Got an epicurean curiosity about the gastronomic wonders of Chilean cuisine? Here’s a start on your road to becoming a Chilean gastronome, a true “sibarita.”
This glossary will soon appear as a constant at the top of the page and will be updated regularly, so check back frequently!
Asado (ah-SAH-do): Chilean barbecue, more aptly referred to as a meat fest. No hotdogs or hamburgers allowed.
Arrollado (ah-ro-YAH-do): Seasoned pork roll, may be served hot or cold. A favorite at the deli counter for sandwiches.
Barros Jarpa (BAH-rros HAR-pa): Hot ham & cheese sandwich.
Barros Luco (BAH-rrohs LOO-ko): Hot beef and cheese sandwich.
Cachaça (kah-CHAH-sa): Brazilian distilled spirit used for making caipirinhas. Popular in Chile.
Caipirinha (ky-peer-EEN-yah): Brazilian cocktail made with cachaça and limes. Refreshing and popular in Chile.
Casera (kah-SAIR-ah): (1) Homemade, as in mermelada casera (homemade jam) or (2) a friendly term used by vendors in the feria to refer to their female customers.
Chela (CHEL-lah): Slang for beer.
Choclo (CHO-klo): Corn for human consumption. Animals eat maíz. The choclo commonly found in Chile is very large with thick kernels, similar to what is called “field corn” in the US.
Cola de Mono (CO-la day MO-no): Alcoholic milk based punch typically served cold at Christmas time.
Completo (kuhm-PLEH-to): Chilean style hot dog loaded with ketchup, mustard, relish, chopped tomato, sauerkraut, pickled green chili pepper, mashed avocado, and mayonnaise.
Empanada (ehm-pah-NAH-da): Typical dish of Spanish origin and a favorite in Chile, especially for Independence Day celebrations (September 18), asados, Sunday dinners, or snacks. They are made of fried or baked dough stuffed most commonly with pino (ground meat mixture) or cheese, but have many variations, such as marisco (shellfish) and others.
Empanada de horno (ehm-pah-NAH-da day OR-no): Oven baked empanada. Empanadas de pino are usually baked.
Empanada frita (ehm-pah-NAH-da FREE-tah) Fried empanada. Cheese empanadas are more frequently fried.
Erizo (ehr-REE-soh): Sea urchin, a fvorite Chilean sea food.
Feria (FAIR-ee-ah): Street market, found all over Chile. Often take place one day per week in a given location.
Frica (FREE-ka): See “pan frica.”
Greda (GRAY-dah): Clay. Many typical dishes are served in the traditional dark brown clay dishes made in the small town of Pomaire, just outside of Santiago.
Hallulla (ah-YU-ya): Single-serving round bread made with lard. The texture is dense and heavy.
Horno (OR-no): oven
Horno de barro (OR-no day BAHR-roh): Typical outdoor dome-shaped adobe oven found throughout the countryside. Used for making empanadas and pan amasado, but may also be used for roasting meats.
Huesillo (way-SEE-yo): Dried peach, usually with the pit still in it. Most commonly used in Mote con Huesillo.
Italiano (ee-tahl-ee-AH-no): Italian. In the world of sandwiches, it refers to tomato, avocado & mayonnaise (the 3 colors of the Italian flag).
Machas (MAH-chas): A type of clam that is typical in Chile. Often translated razorback clam, although they are not quite the same thing.
Machas a la parmesana (MAH-chas ah lah pahr-may-SAHN-ah): Typical appetizer and a must to try while in Chile. Machas on the half shell topped with a bit of parmesan (or other) cheese and served with lemon halves.
Manos de Monja (MAH-nos day MOHN-ha): Literally, nun’s hands. Used in Chile to refer to someone who cooks very well (ella tiene manos de monja / she has the hands of a nun).
Mariscos (mahr-REES-kos): Shellfish.
Marraqueta (mah-rra-KET-ta): A typical roll-like bread made from French bread dough and shaped into 4 sections. The texture is similar to a baguette, with a crunchy crust and a soft, light inside. If you ask for “una marraqueta” (one) you get half, as in 2 sections.
Mermelada (mair-may-LAH-dah): Jam.
Mote (MOH-tay): Often translated as wheatberries. Although it looks very similar to barley, mote is wheat that has been processed with an alkali (wood ashes or lye) to loosen the husks and allow them to swell up. They are then washed, boiled, and dried. Dried mote is sold in bags like dried beans, and likewise must be soaked and cooked before use. Mote is typically used in stews and the famous summer dessert/drink Mote con Huesillo.
Mote con Huesillo (MOH-tay kohn way-SEE-yoh): A favorite summer drink/dessert made from mote (wheatberries) with dried peaches (huesillos) and their sweetened cooking liquid. Often sold in glasses with straws and spoons in street stands
Mote Mei (MOH-tay MY) Hominy. “Mote” made from corn. Much less commonly found today and when available, is used in stews and savory dishes, not in desserts.
Ostión (oh-stee-OHN): Scallop
Palta (PAHL-ta): Avocado.
Pan (PAHN): Bread:
See also: Pan frica, Hallulla, Marraqueta, Pan amasado, Pan de molde
Pan amasado (pahn ah-mah-SAH-do): Literally “kneaded bread”. These individual serving round breads are often made in country homes and baked in the traditional outdoor dome-shaped adobe ovens.
Pan de molde (pahn day MOHL-day): No, this is not moldy bread! It’s sliced loaf bread.
Pan frica (pahn FREE-ka): Hamburger bun.
Papa (PAH-pa): Potato. Also used to refer to baby food (dar papa means to feed the baby).
Pastel de choclo (pah-STEL day CHO-clo): Typical Chilean dish made with chicken, pino (meat) and onion filling and topped with a corn pastelera, then baked and served in piping hot dark-brown individual clay bowls.
Pastelera (pah-STEL-AIR-rah): Typical summer Chilean preparation made with freshly grated choclo (corn), onions, eggs, and seasonings. May be served as a side dish or as a topping for another dish, as in pastel de choclo.
Picada (pee-CAH-da): Usually refers to a simple (low-brow) restaurant with good food and cheap prices. Great place to try “real” Chilean food. In the US the concept would be similar to a diner or truck stop.
Picar (pee-KAHR): (v) This word has many meanings, but in the culinary sense, it means to eat lightly, generally with drinks, as in appetizers before or instead of dinner. Ex: “¿Quieres algo para picar?” (Want a little something to eat?) Examples: empanadas, cheese boards (see tabla), quesadillas, nachos, ceviche, etc. See Picoteo.
Picoteo (pee-koh-TAY-oh): (n) Appetizer-type foods that accompany drinks before or instead of a meal.
Pino (PEE-noh): mixture of cooked ground beef, onions, paprika, seasonings, black olives, and yellow raisins used for filling empanadas, pastel de papa, pastel de choclo.
Pisco (PEES-koh): a typical distilled grape spirit, which means it is a brandy. There is a feud with Perú over who “owns” pisco. Both countries have made it for centuries.
Pisco Sour (PEES-koh SOUW-er): Chile’s national drink made with 3 parts pisco, 1 part lemon juice, and sugar to taste. May be topped with egg white foam and a drop or two of bitters.
Porotos (POR-oh-tohs): Beans. Porotos verdes are green beans, but when used alone, refers to dried beans, which make a frequent appearance on Chilean tables.
Sánguche (SAHN-gu-che): Sandwich. Other commonly used forms are “sándwich and sanguich” (both pronounced like the English sandwich).
Schop (shoap) Draft beer
Schopería (shoap-air-REE-a) Place where draft beer is the central theme. They usually serve sandwiches and fries and often have outdoor tables. There are many, for example, along Pio Nono in Bellavista (Santiago) and in Plaza Ñuñoa.
Sibarita (see-bah-REE-tah): Sybarite, epicure, gastronome, foodie.
Tabla (TAH-bla): Literally means “board.” Often found on Chilean menus to refer to a selection of appetizers, such as a tabla de queso (cheese board). Can have many variations, but usually consists of a selection of finger foods and is meant to be shared.