So summer is about three months long, right? Ish? Well, I got about a month and a half of summer while I was in the States, and I’m pretty sure it’s summer here now. It might not be summer in the minds of santiaguinos, since it’s not really summer until around December, but with temps in the high 70’s and sunny all the time, this is summer to me. Hence, with about a month and a half left (again, don’t wanna talk about it, no tears this time), I will get a complete summer in 2012 before I go home to my second winter of the year (third? second and a half? Remember it was winter when I got here!).
Last weekend I took a lovely paseo with my host family to a lake about an hour south of Santiago. Host dad went and sailed in a regatta with his friends while host mom, sister, and I hung out on shore. It was nice to get away from the computer and my connections to everything else for a day. I had an especially good time sister bonding. This was absolutely worth missing my university’s football game for.
And then it was Halloween on Wednesday. They don’t celebrate Halloween here like we do in the States. They actually don’t really understand why we do up Halloween the way we do. A good number of kids dress up in costume and go trick-or-treating, but not in droves like at home. I dressed up as a gypsy and went to a club with some friends for the night. It was a decent time. I also learned that I attract enough attention with my blonde curly hair down around my shoulders. Add makeup and a costume (a modest costume, just so you know), and you can forget about blending in at all.
Now let’s talk about food.
I haven’t done a real food post in a while. Today I’m going to talk about some foods that aren’t necessarily traditionally Chilean, but are a part of my diet here and will probably disappear from my life when I go home.
There’s Chandelle. Chandelle is basically a pudding cup brought to a whole new level. You’ve got your pudding base, in flavors like chocolate, manjar (caramel or dulce de leche, but not the same and so much better), lúcuma (a subtle fruit flavor), and combinations thereof, topped off with Chantilly cream (really, it says “crema Chantilly” on the cups). Chandelle is a common dessert in my house, and I love it.
Then there’s the brazo de reina, or “queen’s arm.” This is basically a Swiss roll cake. In my case, I’ve had it with a white cake base, filled with a mix of manjar and pastry cream. Oh, this is so delicious. I might be requesting it for my birthday cake.
Let’s discuss manjar for a minute. Manjar. Like I said, its relatives are caramel and dulce de leche. But manjar is not the same. I can’t tell you exactly what’s different about it. But trust me. It’s different. We eat manjar rolled up in panqueques (which are like crepes), drizzled over bananas, in other desserts like brazo de reina and alfajores, in so many forms. I’m considering whipping up a batch to put in other desserts for the holidays. Family, you have been warned.
On the salty side of things, there are Ramitas. Ramitas might be my new favorite junk food. They’re little fried straws of I’m not even sure what. Not potatoes. Maybe the stuff Cheetos are made of? But they’re not airy and puffy like that. They’re dense and crunchy. They’ve got some kind of cheese-like powder dusted all over them, and oh my goodness if I can request a care package from my host family ever, I’m asking for a bag of those.
I’m pretty sure I’ve already talked about how much juice Chileans drink, but I would like to point out my favorite of all the juices (blueberry, strawberry, orange, banana) I’ve tried: Watt’s nectar de durazno, or, peach juice. Keep in mind that the juice here is somehow more viscous. It’s probably healthiest to water it down. But man, the peach juice. It tastes like a real peach, in concentrated and slightly sweetened (okay, really ridiculously sweetened) form. As happy as I’ll be to have normal orange juice back in my breakfasts, I’ll be sad to say goodbye to nectars.
That’s my update for now! I’m fairly inundated with work again, as believe it or not, it is the end of the semester. But I have a day hike in my near future, and I’m working on planning my big end-of-the-year trip. So stay tuned!