Chile food & drink: fruit & vegetables

When we first arrived in Chile, I got a bit confused by some of the fruit and vegetables. Alligator skin cucumbers, alien like citrus fruits and other stuff I didn’t recongnise, but fancied giving a try just for the hell of it.

While supermarket groceries suck big time, the food you’ll find in the market and through online vegetable delivery services is generally really, really good.

Strawberries so sweet my kid calls them ‘sweeties’, avocados as creamy as butter and many more exotic fruit and vegetables worth putting on your shopping list…

strawberries Chile

Rocoto (a type of chili in Chile)

This is a type of chili originally from Peru which is used a lot in Chilean homes too.

It’s not that hot compared to many Mexican chili peppers (although admittedly I’m a fan of very spicy food) and makes a great zingy mayo sauce to go with almost any dish.

We slather it on burgers, use it as an appetizer with a little bread and generally just love the stuff. Click here for a good recipe. 

rocoto chile

Curcuma (fresh turmeric)

Fresh turmeric isn’t so easy to come by in the UK. Here in Chile however, I can order it through my regular vegetable delivery service.

Chile has banned turmeric supplements (apparently). In any case, fresh tastes so good, why bother with a supplement?

Since moving to Santiago, I use a few slices in my hot water, lemon and ginger concoction every morning.

curcuma turmeric chile

Acelga (chard)

Yes, we get chard in the UK too, but here in Chile it tastes so damn good when it’s fresh.

I use a blender to chop it up super fine and add it into sauces and savoury muffins for my kids. As for me, I love it in stir fries and sauteed as a side dish.

chard acelga

Chirimoya

OK, chirimoyas are damn ugly and I don’t see what all the fuss is about in terms of the fruit. However blended as juices or in ice lollies, well, hello there!

My kids love chirimoya juice and whenever we eat out in restaurants, I always order it.

The white juice / smoothie tastes something like a cross between melon and pear. Delicious.

chirimoya fruit

chirimoya juice

Tuna 

I know what you’re thinking. Tuna for dessert? Tuna in fruit salads? Yuck! Of course, this is not ‘atun’ as they say in Spanish.

‘Tuna’ in Chile is a sweet fruit which grows on cacti and has spikes right through the flesh. Because of these spikes, you need to know how to cut it. Here’s a video explaining more.

I’ll be honest, these fruits are good, but man, it’s a lot of hard work with all those damn spikes, so I hardly ever buy them.

tuna fruit

Aloe vera

Again, I’ll be honest. While I see aloe vera a lot in the bigger markets, and while I do like (to buy) the juice, I’ve never got around to preparing it myself.

If you’re moving to Chile and you can be bothered, you’re in luck as it’s quite easy to come by. Apparently parts of the flesh are toxic, so here’s a how to guide. 

aloe vera chile

Papaya

Yes, you know what a papaya looks like. Just adding papaya in here as it tastes so, so good here in Chile in the summer.

I like mine filled with muesli and coconut yogurt. So, so good!

papaya

Granada (pomegranate)

I know what you’re thinking. Yes, yes, you’re cultured enough to know what a pomegranate looks like too.

Except I’ve been told (on repeated occasions) that one variety (left) is much sweeter and better as a fruit, while another (right) is better in salads.

Either way, both taste really awesome.

pomegranate granada

Palta (avocado)

My Spanish husband used to call it aguacate, but he’s been corrected by our Chilean educated kids to use ‘palta’.

The most common variety is the hass type. There’s another type with smoother, darker purple skin, but it’s not as creamy I find and it’s damn hard to peel.

Palta was the first Spanish word I learnt in Chile. I’m not great at picking up vocab, but this word isn’t hard to learn. Palta, or avocado, are everywhere. One guy even bought a mobile phone with them.

palta avocado

Pepino dulce (‘sweet cucumber’)

Don’t be put off by the bland fodder in most supermarkets, a perfectly ripe pepino dulce from the market is in another league.

A ripe pepino dulce should not be green, but yellow all over, with streaks of purple. Peel away the thin skin with a knife, discard the seeds and voila.

After a few of these fruits you might wonder why the rest of the world hasn’t caught on. A cross between a super sweet melon and a juicy cucumber, these are divine.

pepino dulce

pepino dulce fruit

Pinones (pine nuts)

Call me a city girl, but before moving to Chile I never knew that pine nuts looked this with their skins on.

You need to boil them for about an hour or roast them in the oven to get the skins off.

I’m a sucker for pine nuts in my salads, but again, what a lot of hard work. Life is too short to peel a pine nut, surely?!

pinones (pine nuts)

pine nuts prepared

Porotos granados (Chilean broad beans)

Don’t get too excited by their vibrant pink casing. These guys are basically Latino broad beans.

Sure, they taste good and they freeze well too (shell them first, obviously).

These beans form the staple of a classic Chilean dish. Named after them, porotos granados is a warming bean stew generally with pumpkin, corn and spices. Here’s a recipe.

porotos granados

Oh and a final word, the watermelons are cheap and taste so good in summer!

 

Any more to add to the list? Leave me a comment below and I’ll add them to my shopping list next time.

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