It is time, loyal readers, to once again present our decision, advancing one cuisine and eliminating another. This week the case is the United States against Chile — one cuisine, being our own, is very familiar, while the other was hardly a blip in our culinary radar before it was featured.
One of the great comfort foods of Chile, and one that is considered a national dish, is the meat and corn pie pastel de choclo (recipe follows). Pastel means “cake” in Spanish, but has taken on widely divergent forms in the various areas of Spanish influence around the world. Choclo comes from the Quechua language group and refers to the sweet corn used to make the pie’s topping.
Chilean food traditions have developed from a combination of locally available food sources and the native cultures’ use of them, as well as Spanish influence dating from the time of the conquistadors in the sixteenth century. So far, that makes Chilean food origins sound pretty much like the rest of the Americas south of Texas; Chile’s unique geography and relationship with the sea set it apart however.