Group Post: How to Alienate a Chilean

Margaret at Cachando Chile proposed a group blog on things that alienate Chileans. I’m a little late jumping on the bandwagon because I had other things to blog about, but here goes my interpretation. Check out Margaret’s post (especially the comments) and these posts for some other great ideas. I also wrote two posts on Chilean courtesy which are here and here which address many of the same issues.

Don’t call me gringa
La Gringuita Diaries
A Gringa Living in Santiago
Transcultural Vogueing

As Margaret mentioned, Chileans LOVE their sandwiches. And the concept of the sandwich is very different here in Chile than in the US. Go to places like La Fuenta Alemana, Dominó or Dónde el Guatón and you’ll get something that looks like this:

This is a Churrasco Italiano, which is thinly sliced steak, with mayonnaise, mashed avocado and tomato slices on pan frica, which I don’t know how to translate, but it’s like a high quality hamburger bun. There are other variations, on this sandwich. You can substitute the meat for pork or thicker steak or even chicken. You can substitute the condiments for sauerkraut, salsa americana, green beans, cheese, onions and eggs. Don’t ask me why it’s called salsa americana. I’ve never tried it, but it looks like this and is maybe kind of like relish? Anyway, these sandwiches all have special names depending on what condiments are used. My favorite name is the Chemilico, which has fried onions and an egg.

Salsa Americana…looks…delicious?


Anyway, soon after I arrived in Chile for the first time, I went to a friend of a friend’s house because it was her birthday. There were four of us sitting around, chatting: three Chileans and me. For some reason they started talking about sandwiches. At this point in my acquisition of Chilean Spanish, I was definitely in the “listening” stage. I didn’t talk much. However, my friend wanted to involve me in the conversation, so he asked what my favorite sandwich was. So I started describing it: good whole wheat bread…WAIT! My friend yelled out. WHOLE WHEAT BREAD? How BORING!! Um…oops?? I thought, but he encouraged me to keep describing. Okay, good whole wheat bread, smoked turkey, lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts, cheddar cheese and honey mustard.

The Chileans stared at me. And do you eat that hot or cold? They asked. Cold, I replied. That’s so boring!! They all proclaimed then started describing various versions of the sandwich shown above. At that point, I’d never tried anything of the sort and it sounded kind of gross to me, but they all promised me they’d take me to Fuente Alemana some day to see what a real sandwich was like. I should point out that this conversation was all in buena onda, as in, we were all laughing as I was unsuccessfully trying to laude the merits of a US-style sandwich.

I have to admit that a good Churrasco Italiano is now one of my favorite types of sandwiches. Yes, it packs a punch in terms of calories, but oh man is it delicious. Apparently, I really didn’t know what I was missing! Now when Chileans ask what my favorite sandwich is, I don’t miss a beat. Churrasco Italiano, of course!


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