Thursday, May 3, 2012

An Ode to Ensalada

What up loyal readers? I'm back in Santiago after a long weekend (no skipping school, we had a holiday don't worry!) in Chiloe with some friends. At some point this weekend I will blog and upload pictures about the amazing island (and it's amazing food!) but for now I just want to talk about salad. That's right, good old ensalada. Tonight after a long day interning and studying (I swear!) I sat down for dinner and realized that I have a lot of #feelings about salad.

Disclaimer: I actually love most Chilean food. It's pretty fresh (Claudia goes to the grocery store basically everyday and apologizes when she has to give me bread from the day before. I told her that at school I pretty much just wait until bread gets moldy to throw it away. She just shook her head at me. Silly gringita!) and it's also pretty tasty. Empanadas, juicy tomatoes! My favorite meal so far has been "pastel de papas" which literally translated is "potato cake" It's basically just mashed potatoes with seasoned ground beef and eggs in the center. It is amazing. Sometimes I dream about it.

Anyway, back to my story. Today I sat down for dinner and looked at my plate of "salad" and realized I really really really just want an American salad. With dark lettuce (and maybe even those weird purple things I whine about to my mother), spinach, carrots, mushrooms, maybe some goat cheese, and a nice vinaigrette. Or Greek dressing? OH GREEK DRESSING I MISS YOU. Instead, I was faced with a plate of shredded iceberg lettuce. Legit a pile of lettuce. Granted it did have traditional Chilean salad dressing, which is a truly delicious combo of oil and vinegar and yumminess. But still,  A PILE OF LETTUCE? AND ICEBERG LETTUCE? 

Here are some common characteristics of Chilean "salad" I've encountered:
  1. Onions and tomatoes and oil dressing. My first day Claudia set this out next to my plate and I thought it was like some sort of appetizer? Or side dish? So I spooned out some tomatoes onto my big plate and left the rest on the table. I would soon learn that this was actually a salad and the entire plate was actually for me.
  2. Iceberg lettuce, onions, tomatoes, and oil dressing. See above.
  3. Iceberg lettuce and celery. Oh and dressing.
  4. Iceberg lettuce, onions, tomatoes, a hard boiled egg, oil dressing, and mayo. Yes mayo.
  5. Iceberg lettuce, onions, tomatoes, a hard boiled egg, avocado, oil dressing and mayo. WHY DID YOU RUIN THE DELICIOUS AVOCADO WITH MAYO? WHY? I LOVE AVOCADO. CHILEANS LIKE AVOCADO. WHY IS THERE MAYO? 
At first I thought this was just a Claudia thing. Like maybe she just made weird salads. But, after asking around it became clear that those variations above are actually salad. And it's not that I don't like them (aside from the mayo...) because in actuality I'm obsessed with the salad dressing, but like, can't I get some leafy greens? 

Now, you might be thinking to yourself, "The Megan I know pretty much only wants to eat red meat, specifically filet mignon, WHAT IS THE WORLD COMING TO?" but never fear, my love of juicy, rare steak has not deserted me. It's the same thing that happened when I went to Mexico and didn't eat the lettuce (or anything that didn't have a skin that got peeled off) and came home and demanded salad all the time. I had no idea that salad played such an important role in my life. 

First day back on U.S. soil I would like a salad from Chop't. Or Panera. With cheese in it. And no iceberg lettuce.

Check back soon for updates on Chiloe! Chao for now!

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