Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Eating healthy: Shopping in the ferias

While Chile does have some interesting and delicious food, its not exactly known for its cuisine. Unfortunately there is an over-abundance of unhealthy food here, such as:

  • Empanadas: baked or fried pies filled with meat, cheese and the occasional vegetable. 
    I like empanadas as much as anyone, but they do leave you feeling like you just swallowed a brick sometimes.
  • Chorrillana: fries covered in meat and sauce, not unlike American chili fries. 
Don't get me wrong, with a couple of beers I'm perfectly capable of eating one of these - but they are FILTHY.
  • Completos: condiment heavy hot dogs.
Somewhere, under the pounds of avocado, mayonnaise and tomato, there could exist a hot dog... 

  • And then there's this thing. I don't even know how to explain it to you, beyond the obvious: it's giant piece of meat with a few whole boiled potatoes, intended to be one person's entree.

It looks like it could just as easily eat YOU.
Just to name a few. It can seem impossible in major downtown areas like Providencia to find reasonably-priced, healthy food. As a result, our first few months here involved a lot of wasted money and indigestion.

Fortunately, we discovered a solution. We live in Barrio Brasil, a very Bohemian neighborhood, which used to be home to the upper class nearly a hundred years ago and is now a trendy but economical place to live, filled with crumbling Spanish architecture and a lot of personality. We're lucky to have two excellent farmer's markets in our barrio, one on Saturday just off Avenida Brasil and another on Sunday on Esperanza street. 

Photo of the Barrio Yungay Feria from here
The farmer's markets, called ferias, are long stretches of streets filled with fresh fruits, vegetables and seafood, all at much cheaper prices than the supermarkets. And as a foreigner, shopping at the feria is always an interesting adventure. We've discovered a number of exotic fruits and vegetables, like:

  • Chirimoya: a fruit native to the Andes, which tastes sweet and a bit like a creamy pineapple. 

  • Zapallo: a kind of pumpkin, the flavor is similar to acorn squash. 
Our new weekly routine since discovering the ferias has been to do all our weekly produce shopping on Sundays, and spend the evening cooking large quantities of food that we can take with us to work during the week. We've made a lot of curry, soup with lentils and garbanzo beans, apple and beat salads, and creamy squash soup.

It's amazing how much a small change in routine like eating healthier can really improve your daily life. When you work long hours, eating something healthy and delicious is so much more energizing and leaves you in a much better mood than settling for another stomach-ache-inducing empanada. Plus, it's a great cultural experience to take part in the feria culture and learn more about the healthier side of local food.

All of this came from the feria - finally, some healthy eating!

1 comment:

  1. How I miss the ferias! Thank you for reminding me...although the organic produce at the Indian supermarkets here is really good (if expensive), nothing beats a good old-fashioned feria!! Couldn't stop laughing when you said that eating an empanada feels like eating a brick...And you forgot to mention pastel de choclo...that's like eating a whole brick house :)