I had lunch at the best little market again today. It was tucked in a small neighborhood off of a busy street in Santiago. It is the kind of market you would never know to visit unless someone told you about it. Luckily, people at work have really good suggestions. When I entered the market, there were ladies set up with little stands of prepared homemade foods. They arranged salads, vegetables, potatoes, and an assortment of other foods on plates and put plastic wrap over them and sold them for less than two dollars. Wow, this is fast food at it's best!
I continued through the market and went first to get my lunch at Tinita Empanadas. Empanadas are pastries usually filled with cheese and some sort of vegetable or meat. Many people eat empanadas in Chile. They reminded me of calzones without the pizza sauce. Mine was filled with melted white cheese and grilled mushrooms. It was a perfect lunch.
I also was really proud of myself because I spoke Spanish to order and the woman actually understood me! It is a confidence builder at least. I've been sitting through meeting after meeting in Spanish and it has been very hard. Though today in the meetings I did feel like I generally understood what was going on, but I still was missing all of the specifics. Still, the fact that I could tell the subject and the main issues of the conversation made me feel good and like clapping my hands!
After eating lunch, I stopped at the market store. I was searching for little unique gifts to bring home from Chile. I found a popular spice mix used here in cooking called merken. I also bought a small bag of toasted avellano nuts. I haven't tried them yet, but I hear they are similar to hazelnuts but much smaller. If you had kids you could trick them into thinking they were butterscotch chips, they look just about the same. Oh, and on the walk home from work, I found an araucaria araucana nut on the ground. I bet you are wondering, what the heck is that? Most of us in Washington have seen Monkey Puzzle Trees. Well, they are native to Chile! The nuts are suppose to be really tasty, better than an almond or cashew. I am not going to eat this one from the ground, obviously, but I am going to keep an eye out for them sold at markets because I think they would be fun to try.