This year is Chile's Bicentenial and were they ever preparing for a party! Septermber 18th is Independence Day and Chile is full and rich with traditions. I was lucky enough to experience them with my family and school.
EMPANADAS: My host mom, Rossy, is an incredible cook. She wants to open a restaurant some day...how did I get so lucky? She made homemade empanadas from scratch and even taught me the tricks to the trade, although I highly doubt I will be able to replicate them. A lot of food here in the south is still made my hand or your neighbor sells some homemade goods. Empanadas are basically hot pockets with a mixture of meat, onion, spices, olives and raisons inside called PINO. You can get them in any restaurant for cheap...I will miss them when I go. But everybody ate them during Independence Week.
La CUECA: La cueca is a traditional dance of Chile and all residents of Chile have been taught how to dance it, but some are better than others. The students had a cueca dance off during school and it was so entertaining to watch young kids dance something so old and traditional. La cueca involves a white hankerchief and a couple who dance around each other waving the hankerchiefs in the air. They wear traditional dress: the men wear hats and boots with spurs, the women wear dresses that flare out and are colorful.
ASADO: aka Bar-b-que Chilean style. Chile LOVES its meat and when they cook up an asado, they do it right. It takes hours for everything to be prepared and cooked, but after you are enjoying smoked meat, chicken, sausages covered with fresh bread and PREBRE to top it all, which is basically what we call pico de gallo.
My school also had an Expo presenting the history of Chile and explaining its traditions, indiginous people, La Mapuche, geographical features, wars, history and foods. I learned a lot, but would have learned way more if it were in English! The kids received marks in their history classes for their projects.
Chile also celebrated with 2 days off work, fireworks, parades and a flag on seriously ever person's house. I heard you could get fined if you weren't displaying a Chilean flag somewhere in your house, but that could just be a rumor.
So 3 cheers for Chile's bicentineal and amazing independence day!!! What an awesome way to learn about a country rich with culture, pride and tradition.
Chi Chi Chi, Le Le Le !VIVA CHILE!