The Central Coast Feature
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Chilean Coastal Cuisine
"In the turbulent sea of Chile lives the golden conger eel," wrote Chilean poet Pablo Neruda in a simple verse that leaves the real poetry for the dinner table. To many, dining is the principal pleasure of a trip to the Central Coast. Along with that succulent conger eel, congrio, menus here typically have corvina (sea bass), a whitefish called reineta, and the mild lenguado (sole). The appetizer selection, which is invariably extensive, usually includes ostiones (scallops), machas (razor clams), camarones (shrimp), and jaiba (crab). Because lobster is extremely rare in Chilean waters, it's more expensive here than just about anywhere in the world.
Fish and meat dishes are often served alone, which means that if you want french fries, mashed potatoes, a salad, or palta (avocado), you have to order it as an agregado (side dish). Bread, a bowl of lemons, and a sauce called pebre (a mix of tomato, onion, coriander, parsley, and often chili) are always brought to the table. Valparaíso is known for a hearty, cheap meal called chorillana—a mountain of minced steak, onions, cheese, and eggs on a bed of french fries.
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