1. Eating a beast of a hot dog from Sibaritico
I’m not talking about those petty hot dogs you get in a Copec gas station, which are gone after three bites. No, I am talking about those beasts from Sibaritico or any Fuente Alemana, overflowing with mayonnaise and avocado, big enough to tear up your mouth at any single bite. Rookies watch out, bring a pile of napkins and even a spare t-shirt.
2. Speaking Chilean Spanish
Yes, technically we speak Spanish. But once you leave the country, you inevitably switch to neutral Spanish mode. Otherwise you’ll spend way too much time and energy explaining what means “cuatico,” “fome,” or “polola,” among others. ¿Cachai, weon?
3. Our whole ritual of getting drunk
“¿Tenís con quien tomar?” “You have someone to drink with?” I ask.
“No, compremos juntos.” “No, let’s buy together,” a friend answers.
Sealed. This whole dialogue is a sacred bond that unifies two individuals to buy, share and get fucked up together on a bottle of pisco. Sometimes it gets complicated when a third wheel tries to get involved. For that lonely soul, there’s two paths: convince the “couple” to buy an extra bottle and share 2 pa’ 3 (2 for 3) or irse perso (finish the bottle by himself). Gotta love Chilean drinking.
4. Living it up at a Chilean asado
Mix an Argentinean barbeque and an Irish bender, and you’ll get a Chilean asado, a feast where you enjoy choripanes with pebre, costillares, lomo vetado or abastero meat cuts sided with a good Chilean salad and potatoes, all accompanied by chicha and Carmanere and finished off with piscolas.
5. Piscola-fueled previas
Most of the Chileans abroad miss drinking piscola, but what we really yearn for is a previa with los cabros at someone’s house, talking nonsense while we all shared a Capel, Alto del Carmen or Mistral piscola under the false promise of behaving, and leaving early to keep the bender going someplace else.
6. Going to the stadium
Football stadiums can be found in almost every major city you go to, but what’s the fun of football when there’s no real emotion involved? None, I’ve chosen my colors long ago, and there’s nothing that beats going to el estadio to root, celebrate and curse. It’s therapeutic.
7. The Cordillera
Whether for orientation or recalling that there’s always something bigger than myself, I need the Cordillera. For me, nothing has ever been able to beat the glorious view you get in Santiago when it snows on those imposing white Andean mountains.
8. Pan con palta
Still surprises me that something as simple and yummy as bread with avocado is not eaten with much frequency overseas. It’s probably just because the marraqueta is sweeter back home.
9. Living an “18”
Few dates bring more nostalgia to a Chilean spirit than September 18th abroad. The anniversary of our “First Junta” is a three-day celebration, hosted in temporary outdoor set ups located wherever — cities, countryside and beaches — where you can find anticuchos, chicha, terremotos, and empanadas. Try comparing it to Mardi Gras, King’s Day, St Patrick’s, or any other festival: the 18th still stands tall.
10. Cheap — good — wine
“Wine — how fancy people get shit-faced.” This quote doesn’t apply in Chile. So accessible is the wine that within our teenage years we got drunk on jote, a mix of red wine and Coca Cola. There’s no better companion for a proper meat loin than a bottle of Carmenere from Terra Andina.
11. Killing a hangover with a mariscal from the mercado
King Crabs, clams, mussels, octopus, salmon, and “locos” form part of a nourished fauna you can find along the Chilean coastline. Undermined overseas, Chilean cuisine has plenty to offer on seafood. Pick up fresh oysters at the “caleta” (small cove)? Cities as Con Con are the perfect weekend getaways for getting “Machas ala parmesana?” Salivating? Me too.
12. Pouring a hefty dose of lemon on salads
Every Chilean knows you can’t overdo lemon juice and a pinch of olive oil.
13. Our endless variety of empanadas
Indeed most of the Hispanic countries have empanadas, but don’t even try to compare theirs with Chile. From oven or fried, with any size possible, there’s plenty of variety to choose from: queso, napolitana, camarón queso, ostión queso, jaiba queso, macha queso, capresa, and, the classic of all Chilean classics, la empanada de pino.