Monday, June 02, 2008

Pomaire, Chile

Pomaire is a delightful artisan's village just outside of Melipilla. They are known for their pottery and shop after shop sells dark brown pieces of all shapes and sizes. In addition, the town has restaurants and cafes laced in between all of the artisan's shops. This was truly a beautiful day in Chile. The rains had cleared the sky and the Andes were gloriously visible. It felt wonderful to be walking along the streets of the village in the sun.

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Me in the market with the fall squashes.

Pomaire is a tourist stop. But we were there in the off season and were the only tourists most every place we went. As you can see from the above photo, I am such an obvious gringo. The Chilean women were half as tall as me and the men 2/3 my height, it seemed. I never had trouble in crowds seeing where I was going. One of the wonderful things about Chile, unlike Mexico, is that the vendors never ever hassle you. Sometimes, we would be looking in a shop here or in other places like Santiago, and the vendor would be visiting her friends in the nearby booths. We'd have to signal to let them know we were interested in making a purchase.

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Pomaire Restaurant--toasting with "chicha," kind of a grape cider.

The charming restaurant above is actually owned by the family of one of Lucas' students. We did not know that when we arrived in Pomaire but Lucas saw his student and greeted him so we decided to eat there. Notice we are the only people in the place. This happened to us all of the time for lunch and dinner. First of all, it is the off season. Secondly, the Chileans eat their main meal in the afternoon anywhere from 1 to 3 PM. Dinner is often a smaller meal and eaten much later in the evening after 8 PM. Here we were Americans hungry at noon and wanting our dinner about 6:30 or 7. Luckily the places were open so we would be the only diners until we finished when folks would start to trickle in.

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The above dish is a typical Chilean meal. It is a stew called Cazuela and it is delicous. It comes with various meats but I ordered chicken. It had corn, carrots, potato, pumpkin, green beans, onions and a little rice in a flavorful broth. Of course, it was served in the local pottery. Every country in the world seems to have a slightly different version of bread brought to the table before the meal. In Chile, they eat round rolls that look like bisquits but they are a dense yeast bread. Both Dave and I were having a little trouble with our stomachs and after eating one of these rolls, we were having a tough time eating anything else. Interestingly, the rolls were served with salsa. Another typical Chilean food is the empanada. They are a meat pie made with a yeast bread crust and filled with ground beef and onion. They reminded me so much of the meat pasties or pies made famous in Butte, Montana. The miners could easily take them into the mines for a convenient meal. I was joking that since the Anaconda Company pretty much controlled Chile and its copper resources back in the day, the Butte meat pasties probably influenced the Chileans.

Or perhaps, it was the other way around.