Chile is a country that is virtually cut off by the sea and the Andes and hence it values it’s history and economic strength. Chile is definitely all about fish!
Argentina tries hard to compete with the fast paced world and is struggling economically at the moment, however that doesn’t stop it being meat obsessed – in vast quantities and apparently they get through 12,000 carcasses a day.
Chile was my particular favourite – you couldn’t look anywhere without seeing soaring mountains!
In both countries I stayed in B&B’s and one of the things that surprised me was how simple it is to get things right, and how easily customers will forgive small oversights when there is a personality involved. It puzzled me why they did not recognise the importance of seasonal and local food and make a real deal about it?
In both countries we were staying literally in a fruit bowl and agricultural epi-centre, yet there were still imported pineapples laid out for breakfast. Why? When there is bountiful supplies of local, exquisitely tasting fruit – is it because it’s under their noses, do they take it for granted? are they are bored with it? It made me contemplate our Western expectations and our influence over the world on even the most remotest places. Provenance is something we now value but others fear is a less glamorous and worthy choice.
There was one bright spot that blew me away, we visited a restaurant which celebrated and made a feature of the ‘local’ food. Apart from a fabulously hosted wine tasting, we were blown away by the innovation and standard of the food. The chef at Ruca Malen Vineyard is incredibly talented, but even more so because he recognised that his USP was to celebrate all that was Chilean in a modern way, ensuring a great product, fabulous flavours and the best price. And the best bit was that the wines were fantastic too – I shall certainly be looking to get my hands on some of their excellent Malbecs to bring back the memories.
I’ve already set our talented executive chef, Pete, the challenge of developing the perfect provenance meal – uk version – to match. We are after all provenance obsessed!