Most people who come to Santiago do so because it’s a great place to be for a couple of days before heading into the fabulously lush lakes region to the south, or the ultradry desert outpost of San Pedro de Atacama in the north, or points in between. Long bus rides are par for the course, and long days out and about are to be expected, whether skiing near Santiago, hiking anywhere along this string bean of a country, bicycling the vineyards or just taking a trip to the coast.
And just when you’re out of range of a supermarket, well that’s when you tend to start feeling munchy. So what do Chileans eat when they’re on the road, and what should you think about packing in your daypack for a little impromptu snacking? Well, Chileans have a wicked sweet tooth, so the first thing they’re likely to grab for is candy, cookies, an alfajor, a candy bar or some candied peanuts.
Candy tends to be mentitas, round minty spheres, or Suny, a manjar (soft caramel fudge)-flavored candy somewhere between a starburst and fudge in consistency. Also, quite mysteriously, menthol stands in for mint here, and Halls, which in the United States are considered a medicinal coughdrop, in Chile are eaten as a refreshing “mint.”
Cookies are more of a grab bag, with the most popular being:
- Frac- oblong sandwich cookies, vanilla/chocolate/cappuccino/other varieties
- Nik, Alteza and others-wafer sandwich cookies
- Triton-chocolate filled chocolate cookies
- Kuky-chocolate fleck (notice I didn’t say chip) cookies
Alfajores are halfway between a cookie and a candy bar, two soft cookies sandwiched around manjar (soft milk fudge) and covered with chocolate. There are a host of different brands, and they come in a single serving, ready for your chomping pleasure. Sometimes they also come in strips of three, in which case they’re ready for you to share (or not). I’ll talk about this more soon on the blog, so check back!
Candy bars. The hands-down favorite candy bar is the Super 8 (super ocho), which is stacked wafers with chocolate between and outside. Others include Tu y Yo, Doblon, Negrita, Sahne Nuss (probably the best chocolate available in a single serving, though sometimes Cadbury’s dairy milk is sold in small bars, and children prefer the overly sweet Trencito). You can pick up Super 8 at the supermarket, or do like the locals do and flag down someone selling them on the street or on the bus.
Photo courtesy of Bearshapedsphere, used with permission.
And this candy bar is so loved, that there’s even an advertising campaign for it on television. For a sample of the Chilean accent (and consider this post on Chilean slang), and sense of humor, watch and enjoy (he’s having the cheerleaders spell the word rico, which means rich or delicious).
Super 8 Cheerleader Commercial (click for video)
Candied peanuts are a walking downtown and on the bus phenomenon, most commonly at the Nuts 4 Nuts stands spread among downtown. People tend to eat these (with any luck, still warm) as soon as they get their hands on them. You may have seen them in New York, and in fact, the company was started by a Chilean in New York, who then re-exported them to Chile, where they cost a cool sixty cents, rather than the two dollars they cost in New York.
Photo courtesy of Active Steve on Flickr.
If it’s not candy they’re reaching for, there might be some drinkable yogurt, especially in the under six set and among women of all ages, but it’s not terribly practical for long trips.
Natural-foods lovers will want to head to one of many tostadurias (dry goods shops) that dot the city, for an endless and fairly cheap supply of dried fruits and nuts, premixed or packaged separately. A post on tostadurias is also forthcoming. Check back soon!
And if your trip has come and gone, and you just can’t get enough of all your Chilean goodies, and wish you had more, check out one of these websites for buying Chilean snacks internationally.
And don’t forget to bring some home for your friends as a fabulous supermarket souvenir!