up egg; chorrillana is the most deliciously typical Chilean cuisine. It tastes better than the description sounds, and smells incredible.
The first time I tried chorrillana was at La Flor de Chile the night that I arrived in Chile. That evening was a very interesting experience for several reasons. My first host mom, (I changed host families after a week – see my blog post New Home and Twenty One for the reasons) Paty, took me to eat with six of her friends. I was exhausted from the flight and thrown right into the middle of a strange culture and a strange language and strange food. Now, I know textbook Spanish, but nothing prepared me for the awfulness of Chilean Spanish! It’s so fast and ridden with Chilenismos and idioms and slang that it’s hardly recognizable as Spanish. I thought I had forgotten everything I ever learned because in ten minutes of conversation I could only recognize one or two words. But as time went on I realized that they weren’t speaking Spanish, but the Chilean dialect.
Thankfully one of Paty’s friends spoke broken English and could translate the conversation and describe the items on the menu for me. With Paty’s friend’s help I ordered something safe like beef and french fries, but someone else at the table ordered Chorrillana La Flor de Chile Grande con Mechada. When the waiter brought it to the table I was amazed at the size of the dish because it was large enough for three or four men to eat their fill. I’m pretty sure my jaw dropped in disbelief. Everyone laughed at my expression and urged me to taste it. I was a little skeptical because it doesn’t look quite as appetizing as it actually is but I tried it anyway. Side note to the traveler: Always. Always try the local food. You’ll often find gems. Chorrillana is so good!
Over the course of four months I ate a lot of chorrillana. Just like pizza, the quality varied depending on where I ate it, but it was always chorrillana and always good. During that time of falling in love with Chorrillana I also fell in love with Chile and Chilean culture and Chilean Spanish. I learned the language more or less. I didn’t realize how much I had grown until the last time I ate Chorrillana.
My host family (Rosy and Manuel, their daughter, Paula, and her daughter, Victoria) took me, incidentally, to la Flor de Chile. It was a very emotional evening but also really cool because I got a sense of closure and was able to process how important these people are to me and how much I had learned and grown since the first time eating at that restaurant.
Paula, Victoria, and I ordered Chorrillana to share. I was excruciatingly aware that this very well could be the last time I would ever eat chorrillana and laugh with these wonderful people whom I had grown to love so dearly so I had to force the food past a lump in my throat. Even so, it was delicious, the conversation amusing, and the company warm. It was a much more pleasant experience than the first time I tried chorrillana, and I could finally follow almost all of the conversation. I have very fond memories of that evening. It was a beautiful bookend to my adventures in Chile.
I still have a lot to write about my trip to Peru and the last two weeks in Chile and my transition back home. This is just one story so stay tuned for more! It might be a while because school is insane but good things come to those who wait 😉