Dame la palta, po!

(To my Chilean friends: I am aware that the “po” is almost never written. It is simply added to the end of words as a “p.” This is so that non-Chilean speaking readers understand.)

Hola, amigos!

We are now just about at the end of September, and with it, the end of las fiestas patrias de Chile. I listened to a lot of cumbia and cueca. As I indicated in my last blog post, the Chile study abroad alums of my university gathered for a little carrete. Muy piola (meaning nice, cozy, laidback).

A truly beautiful thing. Prepping palta for the party.

A truly beautiful thing. Prepping palta for the party.

Palta, salt, and a little bit of lemon juice. This disappeared at the carrete.

Palta, salt, and a little bit of lemon juice. This disappeared at the carrete.

My friend C. is actually half Chilean, and she knows how to make pebre just by taste. It was fantastic.

My friend C. is actually half Chilean, and she knows how to make pebre just by taste. It was fantastic.

Someone brought pisco, and we had enough lemons and powdered sugar to make pisco sours. Not too strong, not too sweet- juuuust right.

Someone brought pisco, and we had enough lemons and powdered sugar to make pisco sours. Not too strong, not too sweet- juuuust right.

AND we had completos. This is mine. Without mayonesa. Because I'm mañosa (picky) like that.

AND we had completos. This is mine. Without mayonesa. Because I’m mañosa (picky) like that.

We also had alfajores, those delicious little manjar-filled bites of heaven, and imitation terremotos. Terremotos are a very Chilean drink, consisting of pipeño, which is fermented white wine, and pineapple ice cream. They are typically extremely strong, hence the name “earthquake.” Ours had none of the original ingredients and were not nearly as strong, but we definitely get an A for effort. The only thing that was missing was the chicha.

I love these gatherings for a number of reasons, the main one being that people who have not had this experience are only willing to listen for so long until they check out or get bored. If you haven’t been abroad, or if you haven’t been to this country, you eventually don’t feel like hearing about it anymore. Which is perfectly fine! But we never get tired of talking about it. I especially don’t (hence this blog, obviously). So when we have the opportunity to get together and revel in our experiences with people who also don’t get sick of talking about it, we have to take advantage of it.

Chile has infiltrated my life in a number of little ways that I’m just realizing now, a whole year later after my first long-term stay. I drink a lot of agua de hierbas (herbal teas) after meals and before bed. I’ve mostly switched from coffee to tea in the mornings. I cannot drink it without sugar, but I never add milk. I am far more tolerant of smoking than I ever was. I talk constantly about the weather. I have a tendency to run about five minutes behind schedule (and I am making a concerted effort to fix that, because my world just does not work that way). I am way less tolerant of cold than I was before. That’s a problem, considering that I spend winter in the Midwest. It was 68 the other day. 68 guys, not a cloud in the sky, with a nice breeze. I wore jeans, a cardigan, and a light scarf. There were other people walking around in shorts and t-shirts. And I looked at them and thought that they must be freezing.

This is apparently what happens when you are deprived of central heating for months. Warm is no longer warm enough. But I know how to dress for when it’s 45 in the morning and 75 at midday, which coincidentally was the weather here all last week!

Actually though, this fall has been fabulous so far. Lots of sun, nice warm temps but not hot enough to make you sweat. Nice and cool at night. The leaves haven’t turned quite yet, but we’ve had a few chilly mornings where I really wanted something cinnamon-y to eat. Just wait until I get back into the kitchen over fall break, guys. It’s going to be an explosion of apples and pumpkin and cinnamon and nutmeg and probably oats and streusel of some sort. Gah. Can’t wait! I missed this entire season last year, and I intend to make the most of it before we once again plunge into winter.

I have two stories about palta (avocado, just in case you forgot) to share with you:

First, I sat down near one of the dining hall chefs at lunch the other day. I was just eating my lunch, reading stuff on my phone, and suddenly she asks if I’d like half of an avocado. She was going to split it with another chef, but she decided she didn’t want her half anymore. I pretty much jumped out of my seat and hugged her. It was wonderful. I’m telling you, angels exist!

Never gets old.

Never gets old.

And then, my friend had an avocado that was going bad that, despite her fervent love of the magical green fruit, she wasn’t going to be able to eat. So we brought it along to the dining hall with us, and I prepped it with toast, as always. That’s more palta than I had in the entire five months between my Chile stays. I was a happy cabra (in Chilean, another word for girl) after those meals.

Those are my palta stories. Only people who crave palta like I do and had it almost every day for the better part of a year (i.e., other Chile study abroad students) will understand what joyous occasions these meals were, and how much my belief in the goodwill of human beings has been strengthened.

Besos,

Gaby

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