Santiago is a lovely town when you have a tour guide, and luckily, I do! Valentino´s cousin Juan Pedro has taken charge of me since my arrival here three days ago, and my intestines are much happier than they were in Peru.
Embarking on our gastronomical adventures yesterday we began the day with ¨cafe con piernas,¨or ¨coffee with legs.¨ These smoke-filled coffee bars in downtown Santiago are staffed by depressed-looking women wearing lots of makeup and shorter-than-short skintight dresses which would not be flattering even on a Hooters waitress. The coffee was expensive and tasted terrible, but it was an interesting slice of downtown Santiago to see. I prefer cheap little neighborhood cafes which serve up cafe con leche, or mugs of steamed milk with a little scoop of Nescafe instant coffee.
After taking the ¨huevos en el cielo¨or little rail pods up to the top of Cerro San Cristobal, we had empanadas de pino, which are little steamed turnovers filled with chopped onions and spiced meat, a quarter of a hard-boiled egg, and a large black olive with a pit. The olives here are much larger and sharper-tasting than any I´ve had stateside, and then empanadas were lovely. Accompanying them was a refreshing drink of ¨Mote con huesillo,¨ which is a strange-looking and sweet concoction in which a large, whole, dried peach is boiled in water with wheat grains. The resulting juice is ladled into a glass with the whole peach and some wheat grains, served with a spoon.
Avocados are prevalent everywhere you look in Chile, and Santiaguenos are shocked when I tell them the price (around $3) for a Haas avocado in California. Here, you get 3 kilos of avocados for about 15 cents.