>> Chilenazo | Eat the World Los Angeles

Wednesday 6 February 2019


๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฑ CHILE

EDITOR'S NOTE: An updated version of this article (07 December 2023) is available as part of the Historical section of our Substack page. Check that out here:
When Chile is next involved in a big international football match, you should definitely come here to watch it. All the components of Chilean culture, mostly having to do with the extensive culinary options, are here, as well as a wall dedicated to the people and places of the country. It is fun to look through, especially for an outsider that may be unfamiliar with many of the famous people. But footballers like Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal are unmistakable, and a Chilean identity would be inauthentic without them.

Chilenazo has lived in this Canoga Park strip mall since the beginning of the decade, one of the only outposts of comida chilena in all of Los Angeles. The blinds are drawn, the windows are tinted, you can't see in, but open the door and it is all fun inside once your eyes adjust.

"If you've never heard of Chilean food, that's ok because most people haven't."

This is the greeting on the restaurant's website, inviting newcomers to arrive with an open mind and empty stomach. Next to some of its neighbors in South America, the food of Chile definitely gets a lot less limelight. But start with an empanada de pino ($3, above), a bit smaller than a usual one but still full of all the savory and sweet flavors that should be there.

There may be no quicker way into the psyche of Chile than by eating a completo ($10.50, above and below), the hot dog that probably qualifies as their national dish. Like most foods in the country, it is smothered with avocado, as well as tomatoes and homemade mayonnaise. The photos here might not tip you off to the enormity, but it is truly large and served with a side of fries.

Getting it into your mouth requires some maneuvering as most jaws do not have the ability to swing open far enough. Some bites undoubtedly end up with only toppings while others are mostly bread. The good news is that both are delicious, especially the freshly baked bread which made this version one of the best.

During the course of the meal, the freezer case and its contents kept asking for attention. In it were pints of lรบcuma ice cream, made of course from the namesake fruit native to the valleys of the Andes Mountains. After finishing the food, it was just too irresistible so an order was put into an ice cream bowl by the staff.

Expecting the sweetness of fruit, the actual taste comes as such a surprise resembling what almost is an exact match for butterscotch. This version is milky and creamy and wonderful, and disappeared in a few seconds. What a glorious way to end a meal here.


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